The biennial Dubai Airshow takes place November 8-12 this year at Dubai World Central (OMDW). With an anticipated 65,000 trade visitors and 160 aircraft on static display, including 40 business aircraft, it’s important that bizav operators planning to attend begin trip planning now. As obtaining preferred aircraft parking and hotel accommodations may be challenging during this period, it’s recommended that operators begin confirming arrangements as soon as schedule is known.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Primary airports
As the Dubai Airshow will be held at OMDW, this will be the primary airport for most operators to consider. If they choose to stay closer to downtown, Dubai International (OMDB) may be the preference for some operators. OMDW is about a 35-minute drive from central Dubai while drive time from OMDB is about 15 minutes. OMDW has a user-friendly online airport slot program, and parking at this location, other than for last-minute operations, should not be problematic. Be aware that airports slots and parking confirmations will likely be more challenging for OMDB due to the traffic this airport experiences throughout the year.
2. OMDW operating curfews
During the Dubai Airshow period, there will be temporary operating curfews and runway/taxiway closures for flying display purposes. These curfews are only expected to impact operations between 1400 and 1700 local, and closures will be brief.
3. Landing permits and documentation
Landing permits are needed for all operations to Dubai. Official permit lead time is four business days, assuming required documents are ready and available. Standard aircraft documentation – airworthiness and registration certificates and worldwide insurance – as well as pilot licenses and medicals is required. Minimum liability insurance of 250,000 Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) per passenger is mandated. If the maximum takeoff weight is 2,700 kg or less, the liability coverage minimum is 100,000 SDRs/passenger. Dubai does not require local business contact information or sponsor letters for permit purposes, and no Stage 2 noise restrictions are currently in place. Permits are processed by each emirate, depending on your destination. For travel to Dubai, the emirate of Dubai will handle such requests during normal business hours Sunday-Thursday, 0900-1700 local. Permits have validity of +72 hours, but you may not operate earlier than permit time without a revision. In practice permits are often secured within 24 hours, depending on volume of traffic. Once your permit is approved, you’ll be given a confirmation number, and this must be placed in Remarks section 18 of your International Civil Aviation Organization flight plan.
4. Alternate airports
If you choose not to stay in Dubai, or if parking confirmation does not come through, you can consider Sharjah (OMSJ) and Muscat (OOMS) at 31 and 190 nautical miles from Dubai, respectively. Landing permits are necessary for both OMSJ and OOMS, but airport slots are only needed for OOMS. For operation to OOMS in Oman, crew members may obtain visas on arrival so long as the crew members are in full uniform, are listed on the gen dec, and have crew IDs available. Depending on the nationality of the passengers, visas on arrival may be obtained, but it’s recommended that this be confirmed in advance.
5. Permit revisions
While permit revisions are not normally needed for changes in passengers and/or crew members, you’ll have to update the landing permit if you change destinations, the aircraft, or where you’re flying in from or departing to. In some cases revisions will require resubmission of documentation, and a new permit number may be issued. If you need to leave Dubai early, or change the schedule on short notice, it may be possible to revise permits via your ground handler during hours the Civil Aviation Authority is closed.
6. Airport slots
While Prior Permission Required (PPR) is not needed for operations to Dubai, both OMDW and OMDB require slots. Slots are issued by the airport slot coordinator and may be requested online. Note that airport slots can be applied for separately from landing permits, and slot deviation at both airports is +/- 5 minutes. Once you have a slot approved for OMDW, it’s generally not an issue to revise or update it if you miss the slot time. However, OMDW is less flexible with slot changes due to the high traffic experienced at the field and may fine operators for missing slot times or for any delays.
7. Passports and visas
For operations to Dubai, note that passports must have at least six months’ remaining validity from the date of entry. Visa requirements depend on nationality and should be confirmed in advance with your 3rd-party provider or local ground handler. For example U.S. passengers do not require Dubai visas for stays of less than 30 days. Flight crew members, including flight mechanics and cabin attendants, do not need visas for stays of up to seven days.
8. Parking considerations
OMDW has a large General Aviation (GA) parking area, and this accommodates any size of aircraft. Normal procedure is to power into a parking position. As nose-out parking is not permitted at OMDW, you’ll need a push-back on departure, so it’s best to bring a tow bar or confirm tow bar availability in advance. Parking at OMDW will be at a premium during the Airshow period, so it’s important to submit parking requests as early as possible. Be aware that GA parking is often somewhat challenging at OMDB, and this will be particularly true during the Airshow period as OMDW parking ramps fill up.
9. CIQ clearance
Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) clearance at both OMDW and OMDB is available within fixed-base operators 24/7. This process generally takes no more than 10 minutes. Note that clearance onboard aircraft is not an option other than for diplomatic flights. No CIQ clearance is needed for aircraft stopping in Dubai for tech stops.
10. Fuel uplift
Fuel is available 24/7 at both OMDW and OMDB by either fuel truck or hydrant. It’s recommended to carry a fuel release for uplifts in Dubai and to forward a copy of this to your handler in advance. While most major aviation and consumer credit cards are accepted for fuel payment, it’s always best to confirm credit and acceptability of any particular card prior to day of operation. While fuel delivery delays are uncommon at OMDW, they occur from time to time at OMDB.
11. Hotels and local transport
Dubai has a wide selection of 4-, 5- and 6-star crew accommodation options, including international chain hotels located close to OMDW. Expect room prices to be elevated during the Airshow period – $300 to $500 USD/night – with extended cancellation policies. Organized public transport will be available between the Airshow and the city center in addition to prepaid transport (car with driver) and public taxi options.
12. Security considerations
In terms of security risks, Dubai is a very low-threat environment with no reports of serious crime. This location has a threat level of 2 out of 5, a lower threat level than those of the U.S. and most of Europe. It’s not recommended to put guards on your aircraft at either OMDW or OMDB.
13. Additional information
More information can be found on the 2015 Dubai Airshow website.
We expect parking at OMDB to start to fill up once OMDW assigns most of its available GA parking. Operators not attending the Airshow but planning to travel to Dubai during the November 8-12 period should be mindful of hotel and parking limitations as well as temporary taxi and runway closures during times of flying displays. Also, ensure that appropriate permits and necessary visas are obtained in advance.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Dubai, contact me at email@example.com.
About Paul Kistler
Senior Mission Advisor Paul Kistler has been in the aviation industry for more than 13 years. He has wide-ranging expertise in advising and supporting clients on operations to all corners of the world. Paul also enjoys the process of putting together seamless operations to Latin America, Russia, Asia and Africa. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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