Caution Wake Turbulence: New Rules for the EU

By Mark Zee


What Wake Turbulence Category is a B757? That long favoured question by Dispatch Trainers and ATC Instructors will become a thing of the past under new rules slowly being introduced in Europe, where the current four (Light, Medium, Heavy, Super) will become six. The first place you will see this happening is at LFPG/Paris Charles de Gaulle and LFPB/Paris Le Bourget, from 22 MAR 2016.

Those six new categories are Light, Medium (with Lower and Upper), and Heavy (with Lower, Upper and Super). The rules are part of the RECAT-EU project, with the intention of squeezing more traffic into busy European Airports by applying more precise turbulence separation rules.

The separation minima are determined specific to each Aircraft Pair. For example, at the moment, an A330 following a B777 (Heavy behind heavy) requires 4 miles in trail. With the new rules, that is reduced to 3nm. An A320 can now follow 4 miles behind a B777, instead of the current 5nm.

There are no Flight Planning Changes (continue to use /L,M,H,J for the ICAO Category). For crews, you’ll notice the smaller separation, but there are no changes to callsigns or pilot obligations – for now.



Sample-Aircraft-Categories-RECAT EU



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Mark Zee

Mark Zee

Founder of OPSGROUP, and a former airline pilot, ATCO and flight dispatcher. Based in Christchurch, New Zealand. Email me at

One Comment

  • ignacio says:

    Hi, I fly in Europe and I am just learning about this. The main implication is at departure. I would normally tell the ATC I need 4 mins if I depart on my 320 from intermediate part of the runway after a full length 380. The issue is that I cant find a list of airports where this is implemented to know I might get sorter TO intervals. I it only paris for now? thanks

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