Ops Planning for High-Traffic GA Events – Part 2: Contingency Planning
This business aviation blog post continues from our article last week, entitled ”Ops Planning for High-Traffic Events – Part 1: Pre-Planning Tips.“
While there’s almost always a way to set up a short notice general aviation (GA) flight to any major high-traffic event, the best options and the most hassle free experience are available to those who plan early and have Plan B contingency options in place.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Short notice requests and revisions
A short notice request for a location with high-traffic event may not be easy to coordinate due to airport slot and prior permission required (PPR) constraints. In such case you may opt to land at the preferred airport, drop passengers, and reposition. Alternatively, you may need to land at an alternate airport and arrange helicopter, or other transportation, for passengers to reach their ultimate destination. Be aware that making revisions to approved airport slots, PPRs, or parking confirmations may require you to submit a new request. At some locations, however, revisions to approved landing permits, parking, airport slots, or PPRs will not be possible due to high traffic demands.
2. Last minute changes
Be mindful of ramifications of any last minute schedule changes when operating to high-traffic event destinations. You may have to pay overtime fees if your estimated time of arrival is after normal airport or customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) hours. In other cases, permit revisions may be denied, and you will not be able to operate your requested schedule. Meanwhile, you’ll lose access to all services set up at your planned destination. Hotel reservations may be non-refundable, and you may need to travel long distances from the event venue in order to source new accommodations.
3. Notification of restrictions
In most cases airport slots, PPRs and parking restrictions are announced several months in advance of scheduled major events. However, we’ve seen cases where restrictions were not published until just prior to the event. Be mindful, also, that operating restrictions can change even as the event is underway. This was the case, for example, with the recent World Cup in Brazil. Although not common, we’ve seen cases where confirmed airport slots and/or parking have been revoked. So, it’s always important to stay in constant contact with your 3rd-party provider and ground handler to minimize the chance that any last minute operating restrictions/surprises affect your trip.
4. Dealing with last minute restrictions
If and when airport and/or operating restrictions are announced last minute, operators can be left scrambling for aircraft parking, new permits, and airport slots. In some cases the regulations/restrictions are not published in English (or your native language), and this can cause issues/delays in deciphering regulatory changes. Always have Plan B contingency plans in place to deal with any last minute operational issues. It’s best to use experienced 3rd-party providers and ground handlers to assist with the restrictions, changing regulations, processes and delays often associated with high-traffic event venues.
5. Alternate airport tips
If you need to drop passengers and reposition, consider using an airport that’s not the primary alternate to the event – as the primary alternate may also experience parking and crew accommodations issues. In many cases it’s best to pick an alternate airport of entry (AOE) a little further out from the primary airport. For the recent World Cup in Brazil some operators chose to reposition out of country – to Uruguay and other locations. Likewise, if no parking is available at St Petersburg for International Economic Forum you may want to reposition to Helsinki (EFHK). Keep in mind, however, that there may be additional visa, multi-entry visa and permit requirements to consider with such scenarios.
6. Proactive policies
Always have fall back plans for alternate destinations just in case issues arise on the day of operation. Something urgent or unexpected may happen at your destination airfield, and you may need to divert. As fuel may run out, and/or be rationed or subject to long delivery delays at your destination airport, consider tankering fuel in or fueling on arrival. Alternatively, drop passengers and relocate to an alternate for fuel and crew accommodations. Also, it’s always recommended that you brief your passengers of items to consider upon arrival and restrictions to revisions that may affect the trip.
7. Use all available resources
Give yourself plenty of lead time when planning operations to destinations during large event periods. Research ground handlers, in-flight caterers, local transport options, and other 4th-party service providers well in advance. Contact your support provider directly with any questions and always start the planning process as early as possible. The Operational Insight blog is a great starting point as is our Business Aviation Planning Calendar.
Best practice, when heading off to large events, is to be aware of all applicable operating restrictions and to avoid unnecessary schedule revisions. Whenever possible, brief passengers on destination and schedule restrictions well in advance. Explain the importance of planning ahead and the potential implications of short notice schedule changes close to day of operation.
World Cup, 2014 Brazil and Brazil 2014 are trademarks of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (“FIFA”). Universal Aviation is not in any way associated with FIFA.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to a large event, contact Louis Smyth at firstname.lastname@example.org.