This year’s Japan Grand Prix will be held 5-7 October at the Suzuka circuit in Mie prefecture about 50 km southwest of Nagoya. There are three primary airport options available for business jet operators who need to fly in for the event. As always, the best alternatives in terms of aircraft parking and hotel accommodations will be available to those who book as early as possible. Here are some tips to help plan a flight to Japan for this event:
1. Three nearby airports are available
Recommended options for Japan Grand Prix include Nagoya (RJGG), a one-hour drive from the Suzuka circuit; Komaki (RJNA), a 1.5-hour drive; and Osaka (RJBB), a 2.5-hour drive. Alternatively, Grand Prix attendees may wish to charter a helicopter to avoid heavy surface traffic expected around the circuit area. Helicopter transfers from RJGG, RJNA, and RJBB to Suzuka take 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and 60 minutes, respectively. Aircraft parking for all three recommended airports should be requested as soon as a firm schedule is known due to increased traffic anticipated during the Japanese Grand Prix period.
2. Nagoya airport offers flexible airport slots and sufficient aircraft parking spots
For many business aircraft operators, RJGG is the preferred airport due to proximity to the race and other factors. RJGG is an Airport of Entry (AOE) and a 24-hour airport for Stage 3 and above aircraft. This airport does have many scheduled commercial flights operating, but airport slots and aircraft parking can still typically be obtained. In most cases, you will be able to arrive and depart RJGG anytime you want; however, according to regulation, airport slots must be requested for all arrival and departures. Any approved airport slots have a deviation of -/+ 30 minutes. There is a business jet hangar available at this airport, but prior arrangements are needed. Licensed professional aviation maintenance technicians are always stationed, and they deal with emergency maintenance. All ground handling services can be arranged via credit.
3. Komaki (Nagoya) is an Airport of Entry only on request
RJNA is an AOE only upon request and operates 0700-2200 local with no overtime permitted. It’s recommended that international arrivals be scheduled between 0800-2100 local and departures be scheduled between 0800-2130 local due to customs operating times. RJNA is the old Nagoya airport and is primarily dedicated to general aviation and regional aircraft. Ground handling services can be arranged via credit. If you’re operating a larger aircraft – Boeing B737 or Airbus A318 – it’s better to use RJGG due to lack of ground support equipment (GSE) at RJNA.
Three working days’ advance notice is needed to make RJNA an AOE. All customs clearances are handled by customs, immigration, and quarantine officers in the general aviation terminal, which is used exclusively by business aviation. Prior Permission Required (PPR) is needed for all arrivals and departures with the following lead times:
- For all arrivals for pleasure or tech stops, PPR must be requested a minimum of 10 working days before flight operation
- For all arrivals for business, PPR must be requested a minimum of 24 hours before flight operation.
- For all charter (non-scheduled commercial) aircraft arrivals, a PPR must be requested a minimum of 24 hours before flight operation.
4. Osaka offers good aircraft parking availability
RJBB is an AOE and a 24-hour option for Stage 3 and above aircraft. This airport has 40 airport slots available per hour, and slots are required for all arrivals and departures. Airport slot deviation is -/+ 30 minutes. Airport slots in Japan are published on the 15th of the prior month. If a firm schedule is known, it’s best to request airport slots the month prior. There’s higher availability when the airport slots are first released on the 15th of the prior month. All ground handling services and jet fuel can be arranged on credit at RJBB.
5. Landing permits are required for charter flights
For charter flights, a landing permit is required for all landings except tech stops or crew changes with no passengers embarking or disembarking the aircraft. Landing permits are also necessary for private (non-revenue) flights if the aircraft is experimental, if it’s a non-ICAO- member aircraft, or if the aircraft is making domestic flights. Lead time for experimental and non-ICAO member aircraft permits is ten working days. Landing permits for domestic private non-revenue flights requires three working days and a minimum of 24 hours before operation, if it’s urgent . For charter flights, lead time is 10 working days in the case of tourism flights and three working days for business flights. For urgent short-notice charter requests, contact Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) at least one business day prior. Approval of short-notice permit requests are at JCAB’s discretion.
6. Hotel and local transport arrangements should be planned as early as possible
Many good hotel options are available in the Nagoya and Osaka area, including popular large chain hotels. It’s recommended that you try to book 4- or 5-star hotels as early as possible due to high demand over the Japan Grand Prix period. You’ll also need to make local transport arrangements when visiting the circuit, and it’s important to book early due to increased local demand. Rental vehicles are available at all three airports but should be coordinated in advance. It’s recommended, however, that you avoid rental vehicles if you’re not familiar with the area due to traffic issues and possible road closures during the event period. Prepaid local transport (car with driver) is the preferred option for many business aircraft operators. For those contemplating public transport, there’s a special train named the Suzuka F1 running between Nagoya station and the Suzuka Ino station that takes about 40 minutes. If you decide to use the train, please also consider a 10-15 minute walk from the train station to the circuit.
7. Aircraft noise restrictions are in effect in Japan
Due to Stage 3 noise restrictions, all aircraft with Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW) over 34 tons must meet one of the following to be able to operate to Japan:
- Original airworthiness certificate issued within the past 25 years
- Engine bypass ratio over 2
- Not a narrow-bodied aircraft
Turbojet aircraft with MTOW over 34 tons not meeting Stage 3 noise levels are banned in Japan. You may, however, operate a Stage 2 aircraft to Japan if it is under 34 tons MTOW. All aircraft operating to Japan must provide a copy of their noise certificate on arrival.
8. Agricultural and prohibited item restrictions
Check the list of restricted items prior to operating to Japan. Specific food items (plants and meat products) are not permitted to be brought into Japan. Catering may be left onboard your aircraft or stored at a catering facility with prior arrangement.
9. Additional information is available online
Information regarding the circuit diagram, date and timetable, ticket purchases, and more can be found on the Formula1 website.
Work with your 3rd-party provider as early as possible in order to secure preferred airport slots, aircraft parking, hotel accommodations, and ground transportation during the Japan Grand Prix period. Short-notice operations to this popular F1 racing event can always be accommodated, but operators may have to be more flexible in terms of airport and hotel options. While RJGG is the preferred airport for this race event for many operators, RJNA and RJBB also provide effective full-service alternatives. Charter, and in some cases, private non-revenue operators need to be mindful of permit documentation and lead time requirements.
About Greg Linton
Greg Linton, Team Lead, ELATE Team, is known as a solutions-oriented problem solver. He’s also known as an expert on operations around the globe, particularly to Europe, Africa and China. Since joining Universal in 2000, Greg has facilitated more than 9,100 trip legs. He has represented Universal at numerous industry tradeshows and conventions including the European Business Aviation Association Conference & Exhibition and the National Business Aviation Association Conference. Greg has also been interviewed for and contributed articles to many industry publications. Prior to joining Universal, Greg served as an aircraft maintenance administration supervisor in the United States Marine Corps. Greg holds a bachelor’s degree in aviation management. He can be reached at email@example.com.
About Hiroshi Higashiyama
Hiroshi “Higashi” Higashiyama, representative director of Universal Aviation Japan – Tokyo, has over 17 years of experience in the aviation industry in ground support and operations and is an expert on operating to Japan. Higashi’s expertise has earned him numerous invitations to speak both domestically and internationally at major industry events and conferences such as the National Business Aviation Association Conference. Higashi, who is based in Tokyo, along with the staff of Universal Aviation Japan – Tokyo, provided around-the-clock services for business aviation clients and humanitarian flights operating into Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011. He is also a member of the Japanese Business Aviation Association and works closely with local government officials to help improve business aviation infrastructure, processes, and procedures throughout Japan.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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