Business Aircraft Ops to Ethiopia: Flight Planning

PT 4 M minute read
Business Aircraft Ops to Ethiopia: Flight Planning

This is a post by authors Stanley Joseph and Tigist Aberra. Stanley and Tigist work for Kilimanjaro Aviation Logistics Centre (KALC), a subsidiary of Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc. which is headquartered in Mwanza, Tanzania. Stanley and Tigist are experts on permits and handling aircraft for the African region and can be contacted at and

This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating in Ethiopia and continues from our last article: “Business Aircraft Ops to Ethiopia: Permits, Slots & PPRs.

Ethiopia is a generally straight-forward general aviation (GA) operating environment, but with some unique considerations operators must be mindful of. While flight planning and regulatory requirements in this region are generally less onerous and more flexible than many other parts of the world, there can be issues and potential snags for crews who are not properly advised or prepared for particular local requirements.

The following is an overview of what you need to know:

1. Flight plan filing

Ethiopia uses the ICAO 2012 flight plan format. A unique operating requirement in Ethiopia is that in all cases the pilot in command (PIC) must personally go to the airport office to file/sign the flight plan. The airport office then informs air traffic control (ATC) of the scheduled departure. If a correction is needed to a validated flight plan it’s necessary for the PIC to once again personally visit the airport office to file/sign the revision. Be aware that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) does not allow any flight from outside Ethiopia to fly directly to non-airports of entry (AOE) in Ethiopia. Therefore, all international arrivals must land at either Addis Ababa (HAAB) or Dire Dawa (HADR).

2. Pre-trip planning

Once your landing permit has been approved by the Ethiopian CAA, and a clearance number provided, ATC recognizes the flight, and you’ll be expected at a given date/time. After CAA grants a landing permit, ATC will be able to view this on their list of aircraft allowed to land during a given span of time. Be mindful, however, that the crew must communicate the permit number to ATC prior to landing.

3. Minimal regulatory restrictions

While it’s important to contact your ground handler and handling agent in advance of the day of operation to make arrangements for all required handling services, there are few unique operating procedures mandated for Ethiopia. No noise restrictions or noise curfews are currently in effect, and there are no mandated equipment requirements, such as RVSM or TCAS II. Additionally, no ATC clearance is needed for engine start up.

4. Pre-departure considerations

On the day of departure it’s recommended that the crew arrive at the aircraft two hours prior to the estimated time of departure. Prior to departure the captain must present and sign the flight plan at the airport office and make arrangements to settle all airport charges due. Be aware that even if you have a supervisory handling agent file your flight plan, airport authorities will still need to see the PIC and have him/her sign the flight plan.

5. Point of entry into Ethiopia is required

On departure, when the flight plan is signed, the crew needs to specify the airport from which the flight entered Ethiopia. It’s always important to recall your previous point of departure and to advise the local airport office of this. Otherwise, you may face delays in having a departure flight plan approved and filed.

6. Restricted airspace in Ethiopia

Ethiopia has an area of restricted airspace about 45 km outside HAAB and this area must not be overflown. Known as “Harar Meda,” in the town of Debre Zeit, this restricted airspace is an area of military aircraft operations.

7. Eritrea considerations

Be advised that incoming flights to Ethiopia may not cross Eritrean airspace or land in Eritrea en route to Ethiopia. If your next destination is to the north of Ethiopia be aware that you’ll not be permitted to overfly or land at Eritrea, due to political issues. If your flight plan indicates a routing through Eritrean airspace the PIC will be asked to revise the flight plan. Note that similar restrictions are applied by Eritrean CAA on flights arriving from, or overflying, Ethiopia. CAA is not concerned about and does not check, however, if the aircraft has permits for any other down line destinations.

8. Deviation on flight plans

From our experience, ATC tolerates a delay of up to about one hour from departure time on filed flight plans. If your schedule is significantly delayed ATC usually requires the PIC to personally sign and file a new flight plan.

9. Settling airport, handling and service charges/fees

After presenting and signing a flight plan at the airport office, the PIC must check a mode of payment box on the documentation to indicate how airport fees will be paid. Typically, airport charges are settled either in cash or via a supervisory handler’s credit account. If you plan to settle charges with handler credit it’s best to write “Payment will be covered by NAME OF HANDLER” on the form, with a signature and a date noted. This declaration will be forwarded to the airport finance department. Airport charges are often deducted from the prior deposit made by your supervisory agent.

10. Additional reading: Business Aircraft Ops to Ethiopia – Series Index

Note: Links will be updated as articles are published.


It’s always recommended to use a supervisory handling agent when traveling to Ethiopia. While the government appointed ground handler will take all responsibility for “below wing” ground handling above wing services and credit arrangements are usually looked after by your supervisory agent. Be aware that all flight plans must be presented to ATC by the PIC who has to sign the flight plan. Also, there are political issues with Eritrea so flights transiting that airspace aren’t permitted when traveling to and from Ethiopia.

Later we’ll discuss hotels, local area and weather for Ethiopia and their impact on your trip.


If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Ethiopia, contact us at or

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