I'm aware that commercial pilots require special training for landing at Category C airports (e.g. Innsbruck), but I was wondering if, as a private pilot I could land at an airport such as this, whitout training provided I feel comfortable enough to do it.

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    $\begingroup$ Since you mention Innsbruck, are you asking about EASA regulations? $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Jul 21, 2021 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Pondlife Yes, I am. I maily interested in Tromsø Lufthavn Langnes in Norway. $\endgroup$ Jul 21, 2021 at 15:48
  • $\begingroup$ At least these four airports (NO) you can fly in a private aircraft. $\endgroup$ Jul 21, 2021 at 23:32
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    $\begingroup$ @LukeDunkley I have landed already in LOWI with a TMG. No restrictions or additonal training required, just regular VMC entry into the control zone and landing on the runway. Normal landing fees. All fine and dandy. :) $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2021 at 21:15

4 Answers 4


The categories you are referring to fall under a classification system internal to airlines. Related: Why is Heraklion airport a 'captains only' airport?

Any restrictions imposed by the national authority will be included in the aeronautical information publication, or AIP. Taking your Innsbruck (LOWI) example, here's what the Austrian AIP says: Operation in VMC on site or in a flight simulation training device FSTD (full flight simulator-FFS; Flight and navigation procedures trainer II-FNPT II) is required before first use of the approach procedures in weather conditions of less than 3000 FT (AAL) Ceiling and 5 KM Visibility and for the approval of any special approach and/or departure procedure.
NOTE: operation in an FSTD shall include the program in VMC as well as in IMC unless a collision detection system is used.

— Source: LOWI AD 2-1. Austrian AIP. 25 MAR 2021. [emphasis added]

The AIP goes on to list further details. Based on the excerpt above: if weather minimums are below those specified, prior experience in good visibility or in an approved flight simulator is required.

  • $\begingroup$ So to answer the question, YES you can fly into such an airport as a private pilot, so long as a) the weather is good or b) you have completed the training required by the relevant Aviation Authority. $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    Jul 22, 2021 at 15:47

Generally speaking, the short answer is "probably not" (I don't know Innsbruck).

Long answer:

If you look into it (as a private pilot, you should know "how" already), you will most likely find that there will be a number of obstacles in your path at the majority of large airports.

These obstacles can include (but are not limited to) :

  • Airspace restrictions (both local area and at the airport itself) so, for example, you might need IR rating and a suitably equipped aircraft.
  • Technical limitations for your aircraft (e.g. your aircraft might not be able to meet speed requirements)
  • Airport prohibitions, for example Heathrow publish the following:

Flights for recreational, commemorative, charity and record breaking purposes, light twin engined private aircraft and all light single engined aircraft will not be permitted to use the airport. 'Light aircraft' shall be defined as any aircraft that has a maximum gross take-off weight of 12,500 lb (5,670 KG) or less.

And even if the immediate technical obstacles don't apply, you might find commercial obstacles such as (but not limited to) :

  • The requirement to nominate and use a handling agent for ground ops
  • Very high landing fees
  • $\begingroup$ Note that this is specific to EASA (as per question tags), it's different in the US and other countries not part of EASA. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Jul 21, 2021 at 19:19
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    $\begingroup$ Its "different" how exactly ? It doesn't matter if you are in the US or Timbuktu, you still have to give due consideration to all of the same factors I outlined above ? Airspace restrictions, airport rules, airport fees ... same things to consider the world over. "How" they are implemented may be different, but the basic premise of having to consider the same things is the same. $\endgroup$ Jul 21, 2021 at 19:38
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer. I wasn't mainly asking about large airports in general, but those more commonly considered dangerous (Samos, Innsbruck, etc.) $\endgroup$ Jul 21, 2021 at 20:40
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    $\begingroup$ I think this is confusing "Category C" (difficult/special airports like Innsbruck, or say Aspen for a US example) with airports that are simply busy $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2021 at 3:03
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    $\begingroup$ @UnrecognizedFallingObject: AFAIK, in the US the busy airports aren't dangerous (except for having lots of traffic), while the airports that are somewhat dangerous, or at least require special training & equipment, are far from busy. I wouldn't recommend flying into Wilson Bar (Idaho), for instance: airnav.com/airport/c48 $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Jul 22, 2021 at 6:29

Categories are for commercial pilot operations, they don't apply to private pilots, so there's no inherent regulatory limitation to flying into a Category C airport. The regulations say commercial pilots must be appropriately trained, and airlines have specific rules internally for this and say who can land at them, i.e. captains only or not.

A private pilot can land at any of these, provided the airspace and airport rules allow it (see @LittleCode's answer for some of those), it's up to the pilot's judgement to train themselves. Keep in mind that for many of these airports the special challenges of landing or departing for a light aircraft are mitigated due to much slower approach, takeoff and landing speeds, especially in visual flight conditions. In instrument conditions these airports can be very challenging to get into or our of, but you can still do it if you have an instrument rating, currency and the guts to do it.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer. $\endgroup$ Jul 23, 2021 at 17:07

If you have questions regarding the specific Airport it is always better to check in AIP. For Innsbruck, for example, VFR (most of the PPL pilots), Airspace D, and no restrictions mentioned in Airport info, so yes it is allowed.

And you can find Visual Approach Chart in AIP.


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