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Before flight

Rolling Plane

As a pilot, before you take off, you need some information. Here is how to get it.

You may also need a little gas.

 

General information

nav3000.free.fr offers many useful features for pilots. There, you can discover which airfield to use to go where you want to go (say, Chambord, for exemple, where there are no airfields), get practical and aeronautical information about this airfield (provided by pilots) with a link to the offical SIA chart if available for this place, get Notams (provided by the official service : SIA), wheather forecast, plan your route, calculate drift or horizon, know when the VFR day ends.... Try it.
Almost 700 french airfields or strips are available.

Weather report

logo MFIn France, the metorological office in charge of predicting weather is Meteo France, a state owned company. It provides a quite comprehensive set of predictions for pilots : METAR (actually not a prediction, as you must know) TAF, SIGMET, SPECI, TEMSI and wind maps.

If you don't know what a TEMSI map is,(it may have a different name in your country), click here.

To get this information, you have several ways :

  • by phone
If you speak French, you can call 08 92 68 10 13 (0,34euro/mn if you call from France) and get a VFR wheather report. It is updated 3 or 4 times a day. France is divided in 14 parts, and you are requested to dial the number of one of the 95 French departements. You will then get : a general situation report, including dangerous phenomenons and winds, a forecast for the region, and finally a precise and detailled forecast of wheather, visibility and clouds for the part of France to which belong the departement you choose.
You can also try the 08 99 70 12 15. It'll be more expensive, (1,35euro and 0,34euro/mn) but then, you'll actually talk, not to an answering machine, but to a real previsionnist, specialized in aeronautics.
  • by fax
Unfortunately, the aerofax service is no longer available. Its providers (FFA and meteo France) decided that it wasn't worth the cost any more, and pilots now would use internet instead.
  • by internet
You will find the same information as used to be available by fax. You will need a code which you can get for free provided that you are a pilot.
Just use this direct adress : www.meteo.fr/aeroweb. If the link doesn't work any longer, please be so kind as to warn me, and browse yourself your way in the www.meteo.fr site to the aeronautical pages.
Otherwise, you may use OLIVIA, the flight planning website by the SIA. It provides NOTAMS and weather forecasts along a route you indicate.
 
For general forecasts try one of these:
Meteo France : the general forecast page for France.
La chaine météo A private cable TV channel providing forecasts up to 10 days. But you should know that long term forecasts are not reliable.
If you want real time information about the location of thunderstorms, use this great German site, Wetterzentral.
Minitel is History since 2012. Its network was shut down then.
  • in-flight
Of course, you can have meteo reports and forecasts when you are airborne. Several airports have ATIS broadcasting the METAR on the airport, in English also. You can also use Volmet VHF.These answering machines will provide you with METARs ans SPECIs of several large french airports. They're available in English.
Bordeaux VOLMET (126.00) gives information for Bordeaux, Toulouse, Paris CDG, Paris Orly, Madrid, Barcelone, Palma, Lisbonne, Genève.
Marseille VOLMET (127,40) for Marseille, Nice, Lyon St Exupéry, Genève, Paris CDG, Rome, Milan, Palma, Barcelone.
Paris VOLMET (126.00) for PARIS CDG & Orly, Lyon St Exupéry, Genève, Zurich, Londres Heathrow, Gatwick, bruxelles, Amsterdam.
Note that different frequencies are used to broadcast messages in French, and that information is not the same in French. (Different cities)
Finally, you can contact the CIV, (In flight information centers). You will find their frequencies on your charts, and they'll be able to give you information if you need them.
 

We have a few meteorological special phenomenons which you shoud be aware of, since you might encounter them in our sky.

Notams

French notams are available on internet. OLIVIA is your friend, and there, Notams are provided by the official source : the SIA. Olivia is available in english.

By Phone: call your destination airport or the BRIA, aeronautical information regional office.

BRIA Phone Fax
LILLE 03 20 16 19 65 03 20 87 51 44
BALE MULHOUSE 03 89 90 26 12 or 15 03 89 90 26 19
LYON 04 72 22 56 76 or 77 or 78 04 72 23 80 67
MARSEILLE 04 42 31 15 65 04 42 31 15 69
NICE 04 93 21 38 18 04 92 29 41 32
AJACCIO 04 95 22 61 85 04 95 23 59 69
TOULOUSE 05 62 74 65 31 or 32 05 62 74 65 33
BORDEAUX 05 56 55 80 47 or 48 05 56 55 80 04
NANTES 02 40 84 84 75 02 40 84 80 39
LE BOURGET 01 48 62 53 07 01 48 62 72 07 or 6504 for PLN

AIP Sup

This information is available in English on the official SIA web page.

LF-R and D zones

Don't forget to call the phone numbers indicated on your 1/1000000 charts if you have to cross dangerous or restricted zone to know whether they're active or not. Click here for more details.

Air Force high speed low height zones (RTBA)

France has a large network of military zones where very high speed, low height flights are conducted. This network was changed on october the 17th 2013 so make sure your chart is up to date. You can download the 2013 chart here. Check also that the network was not changed again after this page was last updated.

When active, these zones are forbidden to all non air force aircraft beacuse the air force pilots do not enforce the "see and avoid" rule.

To know which of these Air Force zones are active, you should use the SIA website and then click on the "carte AZBA" link (you will find it under "préparation de vol" in the left hand column. You will get a page with several links, each corresponding to a chart of the active zones for the considered slot. (For the same day and the next day only). These charts are downloadable pdf files and they also include a written list of the active zones. Much more convenient if you don't speak French than calling an answering machine.

But this is valid only for the zones belonging to the RTBA. Other zones may be active (civil, Army, Navy ones...) so you have to check the Notams as well. (RTBA stands for Réseau très basse altitude meaning very low altitude network. They are operated by the Air Force only.)

FPLFPL sheet

In France, you must file a FPL in several cases:

  • you fly IFR (obvious, no?)
  • you fly Night VFR
  • you fly above the sea, at a distance preventing you to glide back to land should an emergency occur (For exemple, you fly from mainland France to Corsica)
  • you cross a border even if you don't have to clear customs.
  • if you fly to or from several airports, as an aftermath of 9/11th, you have to call or send a fax before you set off.

The flight plan must be filed at least 20 minutes before you take off, and 30 minutes for night VFR or border crossing. Don't forget to cancel your FPL if you cancel your flight.

To fill and send a flight plan you can use

  • internet : again, use Olivia
  • a phone or a fax.
    Call or fax the BRIA which is the closest to you, if you can't fill the FPL on your airport..

Of course, you can also go to the "bureau de piste" of your airport, if it exists, or to the tower, to fill manually your FPL.

Minitel is not available any longer.

To close your PLN, if it was not possible to close it on the radio, call the CIV (in flight information center) related to your your arrival airport.

 CIV  Phone
 BORDEAUX  05 56 47 95 01
 MARSEILLE  04 42 33 76 76
 PARIS  01 69 57 66 61
 BREST  02 98 44 79 63
 REIMS  03 26 05 03 08

Beside these numbers, a unique phone number to close your flight plan H24 from everywhere in France is now available: 0810 IFR VFR. (0810 437 837). Good news : calls to this number are charged at the local rate, no matter how far you are from the CIV.


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