There are eight airports in the immediate London area to handle general aviation (GA) flights, but only two are 24-hour airports – Stansted (EGSS) and Luton (EGGW).While all airports have their own unique operating restrictions, EGSS is particularly user friendly, efficient, and flexible in terms of schedule changes. The focus here is on providing a very smooth experience for passengers and crew in terms of services, express clearance of customs, and accommodation of any necessary schedule revisions.
1. What are top considerations when operating to EGSS?
EGSS is available 24/7 with customs services throughout the day. Stage 2 aircraft may land at any time. However, due to noise restrictions, these operators may not depart between 2330 and 0600 local. Customs clearance is possible either onboard your aircraft, at the fixed base operator (FBO) adjacent to the ramp or by way of ‘remote clearance’ so that you do not physically see a customs officer on arrival. The clearance process is at the discretion of the customs/immigration/quarantine (CIQ) officer on duty. Vehicles (prepaid transportation and taxis) with appropriate documentation are permitted on the ramp to pick up/drop off passengers or crew planeside. While airport slots are required for arrival and departure, they’re easy to obtain and seldom impacted by any peak periods of airline activity. Prior permission required (PPR) isn’t needed for this airport. EGSS is a cost-effective airfield with aircraft parking fees that are not prohibitive and aviation fuel prices among the most reasonable in the London area.
2. How are charter (non-scheduled commercial) operations treated differently than private (non-revenue) flights?
Security screening of all passengers, crew and luggage is required prior to boarding for charter (non-scheduled commercial) flights over 10 metric tons. Otherwise, there’s no difference between processing charter and private non-revenue operations at EGSS. Charter crews are only required to be screened on the day of departure, and enjoy direct access to the ramp and their aircraft by showing crew ID to security at the FBO. Outbound customs clearance is not required for either a charter or private non-revenue operation.
3. What’s the airport slot situation like at EGSS?
Fifty airport slots per hour (takeoff and landing combined) are available at EGSS. Airport slots may be booked and confirmed months in advance or on the day of arrival via an efficient, automated Web portal. Anyone can access this Web portal to observe the slot availability at a number of airports, including EGSS, but only ground handlers and airfield operations are able to request and confirm airport slots online. EGSS airport slots are relatively flexible. Airport slot deviation is -20 minutes/+10 minutes for departures and -20 minutes/+15 minutes for arrival. The airport slot times are for on- and off-block times, not runway time. You’re not required to change or update your departure airport slot if you have an airway slot delay from Eurocontrol Central Flow Management Unit (CFMU) or in event of a technical issue causing delay of up to two hours.
4. How does the remote customs clearance procedure work?
Remote customs clearance allows GA passengers to bypass customs clearance process on arrival and is only possible when UK customs pre-approves an operator’s flight. This remote customs clearance can’t be requested, as the clearance process is determined by the customs officer on duty. European Union (EU) nationals may request remote clearance by phone. Remote clearance authorization for non-EU passengers requires passenger information faxed to customs. Customs will do a background check, stamp the form if remote clearance is approved, and fax it back to the requestor (usually to your ground handler). At this point, clearance has been completed, and there’s no need to interact with customs on arrival. Best practice is to provide notification to customs the evening prior to your arrival, but short notice remote-clearance requests are possible with 4-6 hours’ notice. Once granted, remote clearance is reasonably flexible in terms of passenger additions or deletions, but customs must be notified of any changes prior to arrival.
5. What’s involved in obtaining ramp access at EGSS?
Planeside pickup is a straightforward process at EGSS. Any vehicle – pre-paid transport, a company car or even a taxi – can access the ramp to drop off or pick up passengers planeside. The driver must present appropriate ID, either a passport or a driver’s license with its paper counterpart, to the FBO and a pass will be issued. The vehicle will then be met at the gate and escorted planeside. This sort of service is not possible at Heathrow (EGLL) or Gatwick (EGKK). EGSS has a distinct advantage in that commercial and GA operations are on separate sides of the airfield — scheduled commercial is on the south side and GA is on the north side. Because there are no outbound-customs procedures for international departures, a vehicle may take crew and passengers directly to the aircraft with the exception of charter crew and passengers who must clear security first. In the event passengers wish to obtain value-added tax (VAT) refunds, paperwork should be supplied to the FBO, who’ll process the refund request prior to your departure. Crew who arrived with the business aircraft can access the ramp at any time by simply presenting crew ID to FBO security. Ramp-access passes can also be issued by the FBO with appropriate identification to other personnel, such as a local maintenance technician or in-flight caterer, associated with your flight.
6. Are aviation fuel uplift delays likely?
The aviation fueling process is very efficient at EGSS, and there’s ample availability of fuel trucks. Peak hour airline activity is seldom an issue in terms of prompt and timely GA fueling.
7. What are other advantages of EGSS?
Runways, taxiways, and tarmac are in good condition with no work or closures forecasted throughout 2012. With a 10,000-foot runway, EGSS can accommodate aircraft up to business/VIP, configured up to and including a B747-400. The field is located very close to the freeway (within five minutes) with good access to London. Canary Wharf and the financial district are about 45 minutes’ drive time, while London’s West End (where popular hotels are located) is about a 1 hour 15 minute drive. For operators who need to remain overnight (RON) at EGSS, aviation fuel prices are reasonable, and good hotels are available near the airport.
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Category : Best Practice
About Jason Hayward
Based in London, Jason Hayward, general manager for Universal Aviation U.K. – London, is an expert on ground support and operations into the United Kingdom. He’s been with Universal since 1997 and has more than 17 years’ experience combined in aviation handling and operations. A native of the U.K. and veteran of the Royal Air Force, Jason has been instrumental in helping establish Universal Aviation offices around the globe. Jason is also an expert on coordinating operations and handling for special events and was Universal’s point person for the 2012 Games in London. He’s shared his insight on operations and special events with many industry publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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