| Vienna International Airport|
|IATA: VIE – ICAO: LOWW|
|Operator||Flughafen Wien AG|
|Serves|| Vienna, Austria|
|Hub for|| Austrian Airlines|
|Elevation AMSL||183 m / 600 ft|
The airport of the Austrian capital Vienna, is located south-east of the city and is connected by a train (called CAT – City Airport Train) as well as a motorway to the Viennese City Center. The airport is famous as an east-west junction with over 15.9 Million passengers a year. The profitable Eastern Europe routes are provided by the homecarrier Austrian.
In the year 2005 the “Flughafen Wien AG” started to build the so called SKYLINK, an additional terminal in the eastern part of the airport which offers space for 91 check-in counters as well as 51 additional gates (5 of them are A380-approved). In the year 2006 the new air traffic control tower was opened. With it’s height of 109 meters, it’s the tallest control tower in Europe. It can be seen from far away, so it got a landmark for the airport.
Terminal 1 offers space for the carriers of Star Alliance, Aeroflot and Emirates. Terminal 1A is located right opposite of Terminal 1 and is a temporarily building to bridge the capacity constraint until the new SKYLINK Terminal will be finished soon. In this Terminal there are mainly located low-cost carriers, such as NIKI, Air Berlin, Germanwings etc.
The airport offers 2 asphalt runways with orientations 11/29 (3.500 meters) and 16/34 (3.600 meters). All of them are equipped with a ILS system, 2 of them offer CAT III B. Just recently (April 2012), a decision has been made to build a third runway parallel to 11-29.
LOWW for Pilots
A quick look around
Vienna Airport is a medium range international airport, which - like many of them - has grown organically. Like all airports of this kind, they have peculiarities - most of them making life complicated for controllers.
On the ground
Aprons and parking positions
(See the LOWW charts "overview" and "parking positions", available [here].)
- General Aviation West is at the far west behind the exits Q1 and P1. This area is for really small aircraft.
- Technical base (if you blew up a tyre on landing) is next, opposite Exit 14 and 15. Many GAC pilots start from there (for whichever reason).
- General Aviation East is not really in the East, but rather "east of the GAC West": It is on L between technical base and the main terminal. Most GAC pilots start from here. In real life, this area is for the business class aircraft.
- Apron B is next to the East come two rows of stands for smaller aircraft. Regional planes like Dash, Beech 1900 or RJ87 go there often, and it is also the company apron of Austrian regional connector flights. Beware of the one-way street: B71-B75 enter and leave (pushback) via taxilane 31. B81-B85 enter via taxilane 32 and leave (no pushback) via taxilane 31. B91-B96 enter via taxilane 33 and leave (no pushback) via taxilane 32.
- Pier West covers the C gates. It is the "Schengen" pier with no passport control. Log in for your departure, if you fly within the Schengen area. The two gates at the corner (C36 and C39) are suitable for Heavies. Expect some broken glass in the terminal, if you log into C31 with an Airbus A330 :-). Most Non-Star-Alliance-aircraft depart from here.
- Pier East covers the D gates. This is the "Non-Schengen" pier, mostly for Non-Star-Alliance-aircraft. Again, the corner goates (D23, D27) are Heavy gates.
- Further East along taxiway L are the E stands. In this area the low cost carriers park, as gates are more expensive than stands. Aircraft park nose-south: They enter via taxilane 36 and leave onto L.
- East of the main terminal is the new Skylink, now named [Check-in 3] Access for aircraft is divided: For the south (F01-F37, odd), aircraft use taxilane 35/26, for the north (F04-F36, even), it's taxilane 40. Check-in 3 is Schengen-and-non-Schengen and is the home pier for the Star Alliance fleet.
- Taxilanes 35/36/37 are one-way streets, but the direction changes according to runway configuration. Expect ground controller to issue a "pushback facing east/west" clearance. If you don't get any facing instruction, face east, as you are most likely to get out this way.
- Taxilane 38 is exit-only: Aircraft parking on F41-F59, as well as F41-F50 use it to leave.
- The H apron is north of taxilane 40. H41-H48 are pushback stands, H49-H50 leave via taxilane 42.
- The K apron is for cargo and at the very northeast, accessible via E and taxilane 43.
Where to log in with which aircraft
If you want to fly as-real-as-it-gets, then you can use the following guidelines for login:
- Star Alliance birds of the size of an A320 or more usually park at the skylink.
- Non-Star Alliance aircraft park on the pier West (Schengen) and East (Non-Schengen)
- Low Cost Carrier usually start from the E apron and F41-F59, as well as the H apron.
- Cargo leaves from K
- Larger GAC aircraft (like a Challenger) leave from B or GAC East
- Small GAC aircraft (like sports aircraft) leave from GAC West.
- Super-large birds have F44, F48, H49 and H50. Sorry, no gates for the A380 in Vienna.
On high traffic situations (Like the Weekly Wed) it might be good to look around before loggin in - you might sit on top of another aircraft. You can use [the gatelist] from the VACC Austria homepage or use the more remote places to log in, like the corners of the Pier (C31, C42, D21, D29) or the mostly vacant Check-in 3. There is no hassle on B, E and H stands.
This is, where the "evolutionary" design of Vienna airport hits reality - Vienna is not quite spacious to taxi around. Make sure to be slow enough and to follow ground controller instructions - you find yourself in the grass, in a building, head on to or even crashing into a fellow aircraft if you don't. Be aware: There is no follow-me car in Vienna, even if MSFS shows you one. Be so kind and follow the instructions of the ground controller or face a disconnect. On busy days (like the weekly wednesday) you can seriously screw up traffic by not following instructions.
Also, unlike other major airports (like EGLL), there are no unique and published taxiing directions - taxiways are used in either way following runway configuration. There is not even a uniform standard, how controllers handle traffic for specific runway configurations - it's where controllers do it their ways.
If you fly into Vienna with ATC control, then you get taxi instructions - follow them, full stop.
If you don't, then you can use the following rough guidelines: You have some roughly parallel taxiways with W-L into one way and M-E into the opposite direction. Easiest is to follow these taxiways right-around. ATC will guide you differently (as right-around-only is inefficient), but if you have not, it is most likely that you don't end up nose-to-nose:
- Departure rwy 11: Taxi down to L (coming from the north: via W), changing to M on exit 12, if you are more than a light aircraft (wingspan - you might smash some Cessnas standing around on GAC East) for departure from A11 or A12. Taxilane 36 is eastwards for W.
- Departure rwy 16: Taxi down to M and via Ex1 and Ex24 up E to Ex31. Taxilane 36 is eastwards to W where (strictly followed) you should drive right-around (W, Ex2, Ex1, Ex24, E) or you might look out and cut the corner to the left and Ex23 to E.
- Departure rwy 29: Taxi down to M (from north: via W)
- Departure rwy 34: Taxi down to M and E - from north: only via E.
- Arrival rwy 11: Leave on M, take next exit to L to the terminal, or take A2, Ex1 Ex24 and E for the northern stands. Right-around would also mean that taxilane 36 is eastwards via Ex7 and taxilane 35.
- Arrival rwy 16: Vacate to E and taxi up to the northern aprons, or turn left for L for the terminal and for taxilanes 35+36.
- Arrival rwy 29: Leave to M and taxi to the terminal, or take Ex1, Ex24 and E for the northern apron.
- Arrival rwy 34: Take W and taxilane 40 for the northern aprons or L for and taxilane 35-36 for GAC, terminals and southern stands. If you brake hard, you can cut the corner and vacate B4 and L.
... from Vienna is like any other larger airport. You have delivery, Ground and Tower and follow the procedures.
ATIS in Vienna is at 122.95. Please tune it in before asking for clearance.
- Controllers love voice partners, and if this is not possible, voice receivers. If you are text-only, then expect delays - voice is first when times get busy.
- Don't worry if you are a newbie - everyone was one. Please write it into the comment field of your flight plan and take your time. Controllers get along with pilots asking "say again", taxiing slowly, but doing the right thing. They are unhappy with those who hurry and mess up traffic (and they dislike impolite people). If you want guidance for your first flights (via teamspeak for example), you might want to make you a login at the [VACC Austria Forum] and put a request into [this section], and some people will be glad to help you along.
Vienna has one clearance altitude for all departures: 5000ft (local QNH). Transition altitude is 5000ft too, but this is a coincidence. For you it means, that you have to change your altimeter after handoff to Approach, not before.
ATC will give you a SID.
- If you are unable for RNAV departures (i.e.: if you don't have a FMC), then please state it in your flight plan and file a non-RNAV flight plan. There are two non-RNAV departures per runway (to WGM VOR and SNU VOR), from which you will get one. From there, you will fly direct to your next waypoint.
- If you are unable to fly any SID, then you can ask for vectored departure. You will receive initial instructions from Delivery (like "stay on runway heading") and further instructions from ATC. Bear in mind, that ATC can deny vectored departures, if the air is boiling.
- For noise abatement reasons, some SID's are closed after 21:00 local time. See the charts to find out, which. Some controllers use noise abatement, some don't.
Push and Start
Some folks ask for push and fall asleep. Some folks ask for push, push and then fall asleep. Both mess up ground movements considerably. If you are slow with your plane, then please start up on the gate and ask for push when ready.
- Vienna has defined SIDs, so you should fly them. Most of them are RNAV. There are vectored departures on request or on ATC's discretion.
- Expect to be transferred to the appropriate approach controller right after takeoff - tune the frequency into standby already on ground. If Tower forgets, you might remind him with a polite "<callsign>, airborne" once you pass 2000ft or so :-)
- On all normal days, there is only one approach controller at 128,20.
- On very-high-traffic events like "Finally Austria", Approach is divided north-south, with either 128,20 or 118,77 - look for the active stations while still on ground. "Your" station varies according to the SID you fly - it's in the SID chart.
- If no Approach controller is online, LOVV_CTR with 134,15 is your station, and if this station is offline, contact UNICOM at 122,8.
You will enter the approach procedures when reaching the initial STAR waypoints. Before you reach them, listen to LOWW_ATIS at 122.95, and when transferred to Approach, you call in with callsign, position, altitude and ATIS on board:
LHA123: Wien Radar, Leipzig123, inbound VENEN, FL270 descending to FL240, ATIS B on board. LOWW_APP: Leipzig 123, Wien radar, identified, cleared VENEN2W arrival, descend FL100.
Like every major European airport, LOWW has STAR, transitions and approaches:
ATC will most likely clear you a STAR and an altitude to descend. At the end of each STAR is a holding which you might be ordered to enter. Altitudes on the chart are minimum altitudes - ATC will tell you the altitude to fly. In the case of Vienna, STARs are also unique: From each entry point, there is only one STAR to take. As a pilot, you could as well key in the STAR into your FMC straight away.
Transitions are runway-specific - you know your transition once you know the runway, and you know the runway once you listened to ATIS. Therefore, you can key in your STAR while on cruise, and your transition while approaching or flying the STAR. Don't forget: ATC will clear you the transition or vector you.
It is vital that you have your transition on FMC, as (see below) ATC might order you to cut corners and then continue to fly the transition. It is also vital, that you look up the approach chart once you know the runway and key in the necessary frequencies for ILS approach and for go-around.
On busy days, the last phase before landing has a Director: He/she is responsible for the nitty-gritty spacing in the "string of pearls" where traffic is dense for two reasons: 1) aircraft merge from all directions, and 2) aircraft slow down. Expect ATC transfer you, if Director is online. Usually, you call Director "callsign only" - no position, no altitude, only "Wien Director, Leipzig 123".
Once established on the ILS (or on visual final), Director will transfer you to Tower.
How to handle directions on approach
- Usually, you are cleared a STAR and transition - As soon as you know ATIS, you are able to key in the transition into your FMC.
- If ATC orders you to fly direct to a waypoint on the STAR or transition, you fly direct to the waypoint and then follow the transition to final.
- If ATC never orders an altitude, you fly the altitudes on the charts (but ATC never does that).
- If ATC vectors you, than you leave STAR and transition altogether (expect to be vectored or direct-ed until final).
- If ATC orders you to level UNTIL a certain waypoint, descend at your descretion, as long as you match the altitude at that point (you can level off before).
- If ATC orders you to level AT a certain waypoint, then calculate well and descend to meet the altitude at the point - not before, not after.
- If in doubt, ask!
Vacating and taxiing
- If you land on rwy11/29 and rwy34, then vacating throws you into the middle of dense traffic - stop on the exit and wait for ground instructions.
- If you vacate from rwy16, then you can roll on D or E and wait for instructions - frees the exit for the next hungry aircraft behind. You should definitely stop before D4 or E4 - they are ILS critical holding points which you should not cross without clearance.
... is published on the charts - please set your squawk 7600 and follow it.