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FRENCH FLYING RULES (Summarized)

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FOREIGN PILOT, WELCOME IN FRANCE, YOU WILL FIND HEREAFTER A SUMMARY OF THE FRENCH FLYING RULES


Update April 2009: Safety Flyer downloadable here

INTRODUCTION:

French flying rules are settled by the « Direction Générale de l'Aviation Civile » (DGAC). This administration is under the control of the Department of Transport. The collection of these flying rules are gathered in the « Rules of Aeronautical Circulation » (RAC) dealing with the use of spaces and the procedures.

DGAC decrees have defined and regulated ultra-light gliders. The acronym 'P.U.L.' is used, it stands for 'Planeur Ultra Léger'.
One was published in the « Journal Officiel » of November 1, 1985. It states that :

  1. A PUL is a non-powered aircraft, able to take off or to land easily, by using muscular energy of its pilot or potential energy.
  2. A PUL is exempted of navigability certificate.

An other one dated of October 17, 1977 states that : RAC are applying to PULs as far as they can be coherently applied.

A bylaw of May 18, 1978 allowing ultralight flights under 3 conditions :

  • to have the agreement of the owner of take off and landing places ;
  • to know the opinion of the mayor of the flying site ;
  • to be insured for flying activities covering third-party damages.

PRIORITY RULES:

PULs belong to the "Gliders" category.

Between categories, the order of highest to lowest priority is (refer RAC1 3.3.2): Free Balloons, GLIDERS, Dirigible Balloons, Powered Aircrafts. Ie: The Free Balloons have priority upon any other aircraft, then come the Gliders, Then the Dirigible, ...

Within the "Gliders" category (Sailplanes, Paragliders, hang-gliders, ....), standard flight priorities occur (see here-under).

FFVL wants to highlight that priority is one thing, courtesy and common sense are others. Each of them must be kept in mind.

Priorities within the "gliders" category are divided in 2 chapters :

1. AWAY FROM THE SLOPE , THERMALLING :

When 2 PULs are flying face to face, they must break on their RIGHT.

When 2 PULs are flying convergently at same height, the blue PUL coming from the right has priority.
Pink PUL MUST break right or left.

When a PUL overtakes a slower PUL it must be done by the right.
The slower PUL keeps the priority until the end of the overtaking.

A PUL starts thermalling first, he has the priority and choose the rotation sense.
If the second PUL catches the thermal, he MUST turn in the same sense and enter at 180° of the first PUL.

2. NEAR THE SLOPE, SOARING :

Overtaking by left is forbidden.
One must always overtake by right, leaving enough clearance to let the slower glider diverge from the slope if needed.
Blue may overtake Pink by right, but Pink HAS PRIORITY UNTIL THE END OF THE OVERTAKING.

When 2 PULs are flying face to face, the one who has the slope on his right : he has priority.
Blue, who has the slope on his left, MUST GIVE THE WAY to Pink.

Overtaking when slope is on the right for both PULs :
Blue is not authorised to overtake by left.
Blue cannot overtake by right because of the slope.
In this case overtaking is FORBIDDEN.

AIRSPACE RESTRICTIONS:

The following airspaces are NOT ALLOWED to PUL:

  • Any Airspace classified A, B, C, D
  • Any Prohibited spaces, notified by the letter P on aeronautical maps
  • Any Reglemented spaces if Active, notified by the letter R on aeronautical maps
  • Any space surrounding controled aerodromes

There are two distinct official maps showing the necessary aeronautic information:

  1. FRANCE FL195
    1/1.000.000 ,
    modified twice a year,
    Editor: SIA (www.sia.aviation-civile.gouv.fr)
  2. FRANCE Carte Aéronautique
    1/500.000,
    once a year,
    one for each of the four quarters of France,
    Editor: IGN: (www.ign.fr)

PUL flight is allowed in E (controlled) and G (uncontrolled) class airspaces but the following restrictions apply:

  • No flight without visibility: flying in clouds is dangerous and forbidden
  • No flight too close to cloud base, to allow collision avoidance
  • No night flight
  • No flight above 3450m except in authorised spaces in Alps or Pyrénées.

Pilot has to check for specific or temporary information (NOTAMs).
Please report to site boards and ask local pilots.