The Operator’s Guide to the 2015 Paris Air Show – Part 1: Airport and Operational Considerations
This is a post by author Sandrine Jackson. Sandrine is managing director for Universal Aviation France – Paris, which has a recently renovated FBO with hangar at Le Bourget Airport. Sandrine is an expert on business aircraft operations in France and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is part one of a two-part article series on operating considerations for the Paris Air Show.
The 51st International Paris Air Show runs June 15-21 at Le Bourget (LFPB). This biennial event remains the world’s oldest and largest air show. As such, it is a major draw for business aircraft operators from around the world. General Aviation (GA) traffic will be high, so if you are planning on operating into LFPB during this period, below is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Attending the International Paris Air Show
The Paris Air Show is an event for professional trade attendees, as well as the general public. This very popular and iconic show takes place every two years – on odd-numbered years. Trade visitors only are permitted to attend June 15-18 – 0830-1800 local – and no one under age 16 is permitted entry during this period. The show is open to the public June 19-21 – 0830-1800 local – including trade visitors. Show exhibitors have daily access to the Le Bourget site June 15-21, 0630-1900.
2. Operating restrictions
Flight demos take place daily June 15-21, and LFPB’s runway closes to other operations during this period. Airport closure times have been issued in the French Supplemental Aeronautical Information Publication (SUP AIP). In the SUP AIP, there are detailed procedures regarding LFPB operating times, curfews, and no-fly zones. Note that all operators to LFPB, from June 10 or 15 onward, require accreditation by airport authorities. Note that authorities are working to finalize the date when accreditation will be required. Completing the accreditation process may take between one and two weeks and involves submission of operator information, pilot licenses, and aircraft documentation.
Due to recent Paris-area security concerns, we anticipate authorities will be very strict in terms of attendee accreditation. Any unannounced operations, or missing/incorrect documentation, will be scrutinized.
Be mindful that the day following the end of the show will be particularly congested with aircraft movements. For operations departing prior to June 22, crew should arrive at least two hours prior to departure. However, for departures on June 22, it will be best to arrange fuel uplifts the day prior and to be at the airport three hours ahead of scheduled departure.
3. Aircraft parking issues
For missions to LFPB during the Paris Airshow period, it’s best to make parking requests as soon as your schedule is known. All GA parking areas on the field are controlled by resident fixed-base operators (FBOs). While parking does not generally run out during Paris Air Show periods, we expect parking to be particularly limited between noon on June 18 through the 21st. If you plan to drop off/pick up and reposition during the Paris Air Show, this should not be an issue other than during runway closure times.
4. Hotel and transport considerations
Preferred hotel accommodations tend to sell out quickly for this event period, and room prices may be double the normal rates. If you choose to stay in central Paris, be aware that traffic congestion will be significant. Between 0600-1000 and 1600-2000 local, it may take two hours or more to travel between LFPB and the city center. We suggest that crew consider staying close to Charles de Gaulle (LFPG), which is close to LFPB, where good 4-star international chain hotels are abundant – to avoid severe congestion between LFPB and central Paris. Local ground transport options to consider include prepaid transport (car with driver), public taxis, and rental cars.
5. LFPB operating information
LFPB is a 24/7 Airport of Entry (AOE) with full services, multiple ground handlers, and plenty of parking. While arrivals are permitted 24/7, there’s a daily departure curfew 2200-0600 local for all but emergency flights. No Stage 2 operations are permitted at LFPB, with the exception of any exemptions from airport authorities provided to aircraft participating in the Paris Air Show. Special arrangements are needed for such requests. While aircraft parking often remains available throughout the Paris Air Show period, there will be no space for very large or wide-body equipment over a 42-meter wingspan. If you’re operating an Airbus ACJ, Boeing BBJ, or larger-sized aircraft, it’s important to confirm overnight parking options in advance.
6. Handling and support services
Full aircraft services, and credit with prior arrangement, are available at LFPB. Limited hanger options are possible for transient GA, and a wide range of ground support equipment is on hand at LFPB. If you’re operating an unusual or uncommon aircraft type, it’s best to bring your own tow bar. In-flight catering is available with 24 hours’ notice for straightforward catering requests. Allow at least 48 hours’ lead time for more complex or very specific catering orders. Fuel uplift services are efficient and prompt at this location. If you plan to depart LFPB right after the show ends, it’s best to consider fueling the day prior to departure.
7. Alternate parking
While handlers at LFPB anticipate aircraft parking to remain available, there’s a chance it will fill up. The closest alternate is Pontoise (LFPT), an AOE with a 5,541-foot runway located 18 nautical miles from LFPB. LFPT has no slot requirements and offers full aircraft support services with credit available. Normal operating hours at LFPT are 0800-2000 local, and airport overtime may be possible on request. Also, airport authorities may extend the operating hours during the LFPB Air Show, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet. Be mindful that LFPG and Orly (LFPO) normally do not permit GA overnight parking. But, if you’re operating a wide-body aircraft, particularly if you have diplomatic status, LFPG or LFPO may be possible alternates to consider.
While LFPB is an attractive and welcoming airport for GA, there will be additional issues and restrictions to consider during the International Paris Air Show. Daily runway closures will restrict operating flexibility. Heightened security, in and around LFPB and the venue, may somewhat impact the arrival/departure process. Be prepared for general congestion on the ground, especially between LFPB and central Paris.
In the next article we’ll discuss permits, customs, immigration, and documentation for travel to the Paris Air Show.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to France, contact me at email@example.com.