Mitigating Risk when Operating to Volatile Areas – Part 1 of 2
This business aviation blog post is the first part of a series on mitigating risk when operating to volatile areas.
Certain areas of the world are more volatile environments compared to others for business-aviation operations. Risks can include war, terrorism, frequent kidnappings, or potentially more localized issues such as strikes and local civil unrest. Whenever there’s perceived volatility at an intended destination, it’s always best practice to review the security risk in advance and consider options to mitigate risk. Work with your 3rd-party provider to have plan “B” back-up plans in place if the situation becomes unacceptable while you’re on the ground.
1. What are the issues business jet operators face when planning trips to volatile areas?
Your insurance coverage may limit where you may overfly and/or land. Always confirm that insurance coverage and documentation is correct for intended destinations. A worldwide insurance policy is the minimum, but you’ll require war risk insurance and specific policy wording for some regions. In addition, for operations to certain sanctioned countries, you’ll need government licenses and approvals. Overflights of certain countries such as Israel will not be possible. Always obtain security briefings when unsure about the situation at your destination. Security risks can range from inadequate airport fencing at remote locations, to local riots in European countries as evidenced recently in Athens and London, to higher level geopolitical volatility at Middle East locations. Be aware of risks at all intended destinations to avoid putting crew and passengers in harm’s way.
2. How will this affect an operator’s trip?
A volatile destination may affect your trip directly or indirectly. Some things to consider are your organization’s operations specifications and what these will and will not permit you to do in terms of operating restrictions. Many operators avoid certain countries and regions due to their own internal limitations. You may have to delay a trip or consider using a charter (non-scheduled commercial) aircraft if operation within a particular region is prohibited by company policies. It’s also important to note that plan “B” options will add costs and additional pre-trip planning time to your trip.
3. What are some proactive options to mitigate risks?
It’s always best to use 24-hour airports so you can get out when you need to, unrestricted by airport curfews. Consider fueling on arrival to improve quick exit options. Have back-up permits confirmed for early departures and plans in place for alternate schedules, including information on hand about surrounding areas and available airports. In some cases, you may want to continually revise permits so that they’re always available for the next day. For example, this applies when operating to an area that may be experiencing riots. Know permit validity windows and keep all options open. Work with a 3rd-party provider to have permits and flight plans on file and ready for a quick departure.
4. Are there special considerations when chartering aircraft?
When in a volatile region, it’s best to keep your charter (non-scheduled commercial) aircraft and crew on location. In a drop-and-go situation, you may be left without viable emergency exit options. There will be additional costs involved in terms of a standard daily fee, but this improves your ability to get out quickly when necessary.
5. Any other suggestions when planning a trip to a volatile area?
In the event the local cell network goes down, carrying a satellite phone is a good idea. Consider having your flight plans sent to you in advance in case communications go down later. Arrange secure local crew transportation with vetted suppliers who know how to get you out of a risky situation off airport. If there’s a local strike or protest, you’ll want a driver who can orchestrate the best options back to the airport. It’s a good idea to organize security assessments of your hotels. Your security provider or 3rd-party provider will be able to do this. In some volatile areas, it may be best for crew and passengers to stay together at the same hotel with private security. Have embassy contact information and a list of available medical facilities at hand. Ideally, each crew member should eat a different meal to mitigate risk of sickness impacting the entire crew. Also consider having an additional crew member available and well rested in the event a short notice departure becomes necessary.
If you have any questions about this article, contact me at email@example.com.
Next week, we’ll discuss 5 more ways you can mitigate risk when operating to volatile areas.