9 Tips for Flying Your Business Aircraft to Bermuda
Bermuda is a popular year-round destination and tech stop for business-aircraft operators. As with any international destination, be aware of operational and regulatory nuances. For example, if you arrive in Bermuda with an undeclared pet onboard, you may be turned back to the mainland. Your 3rd-party provider and local ground handler will advise on best practices to streamline the process of operating to Bermuda.
Here are 9 important tips to keep in mind when operating to Bermuda:
1. Make sure you understand how customs clearance procedures apply to your flight
Customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) procedures take place within the FBO at Hamilton, Bermuda (TXKF). Crew and passengers clear inbound CIQ separately and luggage is scanned. The process takes about five minutes. Passports are good for their entire validity period, and certain nationalities will require visas prior to arrival. It’s best to check with your 3rd-party provider or fixed base operator (FBO) regarding any visa requirements. For tech stops, no CIQ clearance is required, and passengers may proceed to the FBO lounge. For departure, there’s no outbound CIQ clearance needed. Be aware that all wide-body aircraft and all aircraft with more than 20 passengers onboard need to go to the main terminal for CIQ clearance and fuel before repositioning to the FBO ramp. Large aircraft (larger than a BBJ or ACJ) must remain on the commercial ramp.
2. Be aware of PPR requirements and operating curfews
TXKF regular airport hours are 0700 – 2300 local and operations are unmanned – no tower or fire rescue services – outside these hours. Prior Permission Required (PPR) is needed for operations between 2300-0700 local and cost is approximately $1,500 USD for a two-hour operating window for a General Aviation (GA) category 5 and below, plus approximately $200 USD per hour if you exceed this confirmed overtime window. PPR requests should be submitted by your FBO with lead time of at least 24 hours, but airport authorities may accommodate short-notice requests at their discretion. Cost of providing Bermuda Fire and Rescue Services (BFRS) for a two-hour window after 2300 local is: $700 USD for medevac flights, $1,500 USD for GA Category 5 and below, $2,500 USD for GA Category 6 and above. Additional cost for every hour beyond the two-hour window is $200 USD for category 5 and below and $400 USD for category 6 and above.
3. Don’t overlook pet restrictions in Bermuda
All animals arriving in Bermuda must be accompanied by an import permit issued in advance by the Department of Environmental Protection. If a pet arrives undeclared, it will be denied entry, and the aircraft would then need to depart with the pet. For a pet import permit you’ll need an original health certificate and a veterinary statement issued, dated, and signed by a licensed vet in country of origin within 10 days of the animal’s arrival in Bermuda. For more info, visit the L.F. Wade International Airport Web site.
4. Review tech stop requirements and rules
TXKF is a good tech stop, with turnaround times averaging as little as 20 minutes, and under one hour for very large aircraft. Customs is not required, and passengers and crews are free to enter the FBO during tech stops. For tech stops only, pets are permitted to deplane, do their business, and rest prior to returning to the aircraft. Hot refueling (passengers onboard) is permitted with Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs) present, and there’s an extra charge for this.
5. Confirm jet fuel and service requests early
FBOs prefer 24 hours’ notice to arrange jet fuel and services, but short-notice requests can be accommodated. To avoid uplift delays, it’s best to notify your FBO in advance of jet fuel volume requirements. GA fuel trucks accommodate about 5,000 gallons, and it takes about one hour for the truck to refill at the fuel farm. Fuel payment can be processed with an aviation fuel card, contract fuel release, or a major credit card. Cash is not accepted for fuel payment at this location, and you’ll likely pay posted price when using consumer credit cards.
Steve Woods wrote an insightful article called 5 Best Practices When Making Aircraft Fueling Arrangements that provides some additional tips on fueling in general.
6. Don’t worry about TXKF airport conditions and restrictions
There are no peak periods of airline activity to consider during normal 0700-2300 local airport operating hours. Current condition of runways, taxiways and airport tarmac is excellent, and TXKF runway will accommodate aircraft up to an Airbus A380. Stage 2 aircraft operations are permitted to TXKF.
7. Understand CIQ restrictions
Onboard catering, including fresh meats, may be brought into the country or kept at the FBO with customs approval. Firearms must be declared and will be stored for you at the airport by customs. If you don’t have appropriate documentation for firearms, these items will need to remain locked onboard.
8. Be aware of Safety Management System (SMS) requirements in Bermuda
SMS requirements in Bermuda affect all corporate aircraft greater than 12,500 pounds Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW) and/or turbojet aircraft. While you do not need to have SMS in place to operate to Bermuda, you do need to have at least started the SMS implementation process. Beginning November 18, 2010, the requirement for SMS has been enforced for all aircraft registered in Bermuda. Compliance with ICAO SMS requirements is monitored in Bermuda by way of random ramp checks. Non-Bermudan registered aircraft that operate to Bermuda and found not to comply with the ICAO SMS requirements will be denied re-entry into the country until they can demonstrate that a SMS is in place for their operation or in the process of being implemented. Acceptable evidence of compliance includes: IS-BAO certification, Air Charter Safety Foundations (ACSF) registration, ARG/US platinum rating, Wyvern registration, an SMS manual deemed acceptable by the State of Registry, or proof of intent to produce an SMS (such as a contract with a vendor who is enabling IS-BAO registration or a letter from IBAC confirming purchase of the IS-BAO standard).
If you need to learn more about SMS for business-aircraft operations, here are two great articles by Jason Starke:
- Understanding SMS Programs for Business Aviation
- SMS Implementation and Practical Considerations for Business Aviation Operators
9. Enjoy Bermuda. There’s plenty for crew to do
Bermuda is a small island – just 21 miles long and up to 3 miles wide – with a whole range of available crew activities. Bring your jogging gear and tennis racquets. There are plenty of beaches, as well as nine golf courses: seven 18-hole and two 9-hole courses. High-quality crew hotel rooms can be booked starting from about $120/night, but accommodations can fill up fast during special events such as the PGA golf tournament every October.
Bermuda is a welcoming operating environment with excellent FBO facilities, quick tech stops, and full services available. While non-Bermudan registered aircraft do not necessarily need a fully matured SMS in place to operate to Bermuda, the Department of Civil Aviation wants to see that you’ve at least started implementing the ICAO Annex 6, Part II requirement. It’s prudent to begin the SMS compliance process and to have some sort of evidence onboard indicating that you’ve recognized this requirement and are moving toward it.