Non icao airports

For AFIS, in Germany and probably elsewhere there exist some interesing small airports which do not have an icao ident. They have a 4 number national registration however, at least in Germany.
I was asking my regional group whether it is possible to sit there as AFIS but reply was without icao it is not wanted in vatsim and could raise technical issues like not showing up in some tools or whatever.
How could this situation be improved? Would it be possible for example to declare in vatsim a custom list of airport id like xplane does? Eg EDxx with xx being an enumeration?
Best regards

Hi Stefan,

You can basically fly anywhere you wish. Having done heaps of vMIL RW and FW aircraft I have on numerous occasions landed/departed from farm strips, highways, etc.

The key is ensuring your FP provides a controller with some clarity. There are format under ICAO which allow you to clearly show what you are doing outside of airways, waypoints etc. I did a guide for myself, which explains the FP requirements.


As I’m flying a lot of VFR in my local region, I know your problem kinda good. The planes I’m flying in the sim are mostly “IRL” planes, owned by my glider club. In the evening, I’m normally flying back to my club’s airstrip that has no ICAO code, just this “German” Code (DE-0100). I’m normally just typing ZZZZ as Arrival and put a remark into the flight plan: ADES/GROSSES MOOR (ADES stays for Aerodrome Of Destination). I’ve never ran into any issues with this technique

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But the op is not asking about flying, but controling those strips as AFIS, as far as i understand.

At first, I was going to ask if these airfields actually use AFIS or not. But then I was thinking, VATSIM Germany (and every FIR/ARTCC/Subdivision/Division) has a responsibility to invest wisely in volunteer time and resources.

If these airfields are small enough that they don’t warrant an ICAO code, for whatever reason, the likelihood of them getting enough traffic to warrant developing procedures, training personnel, etc. is extremely low. I can’t speak for the VATSIM Germany staff that seemingly have already declined the request, but if the answer was based on prioritizing volunteer time and resources towards investing where they would have more impact, I would understand and agree.

If you think there is more traffic at these fields that would warrant another look, I suggest you collect airfield usage data for fields in Germany on VATSIM, including these fields, and present your data-driven proposal to VATSIM Germany staff. However, my gut tells me you may not find the data you’re hoping would be able to prove a solid return on investment.

Hi Stefan,
also this “DE-xxxx” number is nothing official - it is just a numbering some online databases use for these airfields as there is no official code for them (usually airfields according §6 or §25 LuftVG). Same with what XPlane is using and MSFS users again have fake ICAO codes which is a problem in itself… If there was a united effort to get those IDs unified between XPlane and MSFS that could be a starting point for something usable.

Like it was already stated all those are indicated by ZZZZ and the name in Item 18 as ADEP/ or ADES/ in the FPL. In RL there is no need to login with a certain code as a Flugleiter - some of them are even relieved of the “Flugleiterpflicht” but also limited to a defined list of known pilots - thus requiring PPR for operation of externals.

On VATSIM this all is a bit complicated - in Germany we have some frequencies reserved for airfields without dedicated approved frequencies but that doesn’t help for the login. It’s more a question you should ask in the VATSIM Germany forum to the Nav Team and staff there than here. With 8.33 it is at least not the big issue anymore to use the frequencies but the login issue remains in general. For individual airfields it usually doesn’t make any sense to do make an effort to maintain this info as often details are changing which aren’t published via the common channels and one would have to check the indiviual pages of all those airfields (>700 in Germany) for e.g. changes on frequencies etc. With the extremely low traffic those airfields see I think it will only be a case-by-case thing for individual places but then it’s the question how to integrate that into the viewing tools which are already struggling with the much more important ATC sectors and there correct depiction as well as getting updates to existing stuff there…

So in short - contact VATSIM Germany Nav department for this. :slight_smile:

Micha - I was in contact with our regional nav team but it was refused somehow to go with a virtual ID, from vateud or so. I have not asked further there.
How would I show up in tools like vatspy? On the other hand: As AFIS with our _I_TWR login, vatglasses does not show us right now, so this is acceptable.
But how could afv audio know where my station is located to calculate the distance proberly? Somehow the station of frequency must be registered with geo coordinates, right? If this is done what would speak against using non icao airfields as AFIS? What would be other limitations?

Can I ask if we are talking about putting Services at airfields that dont have Services in Real World? Could be mistaken in my following of the thread.

In Germany, all airports have some sort of service IRL - the uncontrolled ones have at least a type of AFIS and you can’t legally fly at a field that currently has nobody providing some kind of service.
What Stefan is talking about is that there are many airports throughout the country (and Germany is not alone with this) that don’t have an ICAO code or any code at all; they are simply registered with their full name.

@1627359 I don’t believe that is entirely accurate. For commercial and IFR operations, you are correct that at least a FISO must be present and provide service.

However, for non-commercial operations (eg out of hours), there used to be a requirement in Germany for the airfield to be manned (ie have staff on the ground), but they didn’t have to be operating a radio or giving any service. This person was known as a Flugleiter and only needed to be capable of calling the emergency services should an accident occur. Of course, it is much better if that person can offer even the most basic Air/Ground service, but that’s not required.

AOPA Germany reported that since 2022, that requirement has been withdrawn, although many airfields may still enforce it. In the real world, I have in the past had to pay for someone to come out specially just to tell me over the radio which runway was in use and what the wind was doing. In most other countries, there is no requirement for anybody to be on the ground and you can arrive/depart VFR with only traffic broadcast announcements to other pilots in the local area.

Interesting, do you have the article/law on that handy by chance?
The requirement of someone needing to provide at least AFIS for you to be allowed to fly at an airport was reiterated in my theory lessons just earlier this year :thinking:

There is indeed a transition ongoing in germany to remove the requirement for rescue service which was the primary requirement for an AFIS or “Flugleiter” as we call in germany. However afaik you still must announce your flight to the Flugleitung in advance.
However in vatsim it´s still some service people look for as target, even when you can only give minor infos. If you dont look for some kind of controller communication you can play offline and land anywhere on your own.
OT: Note that AFIS can also sit on some airport which allows for IFR traffic, where the AFIS “controller” must ask for clearances from a true controller above. Those airports are surrounded by a RMZ, radio mantadory zone. And some like EDQD offer nice circeling approches to opposite runway direction in case of special wind situations. Sadly, not much used. Autopilot approches to 12000ft runways, 200ft wide, seem to be more interesting

Just to demonstrate the need for non-icao airfields: This is a wind prediction of sunday of alpin area south of germany, munich. We have southern wind which is perfect for sailing planes as it builds up huge waves in the alp mountains. Sadly, I marked the german airports close to the alps - they are all not usable in vatsim for sailing plane events (and with MSFS enhancements motor driven drags are possible?) as they all have no ICAO code!!!
The most northern X close to the scaling info of 20km alone is Königsdorf, hosting 6 (Six!) individual sailing plane clubs alone! It would be nice to host this airport to let them go up by winding or by plane drag to the closest mountain, usually the Blomberg near BadTölz. Sadly - not possible in vatsim…

Well you can fly from there just fine, you just cant open up afis at those fields

Yes, for sure… You can fly also IFR from any major airport, yet the people look for atc controlled airports and barely take off or land from non-controlled ones. Guess why?
You do not need even vatsim to fly, what drives sim pilots to use vatsim, can you tell me?

Yes but in real life there would only be a flugleiter, not even really an afis on these fields, so there is really not much to simulate, also they would not appear on any maps of vatsim so most pilots wouldnt even notice these places being staffed

If you want to bring live to these fields it would probably be more productive to just make a group flight to one of the places with some friends, brings in probably more trafic than one of these fields randomly showing up in the pilot clients without even being visible on the vatsim maps

Nothing much to simulate? Maybe yes, but how much repeating instructions are given by IFR ATC? Always same taxi, always same clearances… departure - climb to higher level good bye?

Yes I want to get VFR more busy. For me VFR is the better flying as it is flying, not just hitting AP after takeoff or 1000ft AGL before touch down. I understand lots fo pilots still get exited clicking buttons here and there in the cockipit, but after getting used to same clicks they get bored to let the AP/program do the major job.
We need more flexibillity in event hosting including AFIS or Flugleiter on non icao airfields!
MSFS supports with some plugins as far as I understood sailing plane dragging by motor driven planes, thats cool. Happened on my field once, but that was random that those 2 guys managed it.
A true event would give all parties lot of fun, yet it must be for the sailers in the right spots. And an event in vatsim means ATC or AFIS, naturally. But we cant do at the moment. I understand vatsim is about professionell ATC, but the online world is also about fyling, mostly actually. Its not only a controller network, its a pilot network too, you can not deny it. And this includes all kind of VFR. And the sims get better there too.

As a sailplane pilot, I disagree that this is something that should be given any significant effort. For the extremely few VATSIM members who would know how to find and stay in thermals or waves, in the very lacking modelling that the VATSIM compatible flightsims offers, it should be more than enough to just fire up the sim, connect to the network, and go fly.

You don’t need a guy with a radio on the ground to enjoy some sailplane simming. Indeed, in Norway, on quiet days with experienced pilots and everyone staying up, the coordinator sometimes jumps in a plane.

If you want large scale sailplane events where it would make sense to have anyone act as ops/coordinator, you want to look into Condor (2), not VATSIM flightsims. The standard ATC training and staffing is strained already, trying to create a niche sailplane ops rating has very potential gain associated with it.