This is a post by author Jimmy Young. Jimmy serves as country manager for Universal Aviation China, which has aircraft ground handling facilities in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. Jimmy is an expert on business aircraft operations in China and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As of May 1, 2015, new parking restrictions went into effect at Beijing (ZBAA). These changes will impact many General Aviation (GA) operations to the Beijing area. If you have a need to stay in Beijing more than 24 hours, it’s recommended that alternate parking destinations be considered.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Aircraft parking time has been reduced
Maximum time allowed for foreign and based GA parking at ZBAA has been reduced from 48 to 24 hours as of May 1, 2015. Parking extensions will not be available beyond this 24-hour limit. This change was implemented by airport authorities, and it’s expected to be permanent. Note that 24-hour limitations apply only to GA.
2. Parking extension
Parking extension, beyond the 24-hour limit, is at the discretion of airport authorities. Normally, approval of a parking extension is only possible for qualified diplomatic flights. If, however, you’re able to obtain hangar space – and there’s very little of it available for transient GA operations – you may be able to remain beyond the 24-hour limit at ZBAA.
3. Repercussions for exceeding maximum time on the ground
Airport authorities track all aircraft at ZBAA and notify ground handlers, via a weekly report, of aircraft that have exceeded parking limitations. Although authorities have not yet determined how overstaying aircraft will be penalized, it’s likely that they may be put on a type of "black list." This could mean either that you won’t be able to obtain aircraft services at ZBAA or that you may not be permitted to operate to this location again. Also, future landing permits could be denied for aircraft that have overstayed the 24-hour limit. It’s also likely that your 3rd-party provider and/or ground handler may be penalized, based on an assumption that these entities may have known the aircraft would exceed the parking originally confirmed.
4. Recommended airport alternate
If you need to keep your aircraft in the Beijing area for more than 24 hours, the preferred alternate is Tianjin (ZBTJ). Up to this point, ZBTJ has been able to accept all GA overflow parking from ZBAA. It’s an Airport of Entry (AOE), no airport slots are required, and there’s a high-speed train service that will take you to central Beijing in about 30 minutes. As there are no peak-hour operating restrictions at ZBTJ, you’ll have better operating flexibility compared to ZBAA.
Note that ZBTJ has no Fixed-Base Operator (FBO) or general aviation terminal, and passengers/crew members clear Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) in the main terminal. To expedite CIQ clearance at ZBTJ, you may request VIP clearance, via a VIP lounge, and a fee is associated with this service. Alternatively, your ground handler may request passenger/crew clearance via a dedicated clearance lane, such as a flight crew clearance lane. Be aware that VIP clearance options at ZBTJ are not available 24 hours. So, if you’re arriving/departing during late night hours, your handler will need to request CIQ overtime, and charges apply. CIQ clearance at ZBTJ is not needed for any domestic repositioning flight arrivals.
5. Additional alternates
There are two other alternates that may be considered for operations to the Beijing area: Shijiazhuang (ZBSJ) and Hohhot (ZBHH). These airports, however, are some distance from Beijing. While central Beijing can be reached from ZBTJ by high-speed train in about 30 minutes, ZBSJ is 300 km from ZBAA, and about a three-hour drive. ZBHH is about 500 km away and a six- to seven-hour drive. Both are AOEs open to foreign aircraft. Standard ground services – including lav/water/fuel/in-flight catering support – are available at these locations. Note that CIQ clearance is generally available 0830-2030 local at both airports, but CIQ overtime may be possible on request.
6. ZBTJ services/support
Full fuel and aircraft support services are available at ZBTJ, and all services can be provided on credit with advance arrangement. There’s a high-speed train service to take you to central Beijing in about 30 minutes. Drive time to Beijing by taxi or prepaid transport (car with driver) takes about two hours and 30 minutes, depending on traffic.
7. Duty day considerations
If you’re arriving at ZBAA after a long intercontinental flight, there are issues to be mindful of that may impact crew duty day limitations. ZBAA has a mandate that GA aircraft may not make more than one movement within the daily peak-hour period of 0800-2200 local. For example, if you land at ZBAA at 1300 local, the earliest you’ll be able to depart, for reposition to ZBTJ, will be 2200 local.
8. Special event restrictions at ZBAA
From time to time, when special and/or political events are held in the Beijing area, ZBAA denies access to GA aircraft not officially involved in the event. As most aircraft divert to ZBTJ in such cases, this may cause added congestion and parking limitations at the alternate. Currently, two to three such events effectively close ZBAA to GA access each year. This, however, may become a more frequent occurrence in future.
9. New restrictions on larger aircraft
Overnight parking will no longer be permitted at ZBAA for "C" or larger type GA aircraft, including Airbus ACJs and Boeing BBJs. If, however, you’re picking up/dropping off passengers with a larger business jet, you may apply for airport authority approval. If your request is approved, you’ll be given temporary parking permission. Note that "C" type and larger equipment are not permitted to arrive at ZBAA 2200-0600 local due to parking stand shortages caused by scheduled commercial aircraft on the airfield.
10. Classification of aircraft types
The International Civil Aviation Organization classifies all aircraft into five types – ranging from type "A" to type "E." These are based on the specification of airspeed (Vat) while the aircraft is on approach to the runway:
11. Drop-and-go options
Most drop-and-go parking spots at ZBAA are positioned close to the FBO although some are a little farther away, as designated by airport authorities. While ground services can be obtained at some of these parking spots, others are strictly reserved for embarking/disembarking with ground services not available. Should you require fuel uplift, in-flight catering, or aircraft services during a quick turn/drop-and-go, it’s important to set this up with your ground handler in advance. Be mindful, also, that some of these parking stands accommodate power in/power out while others require towing. Parking stand numbers will not be known until a few hours prior to your arrival, and air traffic control will direct you to the assigned parking spot.
If you have a trip to ZBAA, it’s best to begin planning as far in advance as possible and to be aware of potential penalties applied to both operators and service providers. Note that, even if your landing indicates a period of more than 24 hours on the ground, this does not override new parking restrictions at ZBAA. Additionally, parking for "C" type aircraft is restricted further, so alternate arrangements will need to be made.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to China, contact Christine Vamvakas email@example.com.
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