An introduction to VFR operations in the Netherlands
Visual flight rules (VFR) are a set of regulations under which a pilot operates an aircraft in weather conditions generally clear enough to allow the pilot to see where the aircraft is going. Specifically, the weather must be better than basic VFR weather minima, i.e. in visual meteorological conditions (VMC). The pilot must be able to operate the aircraft with visual reference to the ground, and by visually avoiding obstructions and other aircraft.
One of the biggest differences compared to IFR operations, is that communication with ATC happens mostly on a pilot initiated basis. This means that you as a pilot have to be aware/are responsible of what to communicate (to controllers and/or other pilots), and when. what you are allowed to do as a VFR flight largely depends on what type of airspace you currently are flying in. The following are found in the Netherlands:
Class A: All operations must be conducted under IFR. All aircraft are subject to ATC clearance. All flights are separated from each other by ATC.
Class B: Operations may be conducted under IFR or VFR. All aircraft are subject to ATC clearance. All flights are separated from each other by ATC.
Class C: Operations may be conducted under IFR or VFR. All aircraft are subject to ATC clearance. Aircraft operating under IFR are separated from each other and from flights operating under VFR, but VFR flights are not separated from each other. Flights operating under VFR are given traffic information in respect of other VFR flights.
Class E: Operations may be conducted under IFR or VFR. Aircraft operating under IFR are separated from each other, and are subject to ATC clearance. Flights under VFR are not subject to ATC clearance. Traffic information services are available on pilot’s request.
Class G: Operations may be conducted under IFR or VFR. ATC has no authority but VFR minimums are to be known by pilots. Traffic information services available on pilot’s request.
At all times be aware of the the airspace you are currently flying in and thus know what you are allowed to do (access, altitude, communication). A free chart can be found here.
RT for Uncontrolled Airfields and Amsterdam information.
Two-way radio contact is mandatory for all uncontrolled airfields in the Netherlands. Although start-up clearance is never given, aircraft are required to state at least their callsign, intention, persons on board, and captain’s (last)name. Although local VFR traffic (departing and returning to the same airport) requires no flight plan in real life, you must file one when using VATSIM. Your initial call must be a request for aerodrome information. This may be done after engine start, however. You need not report apron or taxiway movements. Captain’s name may be omitted in RT if a flight plan has been filed OR a full stop is performed, except at EHLE.
You must at least report the following items at an uncontrolled field:
Lining up on a runway with the intent to depart
Pilot: “D-EWAE, lining up runway 05.”
Mandatory reporting points on an arrival or departure route including altitude, identified by the filled triangle on the visual approach chart.
Pilot: “PH-IIS, overhead BRAVO, 700ft.”
Leaving the circuit after departure
Pilot: “PH-OMP is leaving the circuit and your frequency. Bye bye!”
Two minutes from the circuit entry point or start of arrival stating clearly your position, altitude, routing, persons on board, and captain’s (last)name.
Pilot: “Seppe radio G-IGGL overhead Hoeven 1,600ft VFR Rotterdam Seppe two minutes out with one on board, captain’s name Johansson.”
Joining the circuit if no arrival route is defined
Pilot: “PH-VFC joining left-hand downwind runway 25.”
Final with intentions
Pilot: “PH-FLE final 05, touch and go.”
Pilot: “PH-ESB final 05 number two full stop.”
Switching off the radios
Pilot: “PH-GRG switching off, bye bye!”
Example flight EHSE-EHMZ:
Pilot: “Seppe radio, PH-MLK.”
Pilot: “Captain’s name Smit, VFR to Midden Zeeland with two on board, request aerodrome information.”
EHSE: “PLK, roger, runway 25 left hand circuit, QNH 1017.”
Pilot: “Runway 25 left hand QNH 1017, PLK.”
Pilot: “PLK lining up runway 25.”
Pilot: “PLK leaving the circuit and your frequency, bye bye.”
EHSE: “Bye bye”
Enroute, you may call Amsterdam Information. This controller oversees and provides Flight Information Services to VFR flights in the western half of the Amsterdam FIR. Remember that changing frequency is the responsibility of the PIC when flying VFR, and enroute handoffs are generally not given. Amsterdam Information can provide you with things such as:
- Regional QNH
- Please set this if not flying at a flight level. (VFR Transition altitude in the Netherlands is 3500ft, transition level by ATIS or ATC)
- Traffic information
- Frequencies of navaids
- Frequencies of ATS or FIS stations.
- Provide QDM/QDR to an aerodrome or navaid.
Pilot: “Amsterdam information PH-MLK just airborne from Seppe”
EHAA: “PH-MLK, Amsterdam, go ahead.”
Pilot: “TB20 with two on board VFR Seppe Midden Zeeland 1,200ft request flight information service.”
EHAA: “PLK, roger, flight info, regional QNH 1018.”
Pilot: “QNH 1018, PLK.”
Pilot: “PLK, request frequency change to Midden Zeeland radio”
EHAA: “Is approved, goodbye”
Pilot: “Bye bye”
Pilot: “Midden Zeeland radio PH-MLK overhead Goes 1,600ft VFR Seppe Midden Zeeland two minutes out with two on board, captain’s name Smit.”
EHMZ: “PH-MLK runway 27 right hand QNH 1018”
Pilot: “27 right hand QNH 1018 PH-MLK”
Pilot: “PH-MLK entering right hand downwind for the 27”
EHMZ: “PLK Roger”
Pilot: “PLK final 27 full stop”
EHMZ: “PLK Roger”
Pilot: “PLK switching off”
EHMZ: “PLK Roger tot zo”
We hope that this briefing will provide a decent overview of the procedures and allow you, the pilot, to enjoy flying VFR in the Netherlands.