Business Aircraft Ops to Japan: Flight Planning & Weather
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: Landing and Overflight Permit Requirements.“
Flight planning for business aircraft operations in Japan is, for the most part, straight-forward. But, there are particular processes that should be followed to avoid potential operational issues on arrival/departure. As each airport has specific procedures and local operating restrictions, it’s best to review all requirements with your 3rd-party provider and/or ground handler prior to day of operation.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. ATC procedures
All air traffic control (ATC) tower personnel in Japan are fluent in English. Flight plans may be filed either by your ground handler or directly via AFTN. It’s recommended that flight plans be filed approximately two hours prior to the estimated time of departure. If you have an airport slot confirmation it’s required that this be placed in remarks section 18 of your flight plan. Note that it’s important to ensure that flight plans are filed for the approved airport slot time, rather than a requested schedule. If you should experience a schedule delay be sure to revise your on-file flight plan with the updated departure time.
2. Aircraft equipment requirements
To operate in Japan’s airspace your aircraft must be equipped and certified for TCAS and RVSM. Japanese authorities also prefer that you have RNAV 1 or 5 capability. While ADS-B is not currently a requirement for Japan, this may change in future.
3. RVSM requirements
To operate within RVSM airspace all aircraft must be RVSM-equipped unless an exemption has been obtained from the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. The following equipment must be installed and functional:
- two independent altitude measuring systems
- an automatic altitude reporting transponder
- an altitude alert system
- an automatic altitude control system
While we’ve not seen any random ramp check take place, to confirm mandated equipment requirements, authorities do conduct random documentation checks upon the aircraft’s arrival from time to time.
4. Parking and tech stop considerations
At many airports in Japan long term parking spots may be assigned where there’s no hydrant fuel available and where you may not be able to taxi out. Either a push-back or tow may be required for departure. For tech stop purposes transit parking spots will, in most cases, be assigned. These will be power in/power out parking spots with no towing required.
5. Day of operation considerations
Upon arrival at the airport, prior to departure, crew will proceed directly to the aircraft. Your ground handler will have gathered all necessary flight related documents and provide this to the crew. Prior to engine start up, ramp control must be contacted for clearance. However, if you’re parked within the long term parking area at Tokyo Narita (RJAA) you’ll have to wait for a push back before starting engines. Prior to push back, engines may only be used for maintenance purposes, and only after permission is received from ramp control.
6. Pre-departure considerations
When ground congestion is especially busy, particularly at RJAA, you might need to delay departure due to flow control restrictions. At times you may be required to hold on the ground for up to one hour, prior to receiving engine start clearance.
7. Unique procedures at RJAA
Talk with your 3rd-party provider and/or ground handler about any unique airport procedures that may impact your particular operation. RJAA, for example, has a special gear down procedure that must be followed when on approach to runway 34L/34R. To avoid ice blocks falling from the aircraft, onto the ground, all flights making approach to runway 34L/34R from the seashore are required to have gear down and locked before reaching IYQ 12.3DME (NRE 14 DME) for runway 34L and ITJ 13.6 DME (HKE 14.4 DME) for runway 34R so long as safety of flight is not compromised.
8. Weather issues
June through mid-July is the rainy season in Japan, and airport operations occasionally shut down during heavy rain conditions. Typhoons are also a consideration September through October. In 2014, several severe typhoons struck the country causing damage at airports. There’s also potential for airports to close due to high crosswinds and/or fog conditions. In northern Japan, during winter months, heavy accumulations of snow can present operational issues and delays from time to time. Some airports in the north, particularly on the island of Hokkaido, restrict or prohibit overnight stops by GA aircraft during winter months, due to snow and snow removal issues.
9. Weather resources
Weather offices are available at all airports in Japan, and services are free of charge. Meteorological offices provide detailed weather for Japan but not for outside the country. It’s best to obtain current weather for regions outside Japan from your 3rd-party provider. NOTAMs are provided promptly via Civil Aviation Authority offices, including worldwide NOTAMs, in both English and Japanese.
10. Day of operation considerations
On the day of operation your ground handler will gather all flight related documents and weather briefs and consolidate this in one packet. If a request is made in advance, your ground handler will provide weather advisories during your stay and contact crew if significant weather, such as a typhoon, is predicted to impact the airport area.
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
Flight planning is straightforward for operators traveling to Japan, but it’s important to ensure that processes are followed such as ensuring the flight plan is filed for the approved slot time given. Weather considerations deserve additional attention during typhoon season and when operating to the north of Japan during winter.
Later we will discuss hotels and local area 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.