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VFR routing EPKM-LIKE-LFKO (... and the dreaded Italy airspace)

I am trying to figure out an optimal VFR routing for EPKM – LIKE – LFKO. I thought I was quite good at route planning, but this particular trip is giving me headaches. Flying in six countries: Poland, Czechia, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, France. Crossing Vienna TMA. The outskirts of Alps… And then Italy and the scary Solenzara restricted area!

For the time being, I think a crossing STO/Stockerau – KFT/Klagenfurt at F085 should do the trick for the first leg – otherwise it’s just fly more or less direct EPKM-STO and then KFT-LIKE.

Now the leg LIKE – LFKO is where my real troubles start. Looking at the arrival end, I reckon I should meet Corsica at Bastia, so that I can avoid Solenzara and somehow navigate the mountains of Corsica, which on closer inspection turned out to be higher than I had thought!

To get to Bastia – or actually anywhere to Corsica – I will inevitably need to cross the Apennines. A direct route LIKE-BTA conveniently keeps me off the really high peaks. However I can’t fail to notice the area is dense in airspace boundaries…

Now to the question: I am not afraid of flying in controlled airspace… But I am a bit afraid of flying in Italy. Should I? It just looks to me it is difficult to have a plan B if refused entry to CTR/TMA en route…

Is this advice still relevant? I was thinking about staying below Venice CTR after takeoff, ask Bologna tower to let me climb to my cruising altitude as per FPL (which would be possibly again F085). Then another clearance needed to enter Florence CTR, then another for Pisa CTR … and then I am free to roam over the Mediterranean Sea! Is this what I could reasonably expect? Any other advice or warnings?

EPKM, Poland

Perhaps @Nuccio has some suggestions since he recently posted his trip (AOPA Fly In) from an airfield near Naples to Massa Cinquale LILQ near Pisa/Lucca which goes through some of the same airspace.

I have had good experience the last few years with Italy. Certainly some of the military CAS north east of Venice is often inactive on weekends, so that helps a bit if you can manage that. But even when active, I have flown a route from/to Trento/Portoroz several times and requested to stay high, always with success. If you have charts showing IFR WPT that helps because ATC knows them all.

1) If your radio skills are good and your requests and responses are clear then you should reasonably expect to get what you request, or nearly so. Anticipate a bit the traffic flows in the CTR/TMAs if you can. For example, Bologna runway is 12/30 so if you want to cross the CTR SE of the airport they might want you at a particular altitude to separate you from IFR traffic. Have a chart with the VFR waypoints handy because sometimes you’ll be given route clearances via them.

2) Last year, a group of us visited Lucca LIQL and then flew from there to Propriano LFKO, which covered the same Corsica territory you are investigating. Leaving Lucca for Propriano, Pisa ATC sent us via the Pisa VRPs SE then SW to the coast right through their CTR and then down to Piombino. From your screenshot, I’d suggest planning from Bologna west of Florence direct to Elba VOR and crossing to Corsica from there. There is a military zone around Lucca and if it is active you might be routed around or simply required to hold for a few minutes before they let you through or you just might need to get down low. Pisa ATC was very accommodating though. If you are looking for a good refueling stop and lunch near Bologna then Ozzano LIKO is a must. They are a Cirrus dealer and have a a beautiful 840m runway, fuel, a restaurant, and a pool in the shape of a plane. It’s also a good spot to land if visiting Bologna.

3) There is a VFR transit route from a VRP on the coast south of Bastia then a bit inland and slightly west of the coast heading south directly past Solenzara with a recommended max 1500’. I think some in our group flew that last year but in any case a published VFR route always suggests a high probability of getting a transit clearance. If you plan to the first VRP at the north end of that route, then you have the choice of using the route south or proceeding west via Corte. The route via Corte LFKT is much prettier but the terrain is indeed quite rugged (that’s why it’s pretty ;-)) and needs better weather and a good altitude…. my recollection is that you’ll need something at or above 5500’ to feel comfortable. But it’s not difficult to fly if the weather is good and is definitely worth it.

For charts, the Avioportolano charts are good, including one for Corsica/Sardinia.

Last Edited by chflyer at 30 Jun 12:28
LSZK, Switzerland

As a data point, last week, I have flown all across the Verona, Bologna and Ancona CTRs at 5000 feet. No worries at all, everything as requested, or rather, as “announced” to ATC, by me. Try to rubberband your route slightly so as to pass as many VRPs as possible (say, PESE1, PES1, RQNW1, RPE1, RPS1). You don’t speak to TWR for that, but with APP.

Do avoid to cross the “spine” of Corsica. You will likely encouter lots of CU there in the summer. In that past, I have crossed LF-R65 without any problems, but last time is a few years ago. Call the telephone number in the NOTAM and see what they say. I am in contact with another pilot who was going to do this exact route on a weekday this week. If I happen to get a feedback from him, I’ll pass it on. If you really want to avoid the east of coast, consider going to the other side and then down the west coast, which is spectacular.

Mainz (EDFZ) & Egelsbach (EDFE), Germany

chflyer wrote:

Perhaps @Nuccio has some suggestions since he recently posted his trip (AOPA Fly In) from an airfield near Naples to Massa Cinquale LILQ near Pisa/Lucca which goes through some of the same airspace.

Correct. I crossed the Firenze and Pisa CTR’s just last saturday.
Flying at 7000 ft I had no problems at all.
I feel very confortable crossing CTR’s at high altitude, for two reasons:
first, it’s cool (in the sense of temperature…)
second, it seems to me that it causes less trouble to the ATC’s…

Don’t worry, fly responsibly.

N410617 E0142719
S. Agata de Goti, Benevento, Italy

Thanks a lot guys. All reassuring. Good to know these VRPs are really used and not just there to decorate the chart :)

Encouraged, I will try calling Solenzara tomorrow… because why not!

Last Edited by Mateusz at 30 Jun 16:41
EPKM, Poland
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