Like in 2020, I planned a skitrip with 3 friends to La Plagne in the French Alps through the Chambéry Airport (LFLB). Chambéry Airport has operational restrictions, but only for commercial traffic or for >19 passengers. Nevertheless, I did prepare myself thoroughly on the approaches, missed approach procedures, arrivals and departures of this airfield situated in a valley in the French Alps. Google Maps, Earth, charts and maps were of great help.
Handling at Chambéry is also mandatory in wintertime, particularly on Saturdays and Sundays when there is a lot of business flights arriving and departing, including helicopters, full of avid skiers. The airport is ideally situated to serve the affluent ski areas to the south, including Courchevel.
Two years ago, I had contacted the local aeroclub directly asking if I can come through hem instead of through the business terminal with obligatory handling. At that time I was flying a PA28, and I flew outside the busy weekend. They accommodated me and gave me a spot on the less busy parking P. So this time, I contacted them again for my PA34 with an arrival on Thursday, and departure on the busy Sunday. They pointed me nevertheless to the handling website and handling company of the airport. I asked handling for an arrival slot and a departure slot (with parking at the aeroclub), and although they refused initially, eventually they allowed me when I pointed out (in French) that I had a spot on parking P, handled by the aeroclub. I quoted both PPR numbers in both IFR flight plans.
Also, despite coming from another Shengen country (Belgium), customs and police were to be notified of our coming. I did this via email through a dedicated form provided by the handling company.
Airplane is a 1981 Piper Seneca 3 with the intercooler STC, 2×GNS430W and further a classic cockpit. 3 POB. Foreflight as additional navigation and Jeppesen chart carrier. PilotAware for traffic sensing and ADL for weather via satellite.
We launched very early on Thursday morning at 06:03L in Kortrijk, Belgium (EBKT) – a night departure. My home airport opens at 06:00L so I was the first movement of the day. I had flight planned to arrive at 08:30L in Chambéry as per my slot, which happened as planned. Although I had to break through cloud to climb to FL100 initially, all clouds disappeared when approaching destination where just a few banks close to the ground but of no operational consequence lingered.
Routing generated by Autorouter was:
EBKT N0174F100 MAK1A MAK DCT GOLEX Y50 REM B3 VATRI G40 ARSIL B13 SOMDA A6 DJL DCT LIRKO Y55 SALEV SALEV1Q LFLB
Upon departing Kortrijk, I got transferred from Brussels Control pretty rapidly to Lille Approach who gave me the direct REM pretty fast. Around Reims, you cut through a part of the extremely busy Paris arrival airspace. After that spectacle, I got the direct Dijon (DJL) followed by a direct LIRKO by Basle Approach. At that moment, the sun was coming up over the Alps and the Mont Blanc dominated the landscape. Geneva then cleared me on Y55 and pretty quickly direct COLLO for the ILS X approach to runway 18 at Chambéry over the lake.
Flight went extremely smoothly (2h18) and we parked at Parking P near the aeroclub. We packed the airplane and passed the tourniquet. We rented a car at Sixt and drove the 1.5 hr to La Plagne where we checked in in the hotel, rented skis, bought the skipasses and were on the slopes by noon. Weather was wonderful ! Our fourth friend joined us later by commercial airplane to Geneva & rental car.
We had 2,5 days of perfect snow, good skiing, heavy food and above all warm friendship !
Return was planned and happened on Sunday. Upon returning at the airport and returning our rental car, we noticed that the apron had filled with business jets. We were able to go airside via the aeroclub. I readied and checked the airplane, and although we were earlier than planned, filed and slotted, we were able to start-up 1 hr sooner. I refuelled via BP card while my passengers worked on our last bottle of champagne … life of a pilot ….
This was the filed route:
LFLB PAS8C PAS B37 DJL A6 SOMDA B13 ARSIL G40 VATRI B3 CMB N874 VEKIN N873 ADUTO DCT BELOB DCT MAK EBKT
However, when receiving the IFR clearance, the wind had turned so we were recleared on rwy 18 on the PAS8R departure. After take-off we were handed over to Chambéry Approach, followed by Geneva who cleared us direct Dijon (DJL). We waved goodbye to the Mont Blanc. Then we got a very nice shortcut direct to BILGO in the north of France. During the flight, Foreflight warned me of a pending iPad overheat, so I had to take it out of the direct sunlight.
I recently installed a JPI EDM 790 and was able to fly LOP at FL100 RPM 2400 MAP 30" at 2x 9,5 GPH or 19 GPH total in cruise. Speed 140 KIAS or 165 KTAS.
Soon we were back in Belgium airspace. Wind was almost fully cross for runway 24 in Kortrijk 170/12G20 … but that worked out as well. A flight of 2h13 and three happy skiers for this 4 day skitrip !
Great trip! Another example of fly-to-ski feasibility. Maybe we should organize ski fly-in there next year. I believe it’s easy reachable for all French, Belgian and UK pilots without crossing the Alps which very often poses big obstacle (literally ).
Thanks, nice report. Glad you enjoyed it!
Thanks. Trips with (non-pilot) friends are always super-rewarding when they work out.
How much was the airport bill then?
Great report – thanks for posting it.
This “fly to ski” stuff is quite infectious
Lovely trip, seems the twin life is starting to treat you very well ?
@Bosco: Two years ago, my passage at Chambéry through the aeroclub with my PA28 was free. I am hoping the same this year … but don’t tell anyone !
@ibra: wrt Twin Life:
for a bit more fuel (~20GPH) and a small increase in take-off risk, I am able to derisk flying in low IMC, over water, in slight icing, over terrain and at night. I was never fully relaxed doing this in my SEP before. The maintenance bill so far is surprisingly very acceptable as I was lucky to find this Seneca 3 which is very well maintained. I added the engine monitor to follow up my engines that are approaching TBO and which I will continue flying beyond on condition as per Mike Busch’s opinion (N-reg).
The twin costed me significantly less than a SEP and I got 6 places, FIKI (relative I know), built-in oxygen, weather radar and a FL250 ceiling in return. And did I say I now have two vacuum pumps and two alternators? Also the passenger experience in terms of stability, perceived safety and noise is more pleasant than a SEP.
Sounds cool and glad you had no surprises your first bill !
I added the engine monitor to follow up my engines that are approaching TBO and which I will continue flying beyond on condition as per Mike Busch’s opinion
Indeed, two engines you definitely can afford to test “EH >> TBO” hypothesis from Mike Busch
Yeah. I also do the oil analysis to track trends.