Slide backgroundSlide thumbnail

Samedan Airport – LSZS

General Information

Samedan Airport (IATA: SMV, ICAO: LSZS), also known as Engadin Airport, is Europe’s highest airport (at 1707m or 5600ft). The 1800m long runway lies in a valley and it is surrounded by mountains up to 3000m. Due to the terrain, IFR service is not possible, if the aircraft is not RNAV equipped. To provide traffic information service, a Flight Information Zone (FIZ), Samedan Info, is in service. It extends lengthwise from VFR report point E to point W and its width correlates approximately with the valley. In the FIZ, VFR traffic is handled like on any other VFR field, which means on IVAO Samedan Info can only be provided by Swiss Radar / Zurich Information and only if the controller agrees to do so.

It is also considered one of the most challenging airports in the world because of its difficult topography and winds, and because of the thinness of the air at its altitude. Much of its traffic consists of light to heavy general aviation traffic, including many private-corporate jets, private propeller aircraft, and the fleet of Swiss Jet. One of the biggest planes seen there, more often than not, is the HK Co.’s 737-200 or the A319. The takeoff generally requires the spooling up of engines, with brakes on, to minimize the time on the runway while maximizing as much speed possible. This technique is generally performed by bigger aircraft, with heavier payload.

Coordinates: N 046° 32′ 04″ – E 009° 53′ 02″
Elevation: 5600 ft/1707 m
Radio communication language: English

ATC Positions



Opening restrictions


Minimum Rating (FRA)

Samedan Information



135.325 Mhz

Zurich DELTA



119.225 Mhz



The Handysheet is a document, which contains all necessary information on one single page.


Procedures – NON RNAV

LSZS Departures

Due to the mountains, IFR is not possible below FL140, which means you have to depart the aiport under VFR. If you want to complete the rest of the flight under IFR, file a Z-flightplan. “Z” stands for “VFR changing to IFR”. The airspace over the alps is Class D above FL130 or FL150 (during MIL OFF times) up to FL195. After departing visually you climb and maintain the highest VFR level FL130 (FL150 when MIL OFF, like on weekends) and ask Swiss Radar for the IFR clearance (“IFR-joining”). Swiss Radar will give you the IFR clearance which allows you to climb above FL130. Soon your aircraft will be identified on the radar screen and after that you’re flying IFR as usual.

Please refer to the Training Department for more detailed information about IFR Pickup.

Read the whole official Pilot Briefing here.

LSZS Arrivals


If you want the first part of your flight to be a regular IFR flight, you file a Y-flightplan. “Y” replaces the standard “I” for “IFR” and stands for “IFR changing to VFR”. The IFR clearance you receive at startup is only valid until the last point in the flightplan and not until Samedan airport. A common last intersection for flights from the north would be PELAD. A controller can also approve “direct Samedan” which allows you to set heading to the airport. In both cases, the lowest flightlevel is FL140 due to the Alps.

Decision point and IFR-cancelling

Over PELAD or over Samedan airport at FL140 you have to decide whether you can continue visually to land. Make sure to observe the whole approach path. For a preferred approach to runway 03 should make sure the valley to the southwest of the airport if cloud-free. If the complete approach path from your present position to the airport, including downwind and final leg, allows a visual approach, you can ask Swiss Radar to cancel IFR.

HB-ABC:                    “Swiss Radar, HB-ABC cancel IFR”
Swiss Radar:              “HB-ABC, IFR cancelled, squawk VFR, frequency change approved. Good bye.”
HB-ABC:                    “Frequency change approved, good bye.”

VFR-Part (“final approach”)

Runway 03 is preferred for landing unless the tailwind is too strong. Coming from north it’s useful to turn right for the downwind leg (standard left-hand-pattern) before the airport. From south you overfly the airport and then turn left for the downwind leg. In both cases, the downwind leg is flown at the northern side of the valley direction to “Julier[pass]” (see charts). You can use the lakes “Silvaplanersee” and “Silsersee” as visual references. Still at FL140 or FL130 near the “Maloja[pass]” you turn left for the final leg. You’re in the valley on northeastern heading and are now able to continue your descent from FL140 or FL130 towards the runway. There’s not much distance left, so be sure you have established landing configuration (gear and flaps down) on the downwind leg which you fly levelled at FL140 or FL130.