Business Aircraft Ops to Japan: Airport Operations
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 email@example.com.
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: Ground Handling.”
Japan is a much easier and business aviation friendly operating environment today than in the past with quality of service and support standards being among the best in the world. Still, it’s important to be mindful of specific airport procedures, which vary airport to airport, in order to maximize operating efficiency when traveling to Japan.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Airport hours and curfews
There are only three 24/7 airports in Japan – Tokyo Haneda (RJTT), Nagoya Chubu Centrair (RJGG) and Osaka Kansai (RJBB). In addition, Kitakyushu (RJFR) can be requested for 24-hour customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) clearance, but overtime needs to be arranged in advance, and charges apply. All other airports have operating curfews and are not 24-hour operations. So, it’s important to confirm that the airports you intend to visit will be open for your desired schedule.
2. Noise restrictions
To operate to Japan, the aircraft must meet Stage 3 standards or above – Stage 2 operations are not permitted. Note that noise restrictions and noise abatement rules differ in Japan, depending upon the airport.
3. Extended aircraft parking
Length of stay parking restrictions vary in Japan, depending on the airport. For example, Fukuoka (RJFF) permits only one night of parking. Some airports have only a couple of general aviation (GA) parking spots, significantly restricting parking availability. In RJTT, GA operators may park for no more than 10 consecutive days. Tokyo Narita (RJAA) has a max parking stay of 30 consecutive days. Parking requests are sent by the ground handler to the airport authority and must provide the aircraft’s full schedule as well as operator and aircraft information. It’s always best to confirm parking availability and restrictions with your ground handler in advance.
4. Additional parking considerations
At most airports, certain parking spots are designated for GA. However, depending on the airport GA may also be able to use commercial aircraft parking, with approval from the airport authority in advance. Hangar space for transient GA is very limited in Japan and should always be confirmed well in advance. For instance, RJGG has hangar space available, Kobe (RJBE) has hangarage for transient GA aircraft at the FBO, but at RJTT, hangar space is only possible if you’re doing necessary maintenance procedures.
5. Distance between airports and cities
With the exceptions of RJFF and RJTT, most Japanese airports are located outside the city. It’s important, therefore, to consider the drive time to/from the airport. Road congestion in Japan is usually significant between airports and cities, other than in cases of smaller or domestic airports. RJAA, for example, is located 31 NM (57 km) from central Tokyo and 3.8 NM (7 km) from Narita town center. Typical drive times are 60-75 minutes to central Tokyo and 15-20 minutes to Narita.
6. Peak hours of operation
Scheduled commercial aviation always takes precedence over GA in Japan. Priority for airport slots, parking, fuel uplifts and airport services always goes first to scheduled commercial movements. Be mindful that major airports of entry (AOE) in Japan – particularly RJAA, RJTT and RJBB – experience daily periods of particularly heavy scheduled commercial movements. It’s recommended that GA operators be aware of, and try to avoid, peak commercial traffic periods. In the case of RJAA peak periods are 0100-0300 UTC and 0930-1100 UTC. Additionally, RJAA experiences runway closures between 1400-2100 UTC. Your ground handler will provide you with current peak traffic times for your planned airport(s). This will help you avoid limited choices in aircraft parking, airport slots and CIQ clearance times.
7. Staging aircraft for departure
It’s important to be mindful of both your parking spot and assigned departure stand on the day of operation. On arrival at RJAA you’ll taxi directly to your parking stand unless you’ve requested fuel uplift on arrival. If fuel on arrival has been requested you’ll be towed to the long term parking area. For departure from RJAA, aircraft are towed from the parking stand to a designated departure spot where aircraft services will be performed. Departing aircraft should contact Narita Delivery for air traffic control (ATC) clearance five minutes prior to starting engines. It’s necessary to provide call sign, parking position, destination, proposed flight level and alternate flight routes (if any). Pilots should be prepared to start engines as soon as ATC clearance is received. Your ground handler can provide you with insight on the day of departure procedure for your requested destination.
8. Ramp Control
Ramp Control is responsible for apron areas and issues instructions, approvals and/or necessary advisories for ground movements within apron areas. Ramp Control issues approvals for engine start and taxi, in the case of departing aircraft, and provides approvals for arriving aircraft to enter the apron area from the taxiway at a specified gateway. Note that towed aircraft are also subject to ramp control clearance.
9. Technical stops vs. overnight stops
If you land in Japan for a technical fuel stop, crew/passengers are permitted to remain onboard during fuel uplift and aircraft servicing. If the passengers would like to enter the terminal for duty free shopping or even have a cigarette, it’s best to advise the ground handler in advance so arrangements can be made to do so.
For overnight stops in Japan towing is often required. Depending on the airport, and your particular aircraft type, the operator may need to carry a tow bar or tow head onboard. While ground handlers carry a good selection of tow bars at larger airports it’s best to confirm that the correct towbar will be available at your location.
10. Pre-departure towing
At some airports such as RJAA, you’ll need to be towed to the departure stand. In the case of fuel uplifts, you may need to be towed to a different location than your assigned parking slot. As pre-departure staging requirements vary from airport to airport it’s best to review applicable procedures, in advance, with your ground handler.
11. Additional reading: Operating to Japan – Series Index
Note: Links will be updated as articles are published.
- Part 1 – Ground handling
- Part 2 – Airport operations
- Part 3 – Additional services and security
- Part 4 – Fuel
- Part 5 – Customs, immigration, and quarantine information
- Part 6 – Costs and fees
- Part 7 – Airport slots
- Part 8 – Permits
- Part 9 – Flight planning and weather
- Part 10 – Hotels and local area
The largest and most popular airports in Japan experience considerable congestion in terms of scheduled commercial airline movements. Therefore, it’s important to plan any operation as far in advance as practical in order to ensure there aren’t any issues with the time of your operation. Note that some airports have restrictions regarding the length of stay on the ground. Also, each airport has their own requirements pertaining to day of departure procedures, so it’s best to communicate with your ground handler to obtain the specifics for your destination.
Later we will discuss additional services and security for Japan and how it may affect your trip.
If you have any questions about this article or operating to Japan, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.