If you are a pilot from across the pond and plan to visit the UK to do some flying, a recent post Jill W. Tallman for the AOPA Reporting Points blog about the differences between flying in the USA verses flying in the UK is a must read. Jill began her post by noting that a friend of hers named Fox Cutter had visited the UK and spent some time at the airport in Cardiff to find out what its like to fly UK style. According to Fox, there are a couple of things that will trip up pilots from the USA if they are flying in the UK:
1) How pressure is measured
In the UK, pressure is measured in millibars instead of inches and there are actually two pressure measures: QNH and QFE. According to Fox:
QNH is the setting for sea level, it’s just like you would get in an ATIS over here. QFE is where you might have trouble, this is the pressure setting for your altitude over the airport. As the highest airport in Britain is about 700 feet, the use of QFE is a convenience, it lets you land at zero. You might be tempted to ignore this, you’re used to landing at every elevation so it’s natural for you, do not do that.
Many of the altitudes for VFR approaches are based on QFE. If you don’t know this you can find yourself flying two or three hundred feet lower than you should be.
2) How airspace is used
In the UK, there is no Class B airspace while Class F “sneaks in” around the north parts of the country and Class A airspace all over the place. Hence and if you are flying in the UK, Fox noted that you will need to be familiar with the local airspace.
3) Lack of online charts
In the UK, there is “no good way” to view the relevant aeronautical charts online. Hence, Fox pointed out that you will need to pick one up at the airport. Moreover, you will also need to double check if your planned altitude will get you anywhere near Class A airspace.
Jill’s post and Fox’s comments provide a great summary of the differences between flying in the USA verses flying in the UK. However, we would like to ask our readers who have flown both in the UK and the USA one quick question: Are there any other items not mentioned above that might trip up USA based pilots flying in the UK for the first time? Feel free to comment below.