Business Aircraft Ops to Japan: Slots Requirements

> | March 31, 2016 | 0 Comments
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Business Aircraft Ops to Japan: Slots Requirements

This is a post by author Hiroshi Higashiyama. Hiroshi is representative director for Universal Aviation Japan, which has aircraft ground handling facilities in Haneda, Narita, Sapporo, and Osaka. Hiroshi is an expert on business aircraft operations in Japan and can be contacted at hiroshihigashiyama@universalaviation.aero.

This aviation blog post is part of a series on operating to Japan and continues from our last article entitled “Business Aircraft Ops to Japan: Understanding Costs & Fees.

While slots for popular airports in Japan are much easier to obtain today than 10-15 years ago, there are still challenges and operational issues for business aircraft operators which must be considered. It’s best that airport slots be obtained as early as possible so that you can take advantage of preferred options and times.

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

1. Airport slot requirements

Airports slots are required for all operations to Japan. In the case of charter flights, these slots must be obtained before requesting landing permits. Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) only processes charter landing permits once you’ve advised that slots have been obtained. Be aware that JCAB will contact the airport to verify slots are in place for the schedule requested on your landing permit application. While slots at large international airports are typically more difficult to obtain, smaller airports seldom present slot issues. Your ground handler will submit slot requests by phone, not via email, to the slot coordinator. The airport slot coordinator will advise if the requested slot is available or not. If the slot is available the ground handler will send a fax to the slot coordinator to confirm what was reserved over the phone. If the requested slot is not available, the coordinator will provide the closest slot time to your schedule. Once an airport slot is confirmed aircraft parking is also be confirmed. It’s important to ensure that flight plans are filed for the time the slot is approved for otherwise your flight plan will be rejected. As no slot confirmation numbers are provided, there’s nothing to annotate on your flight plan.

2. Slot requests

Airport slots for general aviation (GA) may be requested by the 15th of the month prior to date of operation, in the case of Narita (RJAA), Haneda (RJTT), Chitose (RJCC) and Osaka (RJBB). This restriction exists at these four locations due to 1) high traffic, 2) limited ground handler availability, 3) limited parking, and 4) limited customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) resources. At other airports in Japan slots can be requested at any time.

3. Slot request lead time

While there’s no official lead time guidance in applying for airport slots, 24 hours is generally considered minimum lead time for any slot requests. Note that larger airports often have slot coordinators on duty 24/7 while slot coordinators at smaller airport may only be available during normal daytime hours.

4. Slot challenges

Be aware that for RJTT and RJCC you’ll seldom be able to obtain slots for your requested schedule, due to traffic these airports experience. Although your ground handler will keep trying to obtain the specific requested slot times, your schedule may need to be revised in the event preferred slots do not become available.

5. Slot deviation and validity

Slot deviation depends on the airport but is usually is either -/+ 15 minutes or -/+ 30 minutes. There are some exceptions to this rule, and an example of this is RJAA where the slot deviation is -/+ 60 minutes. If your arrival or departure exceeds a slot tolerance the operator becomes subject to reporting to JCAB’s slot office.

6. Airport slot priority

Scheduled commercial aviation takes first precedence over GA in terms of slot priority. Typically, it’s the left over remaining slots that are open to GA use and often only after the 15th of the preceding month.

7. Slot revisions

If you have a schedule change airport slots must be updated to match the revised schedule. Note that any slot revisions must be done prior to flight. Slot change requests will not be accepted once an aircraft is in flight.

8. No charges for slots, but there are other fees

Note that airports don’t charge for airport slots. However, there are other fees to consider such as landing fees. Landing fees are calculated based on certified maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) and, in some cases, aircraft noise level. While some airports base landing charges entirely on MTOW, others use a formula with both MTOW and noise level. If a landing charge is based on noise level, the operator must submit the aircraft noise certificate or flight manual, in advance. This information will be used to calculate landing costs. Landing charges, therefore, will be different for each aircraft. Charges are assessed by whomever controls the airport – either the local airport authority, a private company, or JCAB – and are usually settled by the ground handler and billed to the operator later.

9. Parking limitations

While some airports do not impose limitations on parking length of stay, others do. At RJTT the max time on the ground is 10 days, and at RJAA you can park for up to 30 days. Fukuoka (RJFF) restricts GA parking to just one night. During winter time RJCC prohibits overnight parking. During periods of large local events, such as cherry blossom season in the spring, parking permission may be difficult to obtain at certain airports.

10. Additional reading: Operating to Japan – Series Index

Note: Links will be updated as articles are published.

Conclusion

Slots are required for travel to any airport in Japan. While there are seldom any issues with obtaining slots for smaller airports, large airfields pose an issue due to airport congestion. Be aware of the requirements in order to obtain stops and ensure that you adhere to the slots that you have for your flight.

Later we will discuss permits for Japan and how it may affect your trip.

Questions?

If you have any questions about this article or operating to Japan, contact me at higashihigashiyama@universalaviation.aero.

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About

Hiroshi “Higashi” Higashiyama, representative director of Universal Aviation Japan – Tokyo, has over 17 years of experience in the aviation industry in ground support and operations and is an expert on operating to Japan. Higashi’s expertise has earned him numerous invitations to speak both domestically and internationally at major industry events and conferences such as the National Business Aviation Association Conference. Higashi, who is based in Tokyo, along with the staff of Universal Aviation Japan – Tokyo, provided around-the-clock services for business aviation clients and humanitarian flights operating into Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011. He is also a member of the Japanese Business Aviation Association and works closely with local government officials to help improve business aviation infrastructure, processes, and procedures throughout Japan.

He can be reached at hiroshihigashiyama@universalaviation.aero.

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