About twenty small aircraft from Helsinki-Malmi Airport will take off today after 4pm to get acquainted with operations at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. The City of Helsinki threatens to terminate aviation activities at Malmi at the end of this year. Helsinki-Vantaa is the only applicable alternative to the capital region’s general aviation within 150 km.
According to the flight rules and the Finnish Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP), Helsinki-Vantaa is an airport that can be used in the normal manner. The airport operators Finavia Ltd and ANS Finland, though, want to strictly limit small-aircraft traffic. According to information given to pilots, the apron is not available for parking more than two aircraft that follow visual flight rules (VFR) at a time. In practice this means that such aircraft have to depart before new ones can arrive.
In addition, the air traffic control limits small-aircraft traffic so that arrivals and departures for general aviation happen take place with 15-minute intervals. The maximum operations capacity for a 15-minute period, as declared by the airport, is 22 operations, and there are plenty of arrival time slots available. There is no separate notice to airmen (NOTAM) about these things. A statement about this has now been requested also from Traficom, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency.
General aviation by definition covers all other forms of aviation but commercial air transport and state aviation operations (in practice military aviation). The most common general aviation activities in Finland are pilot training, search and rescue operations, agriculture and forestry related flights, air taxi operations, business aviation, hobby aviation and ambulance flights.
The last time that small aircraft made a visit to Helsinki-Vantaa was five years ago. Since then Helsinki-Vantaa’s airspace class has been changed from C to the more flexible D, where pilots observe each other visually and take care not to cross paths too closely. In C class, this separation of flights is done by the air traffic control.
The State-owned airport operator Finavia Ltd likely has to introduce new methods and services also for small aircraft, if the State allows operations at Helsinki-Malmi Airport to be shut down before the Parliament’s statement about substitutive airfields within reasonable distance and accessibility is realized. This would entail e.g. more flexible air traffic according to visual flight rules (VFR) as well as fuelling services and hangar space also for small aircraft. Helsinki-Malmi Airport is home to about 100 aircraft, and the number of annual operations is about 40.000. It’s worthwhile to note that Finnair operates about 80 aircraft.
The overall responsibility for aviation in Finland lies with the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The Minister of Transport Sanna Marin has been invited to Helsinki-Vantaa to get acquainted with the situation and to discuss especially the future arrangements of general aviation in the capital region.
The pilots will be available for discussion between 4pm and 8pm at the business aviation terminal of Helsinki-Vantaa. A briefing will take place at about 4:50pm depending on Helsinki-Vantaa’s traffic situation.
Finavia’s message about restrictions (in Finnish). Translation:
Subject: VFR flights EFHF – EFHK, large number of slot requests
Helsinki-Vantaa is a SLOT coordinated CDM airport, and its main function is to serve and ensure the punctual flow of passenger traffic. The airport has to limit VFR traffic. There is a limited number of parking places (stands) for aircraft in front of the business terminal.
Because of this we have to limit general aviation VFR traffic as follows:
No more than two general aviation aircraft can be parked on the apron at any given time. In practice this means that these aircraft must depart before new ones can arrive. In addition the air traffic control, in order to ensure aviation safety and unhindered flow of scheduled traffic, limits VFR traffic as follows:
ARR time at Vantaa at 15 minute intervals (AP slot). DEP times from Vantaa at 15 minute intervals. The Air traffic control limits the number of VFR aircraft in the control zone and the available VFR gateways depending on the amount of traffic and runway combinations. The pilots must prepare to hold outside the VFR gateways and to use VFR gateways other than specified in the flight plan.
An aircraft arriving at Helsinki-Vantaa must also have a handler responsible for applying for a slot and updating CDM times. Aircraft arriving at Helsinki-Vantaa can request handling services at the business terminal. As you have applied for slot times in one email, we ask you to inform us about the aircraft that will be arriving to Helsinki-Vantaa under the terms specified above.”