Business Aircraft Ops to India: Flight Planning
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating in Aruba and continues from our last article: “Business Aircraft Ops to India: Military Airports, Special Requirements & Airport Slots.“
Flight planning requirements for India depend on where you’re flying to and whether your destination is a civilian or military airfield. While India has become a friendlier operating environment for business aviation, over recent years it still strictly adheres to its rules, procedures, and unique requirements. It’s always best to work closely with your 3rd-party provider and ground handler, well prior to day of operation, to ensure nothing has been missed.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. ATC procedures
For arrivals to India, Air Traffic Control (ATC) provides an Air Defense Clearance (ADC) confirmation number, allowing you to proceed to your destination once you enter the Indian flight information region (FIR). When departing India it’s important to ensure that a manually filled out flight plan is provided to ATC. This is in addition to any flight plan filed via AFTN. While the manual flight plan may be filled out by your ground handler, based on the flight plan provided by the crew, the captain must personally sign it. Once your flight plan is given to ATC two confirmation numbers are provided – the ADC number and a Flight Information Center (FIC) number. It’s only after these two confirmations are received that a flight plan is cleared. Be mindful that the pilot in command (PIC) may be asked to reconfirm both ADCs and FICs prior to obtaining clearance.
2. ADC and FIC validity
ADC is a security clearance number that informs authorities your aircraft is cleared to land. This has validity of plus one hour. FIC is the confirmation that your flight plan has been filed, that your flight plan is authentic, and that you’re approved to depart. An FIC is generally valid for as long as your flight plan, usually one hour. If you revise departure time the FIC number remains the same. If, however, your flight plan has expired you’ll need to call ATC, or physically go to ATC (recommended), to file a new flight plan. In this case the FIC confirmation number will likely change. Your ADC, however, may or may not be revised as this is at discretion of the agent on duty at ATC.
3. Popular military airports for GA
Frequently used military airports in India include Agra (VIAG), Goa (VOGO), Chandigarh (VICG), Srinagar (VISR) and Vishakhapatnam (VOVZ). To use these facilities you will, in addition to your landing permit, require landing authority from the military. Note that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will not issue a landing permit until any required military landing permit is issued. Lead time for military permits is typically 15-20 days, and the approved permit confirmation must be placed in Remarks section 18 of your ICAO flight plan.
4. Military airport approach plates
Note that approach plates for military and joint use civilian/military airports are classified as confidential by Indian military intelligence. These approach plates are no longer published in the India aeronautical information publication (AIP) and are not currently publicly available. While your ground handler or 3rd-party provider may not be able to provide copies of these documents to you, crews will be given ‘enhanced air traffic assistance’ from ATC while on approach to military or joint use airports.
5. Special procedures — VABB
At Mumbai (VABB) there’s a briefing register at ATC where the PIC and ground handler go and physically confirm a flight. Note that this requirement is unique to VABB and not part of the filing process at other airports in India.
6. Additional requirements
For international departures ATC requires specific documentation to be submitted. This includes a gen dec, signed by both the PIC and the ground handler to confirm the flight, as well as an additional document signed by the PIC, ground handler, customs, immigration and security departments. Note that this second document often takes three hours or so to complete, considering all the various entities involved. However, most of this legwork can be managed by your ground handler. Due to all the assorted requirements in place regarding flight plan filing for India, we recommend crews be at the airport at least two hours prior to ETD.
7. Additional reading: Business Aircraft Ops to India – Series Index
Note: Links will be updated as articles are published.
- Part 1 – Airport options
- Part 2 – Airport operations
- Part 3 – Ground handling
- Part 4 – Additional services and operating costs
- Part 5 – Fuel and security
- Part 6 – CIQ
- Part 7 – Permit considerations
- Part 8 – Slots and military operations
- Part 9 – Flight planning
- Part 10 – Weather and additional flight planning information
- Part 11 – Hotel and local area
There are dozens of steps that must be completed prior to departing India, and a misstep in this area – such as not having paid an airport or nav charge – could delay operations. It’s recommended that you communicate with your 3rd-party provider or ground handler to ensure that you obtain the appropriate information for your flight planning requirements.
Later, we’ll discuss weather and additional flight planning requirements for India and their impact on your trip.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to India, contact Christine Vamvakas at firstname.lastname@example.org.