Business Aviation Ops to Military Airports in India – Part 1: Access & CIQ
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating to military airports in India.
Military airports in India are often available to General Aviation (GA); however, permit requirements and available services vary depending on location. If you plan to operate to a military airfield in India, it’s important to begin the planning process early and work closely with your 3rd-party provider and local ground handler.
The following is an overview of what you need to know if operating to a military airport in India:
1. Military airfield availability
Dozens of military airports exist in India, and many are available to GA. While some restrict operations to military flights only – disallowing GA and scheduled commercial airline access – others are joint-use military-civilian operations. Many military airfields are purely domestic operations; however, some are Airports of Entry (AOEs) with Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) available.
2. Military AOEs
Agra (VIAG) and Port Blair (VOPB) are examples of joint-use military-civil airports that are AOEs with CIQ available. The list of AOE-capable military airports is growing. Chandigarh (VICG), for example, is a domestic-only military airfield, but this location is expected to become an AOE in the future.
3. Permit requirements
It’s important to note that a landing permit from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC), for travel to India, is different from approval needed to operate to a military airport. Once operating approval has been obtained from the military,this is forwarded to DGAC in order to process a landing permit. In other words, two permits are necessary when operating to military airports in India. Both permit confirmations need to be placed in remarks section 18 of the International Civil Aviation Organization flight plan. Revisions to military airport permits must be submitted at least 24 hours in advance.
4. Permit lead times are longer for military airfields
Lead times, when requesting landing permission for airports controlled by the air force or navy, are 30 and 20 days, respectively. In all cases, approval of your request will be at the discretion of the military. Short-notice requests depend on urgency of the flight and type of flight. Air ambulance operations are usually accommodated very quickly.
5. Documentation requirements
For operations to military airfields, you’ll need to provide a schedule, as well as crew/passenger information – including names, nationalities, passport numbers (with issue/expiry dates), and addresses while in India – along with crew status (Pilot in Command or Second in Command) and license numbers. All information must be complete, or permit requests will be denied or delayed.
6. Permit request procedure
To operate to military airfields the first step is to make a request – with aircraft, crew and passenger information – to the Indian Intelligence Bureau. Your request will be forwarded to the Ministry of Defense and then to either air force or navy authorities, who’ll review your route/schedule and advise on status of your operating request. The reason these requests require 20 or 30 days to process is due to various agencies having to scrutinize information submitted. In most cases, the only time an operating authority will be denied is when active military exercises are taking place during the time of the requested operation.
7. CIQ considerations
If the military airfield is an AOE, with on-site customs/immigration, plan on CIQ clearance taking 30-45 minutes. Clearance point will either be on the aircraft or within the terminal, depending on the officer on duty. In most cases you’ll clear CIQ within the terminal. Arrival/departure cards must be filled out, signed, and presented to CIQ. Ground handlers generally fill out these cards to expedite the arrival process. Luggage will be transferred by ground handlers for inspection at the clearance point. Customs officials will scan luggage and may go through it physically at their discretion.
8. Internationalizing domestic military airports
Some domestic military airports have become, and are becoming, AOEs due to increased levels of GA traffic throughout India. Jodhpur (VIJO), for example, is technically a domestic airfield, but it can be internationalized as an AOE by bringing CIQ in from a nearby international airport. To internationalize a domestic military airfield a lead time is required, and extra charges are applicable. At least seven business days’ lead time is recommended when making requests, to both CIQ and airport authorities, to internationalize a domestic military airfield.
9. Visa requirements
Passengers, depending on their nationalities, need to have visas prior to arrival in India. There are a few countries – such as Singapore and New Zealand – that have bilateral agreements with India, and visas are not necessary for passengers who are citizens of those countries. Always check in advance to determine applicable passenger visa requirements. Passengers without required visas will not be permitted into the country. Crew have the option of obtaining visas prior to arrival or obtaining a short-term visa, known as a Temporary Landing Permit (TLP), on arrival. A TLP is only valid for up to 72 hours. If crew members plan to stay in India any longer than this, they’ll need to have visas prior to arrival.
Permit lead times for Indian military airports are longer than for civilian airports. These airfields, however, are normally very accommodating in terms of CIQ, aircraft services, and overtime. It’s best to coordinate with your 3rd-party provider and local ground handler, well in advance, in order to ensure all required CIQ services and permit approvals are arranged.
If you have any questions about this article, contact Christine Vamvakas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which covers aviation fuel, services, and operational information when traveling to military airports in India.