Flight Planning Tips When Operating to Asia

PT 3 M minute read
Flight Planning Tips When Operating to Asia

This business aviation blog post is part one in a series on flight planning tips.

Routing and airway restrictions are more common in Asia than in many other parts of the world. It’s important to work with your 3rd-party provider – early on in the flight planning process – to identify restricted airways, one-way airways, and domestic only airways.

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

1. What are key flight planning tips when operating in Asia?

This region is riddled with restricted routes and it’s important to ensure you have a reliable resource to confirm restrictions and various required routing nuances. Routing within this region is often quite indirect, diversion options may be limited, and some flights may be pushing their range limits. Flights across Eastern Russia below FL 290, for example, face significant restrictions along most airways and this can cause routes to almost double great circle distance. For this reason operators should plan on appropriate tech stops or have the range to make required legs. China is very particular about routings and you’ll only be permitted to fly routes approved on your permit and due to the saturation of the airspace you can expect to fly at less than favorable flight levels. It is not uncommon to be assigned a flight level in the low 30’s on a leg that you might normally operate at flight level (FL) 400/410/430. Also, keep in mind that the military owns the airspace over China from FL 411 and above. You may operate in this airspace, but air traffic control (ATC) has to tactically work this out with the military and it may not always be granted. Other countries within the region are typically more lenient on routing changes – especially on day of operation – so long as you stick to approved entry/exit points.

2. What sort of problems might operators face?

In the pre-flight stage operators may find that multiple flight plan requests may be rejected by ATC until an approved non-restrictive routing is filed. On the day of operation you may find yourself making unanticipated routing adjustments that had not been expected. If routing corrections/adjustments are not made in a timely manner you could find yourself stuck at a Russian airport because you can’t make the next leg. Problems can begin to compound from this point. You may not have appropriate documentation to remain overnight at a Russian airport and, if not able to make the next leg, may be required to turn back to your departure airport.

3. Are there minimum equipment requirements needed to transit this region?

RNAV10 is required along various airways in the South China Sea as well as automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) requirements in parts of Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Indonesia will require ADS-B within its airspace beginning January 1, 2018. Hong Kong currently also has some RNP4 requirements on a few of its airways.

4. Are random routing permitted?

Flights in this region must be planned along published ATS routes or preferred routings published in the appropriate Aeronautical Information Publications (AIPs). Direct routes are only permitted in a few areas as prescribed by the countries AIP.

5. Are there special remarks that must be added to the ICAO portion of flight plans?

Special remarks must be noted in Item 18 of ICAO flight plans for general aviation (GA) and cargo flights into Hong Kong. All cargo flights arriving in Hong Kong must note “CARGO” in Item 18 RMK/field. GA flights parking at the Hong Kong Business Aviation Centre should include “BAC PARKING” in Item 18 RMK/field. You should also include your overflight/landing permission numbers in this field.

6. What are other considerations for this region?

China and Mongolia are the only countries in this region that still use meters. All other countries in the Asian region use feet. Be mindful that certain airways are absolutely restricted, and unavailable, to GA. In China airways L888, Y1, Y2 and Y3 may not be used by GA.

7. Additional Reading: Flight Planning Tips

Note: Links will be updated as articles are published.


Especially in the Asian region it’s important to understand that changes to schedule and routings can complicate the permit process and down line permit approvals. If you’re making a last minute change to a routing from Hong Kong to London, for example, you may run into significant difficulties in terms of coordinating revised routings, permits and entry/exit points with China, Mongolia and Russia.

Stay tuned for Part 2, which covers flight planning tips for the European region.

Got a question for Jason about this article?