Business Aviation Planning Tips: India Operations
Operations to India typically go smoothly for well-prepared business aircraft operators who’ve allowed sufficient trip planning lead time. It’s important, however, to be aware of permit and visa requirements as well as assorted local airport and airway operating restrictions.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Considerations when operating to India
The following are some questions to consider when planning a trip to India:
- When will you be going?
- Do all crew members/passengers need visas?
- How long will you be staying in the country?
- What airports will you be going to?
- Will you be going to any military airports?
- Will you be arriving and/or departing from an international airport?
- Do you have sufficient lead time to arrange permits?
- Is aircraft parking available at your destination?
- Is this a business or pleasure trip for passengers?
All of the questions above will affect the manner in which you operate to India.
2. Pre-trip planning is top priority
India has stringent documentation requirements and wants documentation/required information prior to your arrival. This is not an easy country to which to arrange last-minute trips, and it takes advance coordination to ensure smooth and seamless operations. It’s important to consider where you can/cannot park as well as Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) requirements. Military airports – such as Agra (VIAG) – require 30 business days to arrange permits. In reality, it’s best to plan on 60 days prior to allow ample time to coordinate required documentation. For travel to India, be aware that ACAS/TCAS II is required for aircraft with more than 30 seats or a maximum takeoff weight of over 3 metric tons.
3. Be aware of permit requirements
Private non-revenue and charter (non-scheduled commercial) flights are held to the same standards in terms of permit requirements. Both overflight and landing permits are required for India. The exception is that airways L894 to the west and L645 to the east do not need permits for overflight. Overflight permits currently require three business days’ lead time with a minimum of one business day’s notice, while landing permits currently require seven business days with a minimum lead time of three business days. CAA operates 1000-1730 local and shuts down during public holidays. Short-notice overflight and landing permit requests are at discretion of CAA; however, those are usually not possible due to the stringent lead times. Permit numbers must be placed in remarks item 18 of flight plan. For operations to military airports, operators receive two permit numbers: a “YA” number from CAA and an “AOR” number from the military.
4. Consider visa requirements
Crew members and passengers should have visas prior to arrival in India. At New Delhi (VIDP), 72-hour crew visas on arrival are possible with crew ID and passports required, but that service isn’t guaranteed. Upon arrival, customs will take the passports and give crew members slips of paper as their visas. Best practice for crew members when visiting India is to rely on visas on arrival only as a last resort.
5. Know requirements for military airports
Military airports require additional documentation/information as well as a minimum of 30 business days to complete the permit process. The military requires extensive personal information for each person, including full passport information, person’s father’s name, home addresses, place of birth, nationality, and pilot license number (for crew only). We recommend beginning the permit process 60 days prior to operation to give yourself sufficient time – in case the military has questions or concerns regarding your information.
6. Be aware of permit revision requirements
Landing permits are valid for 48 hours at non-military airports but only valid +/- one hour at military airfields. Permit revisions are not required for non-military locations if a flight is delayed up to 48 hours. If you add passengers to your flight, however, 24 hours’ notification is recommended for permit revision.
7. Know max length of stay for operations to India
Non-Indian-registered aircraft may stay in India up to 14 days and then must leave the country. If you need to stay in India longer, you may depart the country, land in another country, and return to India. Alternatively, a request may be submitted to CAA for an extension to the 14-day rule. We know of one case where an operator was able to obtain a four-day stay extension; however, the process took almost six weeks to complete.
8. Consider available services at your destination airport
Popular corporate destinations in India include Mumbai (VABB), VIDP, Bangalore (VOBL), Udaipur (VAUD), and Jodhpur (VIJO). Both VABB and VIDP are full-service locations. However, VABB closes 0800-1000 and1730-1930 local for all general aviation, and 2115-2315 local for arrivals-only with departures allowed. VAUD is not an Airport of Entry (AOE) and is only open 0615-2015 local daily. VIJO is a military airport and operational from sunrise to sunset. No aircraft parking is available at this location – only drop-and-goes and quick turnarounds. Most operators reposition to Jaipur (VIJP), 151 nautical miles away, for overnight parking. Bangalore (VOBG) has no customs available; however, VOBL is an AOE with CIQ. Be aware that some airports in India are uncontrolled airfields where even basic support and services are not available.
9. Be mindful of security precautions
Most cities in India are under a moderate security threat level. So, it’s recommended to obtain current country and city security briefings pre-trip. Secure transport, along with aircraft security, can be arranged as needed.
10. Consider hotel and local transport options
Mumbai and Delhi have major international hotel chains and good selections of 4- and 5-star crew accommodations. As supply of such accommodations during holiday and convention periods is limited, it’s best to book hotels as early as possible. Pre-paid (car with driver) transport can be arranged by your ground handler.
For additional information on operations to India, see recent articles covering India ops published on our blog.
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