For business aircraft operators, planning reliable tech stops is a key component in orchestrating successful international movements. Some regions of the world have multiple good tech stops available, while, in other areas, you’ll have limited options. On key routes – such as North America to Asia or Africa, and Europe to Africa, South America or the Far East – you’ll have a variety of quick turn options. Still, it’s always best to select tech stops with the most reliable services, most flexible operating conditions and least potential for issues.
1. Novosibirsk is a popular tech stop when flying between Europe and Asia
Novosibirsk, Russia (UNNT) is a reliable tech stop with good English-speaking services and fairly flexible operating conditions. UNNT is well located mid-way between Western Europe and Beijing, China (ZBAA), and you’ll normally accomplish quick turns in 30-40 minutes. A Russian landing permit is needed, but crew or passenger visas are not required for a single tech stop in Russia (if the airport has a transit area) when no crew or passengers embark or disembark the aircraft. Be aware that the official requirement for a Russian landing permit is five working days, but the Russian Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) might approve it within the permit lead time at their discretion. Also, keep in mind that UNNT closes to all traffic two hours each day (1400-1600 local) as indicated by notices to airmen (NOTAM).
2. Fairbanks is popular for a westbound tech stop between North America and Asia
Fairbanks, Alaska (PAFA) is close to the great circle between the mid- and western U.S. and eastern Asia and offers quick turns. Customs is available 0800-1700 local daily, but 24-hour customs clearance is available upon request and located in the Alaska Aerofuel fixed base operator (FBO) or international terminal. You can usually turn an aircraft, including customs and fuel uplift, in under an hour. If you plan to arrive late at night, it’s best to give notice the preceding day – or by Friday, if you’re arriving Saturday or Sunday night. Crew and passengers must clear U.S. customs for first entry into the U.S., and visas are required for non-U.S. nationals. You may be required to de-plane luggage at the discretion of the customs officer on duty. Don’t open the aircraft door until given the go-ahead by customs. Otherwise, you may not enjoy the benefit of a quick turn, because instructions weren’t followed, and new protocols have to be set in place, as the aircraft is now considered compromised.
3. Shannon is a great tech stop between the Middle East and North America, and offers preclearance
There are good tech stops in this region. Shannon, Ireland (EINN) is a great stop for quick turns. Services are 24 hours, jet fuel cost is reasonable, and you can do quick turns in 30-40 minutes without pre-clearing U.S. customs. If you choose to take advantage of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Preclearance at EINN, plan on 48-hours’ customs notification. Passengers, crew and all luggage will be taken to the terminal for customs clearance, and all aircraft systems must be shut down. Plan on a turn time of about 1.5 hours to both clear customs and uplift fuel. Keep in mind that your first stop in the U.S., after pre-clearing customs, must offer U.S. Department of Agriculture-authorized international trash removal capability.
4. Sharjah is a recommended tech stop between Southeast Asia and Europe
Sharjah, UAE (OMSJ) is a good tech stop, as it’s close to Dubai, UAE (OMDB), but is not as busy with commercial traffic. Tech stops can be done faster than at OMDB, with full services available 24/7. You’ll need a landing permit with a 96-hour official lead time. However, landing permits may be obtainable within 48 hours, if the UAE CAA approves them. Crew and passengers may require visas, so it’s best to check with your 3rd-party provider in advance. Facilities are new, English-language capabilities are good, and you’re only between 15-30 kilometers from OMDB, depending on which highways are taken, which is advantageous if a crew swap is planned.
5. Sal Island is a popular tech stop between North America and Southern Africa, AND between Europe and Southern South America
Sal Island, Republic of Cape Verde (GVAC) is well located close to great circle routings. Jet fuel availability here is good – often more reliable than at many locations on the African mainland. Official lead time for landing permits is 96 hours. Visas are not normally required for crew or passengers (for up-to-date information on this, check with your ground handler or 3rd-party provider.) Also, you normally won’t need to clear customs, although all the information is given to local authorities. Quick turns within 30-45 minutes are possible 24 hours a day. It’s always best to reconfirm fuel, and quantity, prior to arrival to ensure trucks arrive with sufficient fuel onboard.
On major international long-haul routings, many good tech stop options are available. For the quickest turn, best service and maximum operating flexibility, always choose tech stops with confirmed jet fuel and credit availability, flight permit and airport slot requirements that are not onerous and locations with nearby tech stop alternates, just in case of a diversion.
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Category : Best Practice
About Greg Linton
Greg Linton, Manager of the Echo and Large Aircraft 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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