UPDATE: Regulatory Changes for UK Charter Permits

UPDATE: Regulatory Changes for UK Charter Permits

Editor’s note

Since this blog was published, there have been several critical regulatory changes impacting charter opreations to the UK. For the most current information on UK Charter Operations, please visit: http://www.universalweather.com/blog/2018/08/uk-charter-permits-regulatory-compliance

This is a post by author Jason Hayward. Jason is general manager for Universal Aviation U.K. – London-Stansted. Jason is an expert on business aircraft operations in the U.K. and can be contacted at jasonhayward@univ-wea.com.

Many regulatory changes are on the cusp of going into effect regarding charter (non-scheduled commercial) operations to the UK in April. For the most part, these are all very positive changes and will help remove some of the uncertainty and delay potential that had formerly existed in terms of processing charter permit requests.

The following is an overview of what you need to know:

1. UK landing permit requirements

While landing permits are not needed for private non-revenue flights, they are required for all non-European Union (EU) charter flights to/from the UK.

2. Requesting landing permits

Currently, all charter landing permits are processed by the Department for Transport (DFT). The DFT is responsible for all modes of transport within the UK – including road, marine, and aviation. Official lead time for a UK charter permit is five business days. Minimum lead time is 48 hours prior to a trip taking place. DFT operating hours are Monday-Friday, 0900-1700 local, and there has been an "out-of-hours" desk to process permit requests received at least 48 hours prior to operation. However, as of March 1, 2014, the "out-of-hours" desk is no longer available. The DFT will only operate Monday-Friday, 0900-1700 local, and overtime will no longer be available. As of March 1, the only exceptions for processing short-notice requests may be for emergencies, air ambulances, humanitarian aid, and possibly aircraft with technical issues. No other types of permit requests will be processed after hours or on short notice.

3. "Objections process" requirements to be eliminated

As of March 1, General Aviation (GA) charter flights to/from the UK are exempt from the current "objections process" requirement. This regulation required operators to provide trip details to a group of UK-based charter operators who in turn could object the flight when cabotage involved 4th, 5th, 6th, or 7th freedoms. Any objection could lead to a denial of the charter permit. This regulatory change removes much of the uncertainty and potential for permit processing delays that had previously existed.

4. Authorities reserve the right to question certain charter flights

It is expected that no charter flights will be denied permits due to cabotage related to International Civil Aviation Organization Chicago Convention Freedoms of the Air rights; however, authorities do reserve the right to question certain flights. In place of the former objections process, the DFT will work in partnership with the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to put in place an improved process to provide UK airlines and charter operators with greater visibility in terms of foreign (non-EU) commercial operations within the UK market. This should strengthen ability of the UK to provide improved fair market access for UK commercial operators by way of bilateral negotiation with other countries. A new website, still a work in progress by DFT and CAA, will go into operation to provide this information at some point.

5. CAA to take over processing of charter permits

Starting April 6, 2014, the responsibility of processing charter permits will be moved from DFT to CAA. Note that the CAA will now charge a fee to process charter permits. While the amount of this fee has not yet been defined, it’s estimated to be around 150 USD.

6. New CAA landing permit process

CAA currently processes overflight and landing permits for experimental aircraft, aircraft with temporary airworthiness certificates, aircraft carrying dangerous goods, etc. When CAA takes over processing charter permits beginning April 6, the application process will likely be via a web portal where required documentation can be uploaded along with the permit application. When this portal is up and running, any operator, or service provider, will have the ability to access the site. However, following up on permit requests will require direct contact with CAA.

7. CAA hours and considerations

CAA operating hours are Monday-Friday, 0900-1700 local, and no overtime is available. While CAA will not have an objection process regarding charter permit requests, authorities are working on a website with DFT to provide information on non-EU-registered charter/commercial flights.

8. New permit requirements from CAA

It is unclear, at this time, if normal permit lead times will be changed when CAA takes over the charter permit process. Permit documentation requirements are also undefined at this point. To view current charter permit documentation requirements, see the UK government website. We anticipate that CAA will provide updates on charter permit requirements, lead times, etc. some time in March. It’s expected that short-notice permits will still only be available for emergencies, air ambulances, humanitarian aid, and possibly for aircraft with technical issues.

9. Submitting permit requests during the transition

All charter permit requests submitted through April 4, 2014, should be sent to the DFT. After this date, all new permit requests should be forwarded to CAA. Our experience has been that CAA is very efficient and streamlined when it comes to processing permit requests.

Closing Thoughts

We expect the above regulatory changes to be very positive for non-EU registered GA charter operators. A particular change to note is the fact that the charter permit "objection process" will no longer be a factor in issuance of charter permits. While final details on permit processes and requirements are not completely defined yet, it’s important for operators to be aware of the changes that will soon take place as a result of these regulatory transitions.


If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to the UK, contact me at jasonhayward@universalaviation.aero.