Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Hello Everyone,


I will be moving to Portugal for work and decided to go back into flying.  I haven't been flying for over 10 years so will probably need to take the full course.  I have been flying ultralights, hand gliders, gliders and paragliding but I want to concentrate on LSA.


I am trying to find information regarding the ability of an English speaking pilot to do cross country in the EU.  Is it realistic to think that I can fly to France, Germany etc without having fluent local language (I will try to learn as much as I can), especially to small airports?


I have a lot of other questions but maybe I can get some views on this one before moving forward.





Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't been to Europe for quite a while but even when I was and flying out of larger airports which should have been English using there were some funny moments trying to get my message across IF it was in any way much different from what would be anticipated. I expect in the more remote areas the local language will prevail (Why wouldn't it?) Holland might be an exception . They have English as a second language.   Nev

Link to post
Share on other sites

You will find that in Spain and France many of the small fields will be Spanish/French only - airfield info will show it clearly - so you will need to be able to follow and do all comms in that language if you want to visit all/any airfields.  

Larger fields will be in English so you can avoid having to do it in local but you will be limited to more mainstream. 

I generally flew around the English language fields in Spain as my Spanish was not really up to it at the time but  my French was functional for circuit use so I could get around most of it. 

Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands are all full English as is the Uk 🇬🇧 😛

can’t get into Switzerland with a ULM so can’t comment on them.  

Northern Italy was fine with English legally but I found many airfields just ignored that and it was Italian all over the airwaves and I just followed process and fitted in with patterns.


  • Informative 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are flying IFR, English would be usable as it is all supposedly done in English.

Maybe hard to understand in some places.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you all for your replies !  One last question about landing fees etc.  Any good source online to find that out?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Josh,


Can't speak for Portugal, but French landing fees are a pittance (except Le Touquet, which is the mecca for British Piliots and as British pilots are used to being fleeced on Landing fees, the 25 or 30EUR is not unexpected). As an example, I few years ago, I flew to Angers (pronounced on-jzer), which is a decent sized regional airport (i.e. can take at least 737s and Airbus equivalents) and from memory the landing fee was EUR15 and no parking charge for the first 24 hours.  Of course, smaller farm fields here don't fleece you, but that is the price I pay for staying GA. (there's a slogan there, I think).


In France, airfields denoted AA are French speaking only - sometimes airfields are AA for certain periods (I think Le Touquet and Calais are AA on Tuesdays). You only need to know the joining call and circuit/landing/taxying/take-off calls... and oif course the numbers zero through 9. I take a cribb sheet, though have never used it as I have always used English coming into France. Flying in with a TB20 helped, of course, but that was only once. My examiner took me on a flight to France, we went to an AA field, he used all English.. Some cranky flying club official came out and was lecturing us in a rather animated fashion; my examiner game a Gallic shrug and that was it. His view was that most of them speak English and those that don't know an aircraft is around somehwere and keep a good lookout. I call the field in advance and get "permission" to visit using English.


Not being a LSA pilot, I can't be 100% sure, but most countries have their own verion of a Rec Piliots Certificate, but you can also get an EASA LAPL (Light Aircraft Pilots Licence). This will allow you to fly in their airpsace in a LSA registered to another country, without prior permission. For example, Belgium I think require something like a 90 Euro payment and prior permission to enter., and it is per trip. Before Brexit, the UK, Germany, France, Spain, and I think Italy (not sure about Austria) had an agreement to allow LSAs to enter their airspace without prior permission for up to 90 days at a time, I think. Had great fun in a 2 seat trike crossing the channel once.



Phil Perry will know a lot more about it than me....


Edited by Jerry_Atrick
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Jerry,


Thank you very much for the information.  15 Euros to land at a mid size airport and get 24 hours of parking sounds reasonable to me.  I do plan to get the LAPL licence.  I also found the French cheat sheet with all the info on joining and departing and I am willing to learn in order not to get yelled at...😜

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Enjoy your endeavours... Of course, I would also recommend taking a look at the EASA PPL.. I am not sure of the differences in the training and medical requirements, but I don't think it is that much.. and it gives you a whole lot more flexibility. As an example, I had everything organised for a Sojourn to Anzac Cove in the shareoplane for last year's Anzac day, but the pandemic put pay to that. You can certainly do it with an LSA and LAPL, but its a lot more pain. Also, the fleet you have access to in Europe has much more variety and I think (but don't quote me) you can fly LSA on your EASA PPL - though it may pay to triple check.


You can hire Robins, AT-3s and all sorts - muchmore variety than in Aus or the US (or the UK for that matter).

Link to post
Share on other sites

Switzerland: English is understood everywhere, but sometimes answered in French in the French speaking part. Landing fees are high, 20.— to 30.— is common.

France: On bigger airports English is good, most of the other airfields are French, but if you greet them in French they very often understand a lot of the Englisch phraseology (but only if 🙂 ). Understanding the standard phrases in French provides you with a pictures what the others do. Landing fees are lower or will, as stated above.

Germany: English is understood about everywhere, understanding the standard phrases in German helps to get a clear picture of the situation, however. Landing fees are reasonable.

Check with each country whether your license / your plane is allowed (except for PPL which is valid everywhere), we are still very far away from United States of Europe…


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Vous ne parlez pas français" and "Parlez-vous anglais?" generally gets your respondent replying in English. A very large percentage of French know English well enough to converse in it.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Thanks again guys.  I plan to purchase an ELSA/LSA instead of renting.  The plan is to do cross country as much as possible.


I am not sure of the tax/registration rules in the EU.  Still trying to understand if there are ways to save money on tax or any other advantages to register in one country or another (or if it's even possible)...

Edited by JoshB
Link to post
Share on other sites

Unf, like Australia, all EU countries are required to levy VAT. This is done at the point of sale and there is now't much that can be done about it when you hand over the cash. Note, if it is an imported aircraft,. chances are it has had import duties paid as well.


While it is a legal requirement that EU countrues charge VAT, each countries rules are slightly different. The minimum rate is 15%, but they can charge what they like, and there are exemptions to the 15% as well (e.g. staple foods, etc). A quick look here gives you the rates of each EU country: https://www.avalara.com/vatlive/en/vat-rates/european-vat-rates.html. During the pandemic, VAT rates have been cut for some countries.


As mentioned, each country's rules are different, and I am going off the UK rules, that haven't changed since leaving the EU (why get rid of a cash cow the population is used to paying for?)


You can either run your purchase through an existing company registered for VAT, or you can form a company and register it for VAT. This is oiptional for companies with a revenue < £85k. Once registered, you can claim your input VAT paid (i.e. the VAT you are charged for when making purchases for your business) against the output VAT (the amount of VAT you collect from sales by your business). So, what happens is yoy buy an aircraft for say £150K + VAT. The VAT will be £30K. You will have to hand the seller £180K. It is illegal for the seller not to collect VAT for these types of transactions.


But if yiour VAT registered company buys it, your VAT reigstered company can claim the £30K as input VAT. If you had no sales in the quarter you purchased your aircraft, you have no output VAT to offset you input VAT, so, assuming you made no other purchases, HMRC will deposit the £30K into your company account.


But.. there are a couple of gotchas.. First is that any private use of the aircraft will have to have VAT charged against it. So, if you hire it out, VAT has to be applied. If you use it yourself, you have to work out a fair value of the rental you would have paid, and you have to pay VAT on that fair value. In other words, every time you privately use the aircraft, you have to pay a 20% tax based on the fair value rental of the aircraft. This doesn't have to me market rates, but it has to cover all costs of the iarcraft including depreciation,  maintenance, etc. Secondly, you are simply deferring the payment of the VAT (i.e. lowering the cost of purchasing the aircraft, but not the total cost)


If, for example you decide that it is a pain in the proverbial to pay that tax when flying, and make quarterly VAY returns, etc., then you can unregister for VAT or dissolve the company - or trasnfer ownershipo to yourself as a person. When that is done, you have to pay the VAT at the purchase price (no allowance for depreciation). Or, when you sell the aircraft, the buyer has to pay VAT on the sale price of the aircrtaft. This sounds OK until you realise that you have to doscount your selling prtice so the VAT inclusive price the buyer pays is the market price of the second hand aircraft. In the UK and Europe, you will often see used aircraft ads with + VAT or Vat Paid. The former means the original VAT had been reclaimed and it has to be paid again; the latter means the VAT is paid and not reclaimed.


So, you think, "Hey, I know.. My company will sell me the aircraft at a discount price and I will pay little VAT in the end." Well, in the UK, HMRC don't like that very much. Firstly, if you do sell, you have to physcially transfer the sale price to the company (unles the company owes you at least that much in directors loans). And if you re-draw it even after a few months, they will consider it not a sale and you will be liable for the whole original VAT amount. If the HMRC deem you have trasferred at a materially lower than market value, they will top it up to market value and you will have to pay the VAT on that (+ interest at something like 20% + Bank of England interest rate). And they compound it every month or something like that.. One thing the HMRC hates - and since the merge of Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise they have more powers than the Spcial Branch of the police (anti-terrorism) - is being gypped out of money.


The best that you can do is defer the payment - and possibly later reduce the payment of VAT - but it will still have to be paid.


These are the UK rules as they were a few years ago (haven't kept up with changes relating to aircraft). The EU country you buy in will inevitably be different. The best thing is to find the lowest customs (if imprted from outside the EU) and VAT rate country within the EU to purchase your aircraft, make sure there are no gotchas and buy it there (assuming new) or find a used one there. Once VAT is paid in an EU country, it is paid across the EU - another country can't charge an equivalence VAT rate.


Of course, if the VAT paid is worth it, an hour or so with a good accountant should give you better advice than I could ever give.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...