UK Charter Permits: Regulatory Changes Effective Oct. 2016

UK Charter Permits: Regulatory Changes Effective Oct. 2016

Editor’s note

Since this blog was published, there have been several critical regulatory changes impacting charter operations to the UK. For the most current information on UK Charter Operations, please visit:

This is a post by author Jason Hayward. Jason is General Manager for Universal Aviation U.K. – London-Stansted. Jason is an expert on business aircraft operations in the UK and can be contacted at

The process to obtain charter (non-scheduled commercial) permits for the UK has become easier over recent years. For example, there’s no longer the risk of locally-based UK charter operators objecting to charter requests from foreign-registered aircraft–which could potentially delay or cancel your planned charter flight. However, there are important regulatory changes going into effect at the end of October that will impact the permit process for charter operations to the UK.

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

1. Requirement to have TCO certificate

Effective October 31, 2016, operators requesting UK or any European Union (EU) charter permits must have a Third Country Operator (TCO) certificate. Otherwise, your permit application will not be accepted. Since the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is backlogged with these applications, and it currently takes weeks to process TCO certificates, we recommend that operators begin the application process now. Be aware that even if you’ve applied for a TCO certificate, but do not have it by October 31, charter permits will not be processed by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

2. Multiple aircraft on the same permit request

UK CAA is now allowing multiple aircraft registries on the same permit request for a particular flight. The reason for this regulatory change is due
to the many requests UK CAA has received for short notice changes of aircraft and the need to increase flexibility for charter operators. This is of particular benefit to charter operators with multiple aircraft as it’s now possible to swap aircraft, for a particular flight, without having to revise the permit. Note that you may register up to five different aircraft on your permit. If you wish to register more than five aircraft you’ll need to list those additional aircraft on a separate document and include applicable documentation for all aircraft.

3. Swapping aircraft

When swapping out tail numbers your permit remains valid so long as you stay within the 48 hour permit validity and do not change point of departure, destination in the UK, or destination after departure from the UK. Be mindful that any change to 1) point of departure, 2) destination in the UK or destination after departure from the UK, or 3) schedule changes outside the 48 hour validity period, requires a permit revision. If your permit needs to be revised, a minimum of two to three hours lead time is required during normal Monday-Friday 0900-1700 local, CAA operating hours. Note that CAA does not process permit changes outside these office hours, other than for air ambulance or humanitarian flights.

4. Documentation requirements

The UK CAA is making some additional changes that will benefit frequent charter operators traveling to the UK. Operators who submit frequent charter requests for the UK will only need to submit an application (sole use charter form), along with a certificate of worldwide insurance, to obtain a permit. The sole use charter form includes details on the aircraft, crew, passengers and schedule, etc. and must be emailed to CAA simultaneously with your insurance certificate. However, UK CAA reserves the right to request additional supporting documentation. Once they’ve received a permit request they’ll advise, usually within the same business day (during business hours), if additional documentation is needed. We recommend keeping all potentially required documentation on file with your 3rd-party provider just in case it’s requested by CAA.

5. Online permit applications

Over the past couple of years UK CAA has been working on launching an online permit process for charter operators. Date of implementation of this project is unknown at this time, but we’ll advise when more specifics are known. We anticipate that with this system operators or their 3rd-party provider will be able to update and save “sole use charter online forms” and maintain at least some profile information within the online system. At the present time UK CAA does not keep any permit documentation on file, due to EU data protection regulations.

6. Charters without TCOs

When EASA TCO requirements go into effect Oct 31, 2016, UK CAA will request TCO certificate confirmation with any charter request. If you do not have an approved TCO certificate your landing permit will not be processed.

7. More information

For your reference the TCO certificate application can be downloaded from EASA’s website.


The UK CAA is making strides in the permit process which allow better flexibility for charter operators. Such processes include the reduction of furnishing documentation for frequent charters and being able to submit more than one aircraft on the permit request. However, it’s important that all charter operators start the TCO certification process now in order to ensure that they have appropriate paperwork prior to the October 2016 deadline. Any charter operators without the TCO certificate after this date will not be able to obtain permission for travel to the UK or any other EU country.


If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to the UK, contact me at