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The Aeronautical Information Publication – An evaluation for paragliders

The Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) is actually an important source of information for those who want to participate safely in air traffic. However, I can’t remember it ever being discussed in the theory lessons for a paragliding license. It is worth taking a look at the AIP, as I have explained in the following article.

Introduction

Perhaps many paragliders are put off by the amount of information that the AIP offers. But since many parts are of little or no interest to us (e.g. everything in connection with flying according to instrument flight rules), the amount of information relevant to us is greatly reduced. For those who are flying without radio, the number of relevant chapters is reduced even further, so that every pilot is advised to take a look, even the classic local mountain pilot.

Pilots often rely on 2nd or 3rd hand information, and this behavior should be questioned. At the very least, you should compare the information you have read or heard somewhere with the information provided by air traffic control.

In order to be able to use the AIP correctly, a certain basic knowledge of aviation law is of course necessary. I can recommend the book Luftrecht für Gleitschirmflieger by Hans Lang (ISBN 978-3-00-069699-2, only available in German). In this book, the actually quite dry subject of air law is brought closer to the inclined pilot in a humorous way.

The AIPs I examined are available free of charge after logging in or, in some cases, without logging in. I analyzed the following AIPs, which are provided by the respective air traffic control authorities: Deutsche Flugsicherung (abbreviation: DFS), Austro Control (Austrian air traffic control) and ENAV (Società Nazionale per l’Assistenza al Volo, the Italian air traffic control). I had originally planned to analyze the Swiss AIP as well, but unfortunately there is a charge for this. As I rarely fly there, it’s not worth buying for me.

Limitations

The evaluation of the AIPs in this article is subject to the following restrictions:

  • Although I have prepared this article with the greatest possible care, errors and misinterpretations on my part cannot be ruled out
  • In principle, it is the responsibility of each pilot to consult the AIP for information relevant to his or her project
  • This article was created using the AIPs valid at the time. The AIPs are regularly updated and possibly expanded by the respective air navigation service providers. It is therefore generally advisable to check the current status of the AIPs regularly
  • The assessment of the parts of the AIP listed below is my personal assessment. Other pilots may arrive at a different assessment here, so my recommendation is to view the AIPs in full in order to make your own assessment

Basic information on the AIP

The basic structure of the AIP is specified by the ICAO and is divided into three parts, Part 1 – General (abbreviated GEN), Part 2 – En-route (abbreviated ENR) and Part 3 – Aerodromes (abbreviated AD). This is followed by a division into further chapters. A specification of the structure and content of the AIP can be downloaded from the ICAO here, so I won’t go into further detail here. The diagram on page 6 of the PDF provides a quick overview of the structure.

In terms of quickly finding the information you are looking for, it would of course be advantageous if the respective air traffic control authorities adhered to the structure according to the specification, regardless of the country in which you want to fly. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as I explain below.

Getting started

Austro Control

The AIP is available on the Austro Control website after registering and logging in. By clicking on AIP and selecting the select information AIP and the desired AIP part and AIP Part Number, the documents can be called up by clicking on Search. The documents are easy to read as the PDFs extend over several pages and correspond to the ICAO structure (in contrast to DFS). The AIP is available in German and English.

Interestingly, Austro Control provides the AIPs of many other countries. But unfortunately I have not found any indication whether Austro Control guarantees that these are complete and up-to-date. Therefore, in my further analysis I refer to the website of the respective air navigation service providers.

ENAV

The AIP is available after registering and logging in on the ENAV website. Click on AIP Request Access on the website and click on AIP Info and Access to eAIP-Italy below. After logging in again with the same login details, you can finally access the currently valid AIP by clicking on the link below Currently Effective Issue. What is annoying, apart from the orgy of clicking, is that you have to keep switching the page to English, but you probably have no other choice as long as you don’t speak Italian. On the other hand, this AIP is very easy to browse. The structure corresponds to the ICAO standard. The AIP is available in Italian and English.

DFS

The AIP is available without registration on the DFS website. Click on the menu at the top left and then on Information -> AIP-Online and click again on AIP-Online to access the AIP. On the following website you can select the AIP VFR Online. There you will find the ICAO structure mentioned above. Unfortunately, you have to open each individual page in PDF format, which is not very convenient. The AIP is available in German and English.

Evaluation of the AIPs

In the following tables I have carried out an evaluation of the three AIPs mentioned. In my opinion, parts that are not applicable or not overly interesting are not listed. This does not mean, however, that they might not be relevant or interesting for the pilot..

Austro Control

As far as I have compared it, Austro Control has largely adhered to the specifications of the ICAO structure.

AIP TeilTitleContent, commentary
GEN 2.2Abbreviations used in AIS PublicationsThe abbreviations commonly used in aviation. Since abbreviations are used extensively in the AIP, sometimes even making them illegible, it is essential to memorize at least the most important abbreviations.
GEN 2.3Chart symbolsThe chart symbols used in the ICAO charts. To read the ICAO charts, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the symbols used in them.
GEN 3.1Aeronautical Information ServicesInformation on AIP Amendments (AMDT), AIP Supplements (SUP), NOTAM (Notice to Airmen), Aeronautical Information Circulars. All the information itself can also be downloaded from the website. The NOTAMs, which should be checked before every flight, should be emphasized.
GEN 3.2Aeronautical ChartsInformation on the aeronautical chart which can be downloaded free of charge from the Austro Control website
GEN 3.4Communication ServicesInformation for all those who use aircraft radio.
GEN 3.6Search and RescueTypes of services, responsibilities, procedures and signals.
ENR 1.1General RulesMinimum flight altitudes, flights with hang gliders and paragliders, special avoidance rules. You should always read through it from time to time and refresh your memory.
ENR 1.2Visual Flight Rules
Minimum visual weather conditions for flight visibility and distance from clouds. Even if some pilots do not adhere to cloud clearances, it has its purpose.
ENR 1.4ATS Airspace ClassificationExplanations of the airspace classes, visual flight minima, available services. Airspace classes is another thing I always have to remind myself of. Since air law is neglected during training, this is a good source to expand your knowledge.
ENR 5.1Prohibited, Restricted and Danger AreasDetailed information on the areas mentioned. The areas are marked and numbered with D- or R- and can be viewed on the ICAO map.
ENR 5.2Military Exercise and Training AreasInformation on military activities such as flight operation times and training areas. Military flights are announced via SUP and NOTAMs.
ENR 5.4Air Navigation Obstacles – En-RouteAeronautical obstacle data. Many Varios are now equipped with an obstacle warning, I suspect the data sets given could be a source for the Varios.
ENR 5.5Aerial Sporting and Recreational ActivitiesTemporary civil airspace reservation (abbreviation TRA). Class C or D airspaces are temporarily cleared for us. The clearances can be intercepted via ATIS, for example.

ENAV

ENAV has also adhered to the ICAO structure, so the AIP is largely comparable with that of Austro Control.

AIP TeilTitleContent, commentary
GEN 2.2Abbreviations used in AIS publicationsSee table Austro Control GEN 2.2.
GEN 2.3Chart symbolsSee table Austro Control GEN 2.3. Unfortunately, the presentation differs from the ICAO charts that I know from Germany and Austria.
GEN 3.1Aeronautical Information ServicesSee table Austro Control GEN 3.1.
GEN 3.2Aeronautical chartsInformation on the aeronautical chart which can be downloaded free of charge in chapter ENR 6.3.
GEN 3.4Communication and navigation servicesSee table Austro Control GEN 3.4.
GEN 3.6Search and rescue (SAR)See table Austro Control GEN 3.6.
ENR 1.1General rulesSee table Austro Control ENR 1.1.
ENR 1.2Visual flight rulesSee table Austro Control ENR 1.2.
ENR 1.4ATS airspace classification and descriptionSee table Austro Control ENR 1.4.
ENR 5.1Prohibited, Restricted, Danger, Temporary Reserved, Temporary Segregaded and Cross Border areasSee table Austro Control ENR 5.1.
ENR 5.2Military exercise and training areas and air defence identification zone (ADIZ)See table Austro Control ENR 5.2.
ENR 5.4Air navigation obstaclesSee table Austro Control ENR 5.4.
ENR 5.5Aerial sporting and recreational activitiesAreas shown on the ICAO map in which corresponding activities are to be expected.
ENR 5.6Bird migration and areas with sensitive faunaNature reserves that are marked on the ICAO map with a bird and a green line. There are a lot of them in the Alps. Especially for us paragliders, who often fly close to the ground, it is advisable to pay attention to this.
ENR 6.3VFR area chartsDownload the ICOA map in PDF format. Italy is divided into 6 areas: Milano, Padova, Roma, Brindisi, Calabira / Sicilia and Sardegna.

DFS

Unfortunately, DFS has only partially adhered to the ICAO specifications, and the PDF pages are linked individually, making reading them very uncomfortable. On the one hand, DFS has included a lot of charts and graphics in the AIP, but on the other hand, the information is not as comprehensive as in the ENAV.

AIP TeilTitleContent, commentary
GEN 2-1 –
2-7
Abbreviations used in AIS publicationsSee table Austro Control GEN 2.2.
GEN 2-11Chart symbolsSee table Austro Control GEN 2.3.
GEN 3-7 – 3-10Flight Information Services (FIS)Information on the flight information service, such as a map of the sectors, frequencies, call signs.
ENR 1-1Airspace in GermanyGraphical representation of the airspace classes and structure in Germany.
ENR 1-3Airspace Classification, Air Traffic Services, Flight ConditionsTabular list of airspace classes, air traffic services, flight conditions.
ENR 1-5 –
1-8h
Regulation for Classes of Airspace With Designation “HX”.
ENR 1-16Minimum safe height for VFR flights
ENR 1-20Radio mandatory zone (RMZ)Rules for flying into an RMZ, flying into it is permitted for pilots with flight radio.
ENR 1-71 –
1-75
Aerial sporting and recreational activitiesAreas shown on the ICAO map where corresponding activities are to be expected.
ENR 3-1 –
3-4D
Restricted Areas and Danger AreasSee table Austro Control ENR 5.1.
ENR 3-15 – 3-19Bird migration and areas with sensitive faunaSee table ENAV ENR 5.6.

More Informationen

In addition to the AIPs mentioned above, the air traffic control authorities offer further valuable information on their respective websites. I plan to write another article about this in this blog.