Operating a Business Jet to Singapore
While Singapore is a welcoming business aviation operating environment with good services and facilities, aviation traffic and competition for limited aviation support infrastructure continues to increase, making pre-planning vital.
There are two airport options for Singapore, and each has its pros and cons. For many General Aviation (GA) operators, Seletar (WSSL) is the preferred airport option. With a runway of 6,024 feet (ft.) (1,836 meters [m]) and, a new terminal building, Seletar has become a more viable option for larger GA aircraft. In certain circumstances, however, Changi Intl (WSSS) may be a better choice.
The following is an overview of what you need to know to operate to a business aircraft to Singapore and how to make an informed decision on which airport to choose:
1. General Singapore operating considerations
Stage 2 aircraft are not permitted to operate to Singapore. Your noise certificate must state that the aircraft meets noise standards of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Annex 16, Volume 1, Chapter 3 – or the equivalent – in order to operate to Seletar (WSSL) or Changi International (WSSS). When flying over built-up areas surrounding the airports, aircraft must not go lower than 1,500 feet above ground level. Air Traffic Control (ATC) will guide aircraft, and, if instructions are not followed, you’ll need to provide an explanation to ATC. There are certain arrival/departure procedures in effect for WSSL, and operators need to have a copy of these instructions in hand when arriving at this location. These PDF publications are Seletar aerodrome joining procedure (IFR flights) from JB and KK – runway 03 and Seletar aerodrome joining procedure (IFR flights) from JB and KK – runway 21. Additionally, there are specific arrival/departure procedures required for WSSL, and these can be obtained at the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore website. In addition, all aircraft operating within Singapore FIR must have a Standard Certificate of Airworthiness. A Singapore Permit-to-Fly will be required if that is not the case.
2. Permit requirements
While landing permits are not required for private non-revenue operations, they are necessary for charter (non-scheduled commercial) movements. Note that charter landing permit requirements have recently been tightened, and the process is now lengthier. Plan on at least 14 business days’ lead time to secure a first-time charter permit for Singapore. Overfly permits are not required when overflying Singapore’s FIR, however, as Singapore FIR covers neighbouring countries, do refer to the respective AIPs for their overfly requirements.
3. Visa requirements
Operating crew do not require visas and will enter the country on gendecs. Visas are required for certain passenger/crew nationalities and are not obtainable on arrival. If a visa is needed, it must be obtained prior to arrival, and your ground handler can assist with that. Ground handlers require approximately one week to process visa requests. For many nationalities – including U.S., Canada, and European Union – no visa is required, and a “social visit pass” will be issued on arrival. To obtain a social visit pass – usually valid for 30 days – passports must have at least six months’ validity, you must have sufficient funds for your intended period of stay, and you must have an onward airline ticket if you’re not leaving aboard the arriving GA aircraft.
4. Yellow fever vaccination may be required
For entry into Singapore, a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is needed for all travellers over the age of one who, within the preceding six days, have passed through any country endemic for yellow fever. Note that International Certificates for yellow fever vaccination are considered valid 10 days after vaccination and for a period of 10 years thereafter.
5. Fueling considerations
Normal fueling hours at WSSL are Monday-Friday, 0730-2200 local, and weekends/holidays, 0830-1730 local. Fuel uplifts can be arranged outside of regular hours; however, at least two hours’ notice is needed to set up overtime. There are charges to pay for after-hours fueling. Fuel truck callouts costs a minimum of 240 Singaporean dollars (SGD) per call for four hours when prior notification has been given. There are also overtime charges at approximately 60 SGD per hour which is applicable to aircraft refueling during normal hours but the uplift is completed beyond operating hours or the uplift is scheduled after normal operating hours. Be aware that there may also be overtime charges to have your ground handler available outside of normal hours.
6. Procedure for arriving flights
For arrival in Singapore, passengers need to fill out immigration cards. Your ground handler will pre-fill out these cards upon request and can also supply you with immigration cards for future use. Singapore is working at implementing electronic arrival cards and an Advance Passenger Screening program in the near future. It’s necessary for all passengers/crew members to provide full names, nationalities, passport numbers/expiry dates, and dates of birth. In the ICAO section of your flight plan, the name of the pilot in command should always be included. There are, however, no repercussions at this time if an operator forgets to insert crew names into the flight plan.
7. CIQ protocol
Upon arrival passengers and crew members will be escorted to the terminal building where luggage will be screened and Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ)-processed. Note that you aren’t permitted to bring gum except for approved (by Singaporean authorities) oral dental or medicated gum. Also, no tobacco is permitted into the county with the exception of an open packet of cigarettes and when crew and passengers declare and pay taxes on the tobacco product they bring into the country. It’s important to note that if any crew or passengers intend to carry more than 20,000 SGD into or out of the country, they are required to make a report on the Physical Currency and Bearer Negotiable Instruments Report (Traveller) form. Do also note that there are other restrictions imposed by customs. It is best that you check the Singapore customs website prior to your arrival.
8. Airport security, in-flight catering, and local transport
Airport security at WSSL is good with 5-meter-high perimeter fencing, CCTV, controlled airside access and 24-hour patrols conducted by airport police. Private vehicles are not permitted to pick up or drop off passengers airside. While there’s no in-flight caterer at WSSL, your ground handler can arrange to have catering brought in from WSSS. Alternatively, you may consider sourcing catering from a local hotel/restaurant. There are usually no issues in bringing catering through airport security screening. For information on catering options, you can contact Air Culinaire Worldwide.
It’s best to arrange local transport via your ground handler – either prepaid transport (car with driver) or public taxi. You can get a free quote for ground transportation through Universal Private Transport.
9. Seletar vs. Changi Intl
Both WSSL and WSSS are 24-hour airports of entry with full aircraft services and support available. However, with effect from 1st January 2019, WSSL will be implementing Noise Abatement procedures between the hours of 1400 to 2300 UTC. WSSL is primarily a GA airfield and is now a level 2 schedule facilitated airport. Parking is becoming limited but manageable with hangar and compact parking options. The Airport has a new terminal with its own dedicated Business Aviation centre shared by all ground handlers. Delays in clearing customs and immigration may be expected as the centre can only accommodate 1 movement at a time.
10. WSSL pros and cons
WSSL is focused on GA operations, and the airfield is beginning to see heavier traffic. As a result, the airport is now a schedule facilitated airport. At this moment no airport slots are needed for WSSL, parking is generally available, and ground handling services are less expensive than at WSSS. Alternative parking for overnight stops is usually required for WSSS. Many regional GA operators prefer to use WSSL as there are seldom ground delays, and it’s only a 20-minute drive into the city center. WSSL, however, only has one, 6,024-ft. (1,836-m) runway.
Fuel prices are generally higher at WSSL than at WSSS. The current fuel vendor is providing a more competitive rate but is still not able to match WSSS. For additional savings on fuel, the UVair Fuel Program can help.
Airport authorities have stated that they’d like to move as much GA traffic as possible to WSSL. However, WSSL intends to implement slots eventually when the introduction of a commercial turboprop airline commences and adjustments have been made with the move to the new terminal.
11. WSSS pros and cons
WSSS is the primary commercial airfield for Singapore and a high-traffic location. WSSS has longer runways than WSSL and, therefore, may be preferred by operators planning max-length flight departures from Singapore. Additionally, fuel is cheaper at WSSS compared to at WSSL. On the other hand, WSSS ground handling services are more expensive, airport slots are required, and aircraft parking is limited to 48 hours, provided it is available as you compete directly with scheduled commercial airlines.
UPDATE: Changi Singapore (WSSS) Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore has suspended operation of all variants of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. As a result, effective immediately, Changi Singapore Airport (WSSS) will not be facilitating any general aviation/business aviation layovers until further notice.
Only quick turnaround operations between 0200-1000z (LT1000–1800) will be facilitated subjected to runway/bay availability. Read more about the impact of the 737 MAX gounding here.
For WSSS you may only request airport slots seven days in advance of operation and, due to airport congestion, may not get exactly the slots you request. WSSS is seeing a growth in commercial traffic and slots for Business aviation is very challenging.
12. WSSL closures
With effect from 1 January 2019, a night curfew has been imposed on all flights except for Medevac and emergency flights between 1400-2300UTC. This measure is intended to significantly reduce disturbance during residents’ rest hours in the neighbouring housing estates.
In addition, all operators of non-training flights are strongly advised to schedule both arrivals and departures outside the following periods:
- 0130 to 0230 UTC / 0930 to 1030 LT;
- 0400 to 0500 UTC / 1200 to 1300 LT;
- 0700 to 0800 UTC / 1500 to 1600 LT;
- 0900 to 1000 UTC / 1700 to 1800 LT.
13. WSSL procedures
CIQ clearance at WSSL takes place within the terminal building, and processing can be slower especially during peak traffic. There is only 1 counter and X-Ray machine to serve both arrival and departure movements. Priority will be given to departing passengers and crew. Currently, only GA traffic use WSSL, but this will change with the expected introduction of commercial turboprop operations. Aircraft parking is usually not an issue at WSSL, and power-in/power-out parking spots are available for most aircraft types. If you plan to stay more than 24 hours, however, you’ll be towed to a Compact Parking Area, but crew members do not need to be present for aircraft repositioning. Local handlers have tow bars available for most aircraft types. If you’re operating a less common aircraft model, it’s recommended to bring a tow bar with you.
Be sure to double-check operating and runway closure hours when planning a stop at WSSL. The good news is that aircraft parking will not be an issue and WSSL but some taxi and/or runway delays should be expected with the training hour restrictions and commercial turboprop operations.
It continues to be a challenge to obtain slots and parking at WSSS. In addition, handling costs there can be 2-3 times more than at WSSL. WSSL remains the best option for business aviation traffic into Singapore. Operators can expect more challenges, however, with the eventual introduction of commercial turboprop operations, airspace disputes between Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, and new night curfew.