The biennial Farnborough International Airshow takes place July 11 – 17, hosting over 1500 exhibitors from 40 countries. This will be a busy period and general aviation (GA) operators are advised to confirm aircraft parking and crew accommodation options as early as possible. This event, which has operated continuously since 1948 and occurs on every even numbered year, is one of the world’s great air and trade shows.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Trade and public days
The Farnborough International Airshow is one show in two parts: July 11-15 are trade days, and July 16-17 are public days. While registered trade visitors may attend the event July 11-17 inclusive general public access to the ramp and covered display areas is only over the weekend of July 16-17.
2. Primary airport and closures
Farnborough (EGLF) is where the airshow takes place, and GA parking availability is not expected to be an issue over the airshow period. An airport of entry (AOE), EGLF has operating hours Monday-Friday 0700-2200 local and Saturday-Sunday 0800-2000 local, and overtime is not available. Note that EGLF will close to all traffic during the following air show flight display times:
- July 111200-1530 UTC
- July 12 1245-1615 UTC
- July 131245-1615 UTC
- July 141245-1615 UTC
- July 151200-1630 UTC
- July 161100-1700 UTC
- July 171100-1700 UTC
3. EGLF operating considerations
EGLF, located 40 miles southwest of central London, is the only UK airport dedicated exclusively to GA. Note that this is a Stage 4 airport with no Stage 2 or 3 operations permitted, unless the aircraft is taking part in static or flying displays. All other operators must qualify for Stage 4 noise levels. Stage 3 aircraft meeting Stage 4 numbers, may operate to EGLF after providing a compliant noise certificate.
4. Airport slots and PPRs
While airport slots are not required for EGLF, prior permission required (PPR) is mandatory. PPR confirmations must always be placed in the remarks section of the flight plan. Note that PPR confirmations are needed not only for arrival and departure but also to access the aircraft while on the ground. It’s imperative that this number be provided to anyone associated with your flight — including passengers and crew but also transportation companies, in-flight caterers, baggage vans, etc. For security reasons, PPR numbers are never issued or confirmed by telephone.
5. Aircraft parking and services
We do not anticipate parking availability or length of stay issues for GA operations to EGLF during the Farnborough Airshow period. However, there are access considerations to be mindful of in terms of limited airport operating hours, lack of airport overtime and daily closures for flying displays. Slight delays can be anticipated when runways reopen after flying display closures, as aircraft may be trying to depart/arrive at the same time. Support services, including fuel uplifts and in-flight catering, should always be requested in advance. There may be delays in obtaining services on the final day of the air show as many operators will likely be departing at the same time.
6. CIQ clearance
Customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) at EGLF is cleared within the fixed-base operator (FBO), and it’s a fast and efficient process. It’s recommend that CIQ pre-notification is done a minimum of 24 hours for arrivals from outside the European Union (EU) and four hours for arrivals from within the EU. Pre-notification helps ensure there will be no issues or delays upon arrival and allows airport authorities to confirm that the operation is approved. Onboard pets may be temporarily imported into the UK via EGLF, so long as they have full medical health details, including a pet passport, applicable vaccinations, and evidence of recent tape worm treatment. Note that the only onboard pets allowed entry to the UK are dogs, cats and ferrets. So, if you have an animal onboard that may be a little more exotic it will not be accepted by UK quarantine authorities.
7. Charter landing permits
Landing permits for the UK are only required for charter (non-scheduled commercial) and not required for private non-revenue. It’s best to plan on three to five business days lead time to obtain a UK charter permit, and be aware of required documents must be submitted. For more information on this see our blog titled “UK Charter Permits: Regulatory Changes Effective Oct. 2016.”
Permits are processed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Monday-Friday 0830-1700 local with very limited after hour options over the weekend. While short notice permits may be submitted, obtaining a permit approval or revision over the weekend is likely not possible unless it’s an ambulance flight.
8. Alternate airports
If you’re not able to obtain parking at EGLF, or choose to keep your aircraft in a different part of the London area, alternates include Stansted (EGSS), Luton (EGGW), and Northolt (EGWU). EGWU is a military airfield with several operating limitations, and EGGW has parking issues and higher costs than other area airports. Because of this, the best alternate choice for many operators will likely be EGSS. EGSS is a 24-hour AOE but with noise restrictions in effect 2300-0700 local. So it’s best to confirm in advance that your aircraft meets acceptable night operations noise levels. There are generally no issues with parking at EGSS, and airport slots here are easy to obtain.
9. Hotels and local transport
Hotel availability in the Farnborough area is limited, and we anticipate these accommodations will be sold out during the air show period. The best options for crew accommodations will likely be in the London area. For those staying in London and commuting to the Farnborough show location, expect road travel options to be about two hours. Direct train services to the show site are available from central London to Farnborough Main, Farnborough North, North Camp, and Aldershot stations. Bus shuttles connect these stations with the show entry gates. For rail and bus options to the show site from central London it’s best to plan on one-and-a-half to two hours travel time. More information on train schedules and fares can be found at on the national rail site.
10. UK APD
Be aware that UK Air Passenger Duty (APD) is applicable to every domestic and international departure from the UK. These charges, however, apply only to passengers who board aircraft in the UK and not crew members. You can read our articles covering UK-APD for more information. Depending on who you work with, your 3rd-party provider can facilitate these payments on your behalf.
11. Comply with EU-ETS
Intra-EU flights (flights departing and arriving within the EU) are required to comply with the EU Emission Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) monitoring, reporting, and carbon trading requirements. You can read our series on aviation EU-ETS or visit the EU-ETS Resource Center for more information.
To attend the Farnborough International Airshow as a GA operator we recommend beginning the planning process as early as possible. While aircraft parking availability should not be an issue, crew accommodation, and local transport logistics may present some challenges. It’s important that charter operators allow sufficient time to obtain and/or revise required landing permits.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your trip to the UK, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Mark Hudson
Mark Hudson is an expert on arranging charter flights for business aviation, particularly obtaining difficult permits. An FAA Licensed Dispatcher, Mark currently serves as a Master Mission Advisor on the Universal Charter Management Team. Since joining Universal in 2002, he has facilitated more than 6,000 global trip legs, and specializes in last-minute requests. Mark can be reached at email@example.com.
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