Short Runway, Surrounded by Mountains - A Florentine Adventure @ LIRQ Florence [Expert Server: Closed]

Short Runway, Surrounded by Mountains - A Florentine Adventure

We are proud to announce, that with tomorrow’s fantastic IFATC Schedule Captain Zen and I are going to take the rare opportunity of opening Florence (LIRQ). Together we will provide well-planned radar and tower services at one of Europe’s most interesting and demanding airports. In this thread, we are encouraging you to visit us by flying in or out in order to experience all the peculiarities this airport has to offer. Below we will present to you the city of Florence, the airport and its idiosyncrasy, our efficient air traffic control strategy, and a visualized map and detailed list of all commercial flights for you to choose from. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the procedures before flying in or out.

Date and Time - 2020-06-07T14:00:00Z2020-06-07T16:30:00Z

Florence - A City whose Airport Is as Extraordinary as Itself

Florence, located in the heart of Tuscany, Italy, has been a symbol of art, beauty, and sophistication for centuries. The small example of a metropolis accommodates one of the most beguiling urban communities in Italy, loaded with history, craftsmanship, and wonderful design, all with a community feel. Florence, the birthplace of the renaissance, has been home to many famous artists, including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Donatello.

Florence’s “Amerigo Vespucci” airport has a few unique characteristics that make it a challenge for us pilots. The airport is surrounded by high mountains, which is why airliners can only approach it from one direction, and leave it by using the other side of the runway, which means that the airport pretty much lies in a “basin”. The fairly short and not very wide runway makes operating at Amerigo Vespucci even more demanding. Since there is no taxiway that runs parallel to the runway, arriving as well as departing aircraft are required to back-taxi in order to use the full length of the runway.
Generally, the airport has to be approached with a tough amount of tailwind. This results in a faster approach speed which further increases the braking distance on the already short runway. At the same time, pilots are advised to carry enough spare fuel so that they will be able to go around for another approach or, if the conditions demand it, divert to another airport. However, more fuel, in turn, means more weight and an even longer stopping distance. Here, it’s all about finding the right balance.

Our Air Traffic Control Strategy: A Guide on What to Expect

View Charts for Departure/Arrival

Due to high hills very close up north of the airport, runway 05 is used for landings and runway 23 is used for takeoffs. Runway 05 may also be used to depart small planes. This means that in general both departing and landing planes must back taxi. When the airport is not very busy, some flexibility and originality may be used to avoid making planes wait too long. For this plan, however, we will focus on the most optimal strategy when it’s busy. The strategy is pretty much a loop of commands that you will repeat over and over and requires to operate with separate arrival and departure chunks.

As LIRQ does not offer a Ground frequency, we greatly appreciate it if you could switch from Unicom to Tower before pushing back/taxing, respectively, remain on Tower instead of switching to Unicom so that we can send progressive taxi instructions at all times.

Let’s begin with an arrival chunk of maximal 6 planes coming in to land and a departure chunk of maximal 6 planes at the hold short line waiting to take off. Please note that it is important that the departure chunk is holding short of Foxtrot and Golf due to ground movement reasons (see below). The number 6 is crucial as it is the maximum number of planes you can back taxi at once considering the short bit of taxiway (similar to EGLC) on the other end of the runway can hold 5 planes.

Back to the loop: So now the arrival chunk of maximal 6 aircraft is approaching the runway. All arrivals will receive the instruction to exit the runway to the right followed by a “continue straight ahead” command once the aircraft come closer to the Kilo exit as we expect all pilots to use the Papa exit since this will avoid having planes in opposite directions. The arrivals will wait on the short bit of taxiway until the last plane of the arrival chunk has decelerated and is passed the Kilo exit. Then all aircraft will back taxi to the terminal apron at once (including general aviation aircraft).

A “turn left taxiway” command will be issued in order to assure that every aircraft uses the first exit (Hotel) on the left due to ground movement reasons (see below). When rolling off the runway pilots will, once again, be instructed to turn left onto Mike as continuing on Hotel would cause the aircraft to bump into the departure queue.

As soon as the arrival chunk starts back-taxiing to the terminal apron, the departure chunk holding short of Foxtrot and Golf can start back taxiing towards runway 23. This will clear space on the taxiway as it is very small. When the first aircraft of the departure chunk comes closer to the Hotel runway exit, a “hold position” command will be sent. The departure chunk will wait, until all aircraft of the arrival chunk are clear and off the runway, and then continue back-taxiing. The departure chunk that is back-taxiing will exit the runway via Kilo in order to enter the short taxiway at the end of the runway.

If there are any light aircraft waiting at the general aviation sector on the other side of the runway they will be cleared to back-taxi after the departure chunk and will be instructed to make a 180° turn in the middle of the runway (see chart). This saves a lot of time as the first aircraft that back-taxied and is now lined-up at the end of the runway must still wait until the last aircraft exits the runway at Kilo to reach the short taxiway. For the purposes of IF, ‘light’ aircraft are defined as the C172, SR22, XCub, and Spitfire Mk VIII.

As by that time the departure chunk is already on the runway, the arrival chunk should have enough room to taxi freely to a parking lot. General aviation pilots wishing to taxi to their respective ramp on the other side of the runway may taxi past the gates and to the Foxtrot and Golf hold-short line, where they can request a runway crossing.

During all this period of time, gate hold should be active. This will prevent planes from pushing back and blocking the taxiway. When all aircraft of the arrival chunk have parked, gate hold can be removed and 6 planes may pushback and/or taxi to the Foxtrot and Golf hold-short line, whereby it is important that the planes closer to the hold-short line pushback first. Otherwise, if other planes taxi to the runway, those closer to the runway won’t be able to pushback anymore.

Please do not hesitate in contacting us if any uncertainty occurs.
The procedures defined above have been approved by IFATC Supervisors.

Detailed List of Destinations including Airline, Aircraft, and Flight Time

Certain aircraft changes have been made in order to suit the implemented aircraft and liveries. Please note that the biggest aircraft to operate at LIRQ is an A320/B738. The displayed flight times are real-world suggestions and include taxi time and usual traffic level.

Airline Aircraft Dep. / Arr. Flight Time
KLM E190 Amsterdam (EHAM) 2:15
Vueling A320 Barcelona (LEBL) 1:45
Air Dolomiti¹ E190 Bari (LIBD) 1:15
Vueling A320 Bilbao (LEBB) 2:15
Brussels Airlines A319 Brussels (EBBR) 1:50
Blue Air¹ B737 Bucharest (LROP) 2:05
Air Dolomiti¹ E190 Cagliari (LIEE) 1:15
Vueling A320 Catania (LICC) 1:35
SAS² A319 Copenhagen (EKCH) 2:20
British Airways A320 Edinburgh (EGPH) 2:55
Lufthansa DH8D Frankfurt (EDDF) 1:35
Swiss A319 Geneva (LSGG) 1:15
TAP A319 Lisbon (LPPT) 3:00
British Airways E190 London City (EGLC) 2:10
Vueling A320 London Gatwick (EGKK) 2:20
British Airways A320 London Stansted (EGSS) 2:20
Luxair DH8D Luxemburg (‎ELLX) 1:50
Iberia CRJX Madrid (LEMD) 2:30
British Airways A320 Manchester (‎EGCC) 2:35
Vueling A320 Munich (EDDM) 1:20
Vueling A320 Mykonos (LGMK) 2:25
Vueling A320 Palermo (LICJ) 1:20
Air France A318/19 Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle (LFPG) 1:50
Vueling A320 Paris-Orly (LFPO) 1:45
Vueling A320 Prague (LKPR) 1:40
Alitalia¹ A319 Rome (LIRF) 0:50
Vueling A320 Santorini (LGSR) 2:20
Vueling A320 Tel Aviv (LLBG) 3:30
Albawings¹ B737 Tirana (LATI) 1:30
Austrian DH8D Vienna (LOWW) 1:30
Swiss A319 Zurich (LSZH) 1:15

¹No liveries of the airline’s suitable aircraft available.
²The retro livery is used as well in real-life when flying to Florence.

Which currency has been used in Florence between the 13. and 16. century?

  • Italian lira
  • Florin
  • Sestertius

0 voters


Fun airport! In real life and sim. One way in… one way out!


Lovely thread, as usual 😜😍

I’m really looking forward to controlling there. I’ve now ranked this place as my number 1 favourite airport!

If I could make a suggestion to pilots, you’re probably better off flying into LIRQ (instead of departing) due to the limited taxiway space. I will also be using holds when needed, and I know lots like that🙂.


@Skydriver900 It really is a pleasure! Have you operated at LIRQ as a pilot in real-life?


Yes I have! We frequently visit Italy and Florence is a hot spot for us.


@Skydriver900 Wow, that’s amazing! Do you have any advice for the community when flying in or out of the airport? E.g to set flaps 2 for take-off in an A319 instead of flaps 1.

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I have flown into this airport on a KLM E190 and an Air France A318. It is quiet a landing and departure. If anyone wants to see videos, I can put on here if requested. Landing in one direction and takeoff in the other! I will be visiting!


@AviationReports Thank you very much. I just realized that in the list of destinations I wrote A320 for Air France, but you’re right: Air France flies to LIRQ in an A318/19. Hope to see you there tomorrow!

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That would be awesome to see!

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I will be there in a Vueling a320 from London Gatwick!

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@Charlieab29 Excellent choice! Can’t wait to see you!

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Yes for sure flaps 2, you want that ground roll as minimal as possible. Come out with just enough fuel to get where you’re going(with reserves of course) so your nice and light! Have fun!


I’ll also add that since the runway operations is one in one out, it’s likely I will be needing to vector some planes away from the arriving planes. So a quick turn to the right or left depending on your destination might be needed😉


Usually right then left, almost like a clearing turn.


Landing on the KLM E190 at 36:26
(Hard braking which resulting in bad camera angles but here you go)

Takeoff on a Air France A318 at 9:00
(Notice the steep takeoff and early turn away from opposite runway landing traffic)


That’s really cool! Thanks for sharing


I will be their! Probably will go to LSGG!

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@AviationReports Thank you for sharing the great footage!

@MJP_27 Hope to see you tomorrow!



Photos I took last time coming into LIRQ.