Operating to Eastern Russia – Part 2: Permits, Revisions and CIQ
This business aviation blog post continues from our article last week, entitled “Operating to Eastern Russia – Part 1: Airports & Operations.”
This is a post by author Dmitry Konovalov. Dmitry is general director for Universal Aviation Russia – Khabarovsk, based in Khabarovsk (UHHH), which provides 24/7 coordination of flight permits and ground handling services throughout Russia including supervision services at all Moscow airports. Dmitry is an expert on business aircraft operations in Russia and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Obtaining permits for general aviation (GA) operations to Russia has eased considerably over recent years. There are, however, varying permit lead times, operational requirements and documentation issues to consider in this region.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Landing permits
When operating to Russia it’s important to coordinate landing and overflight permissions with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Additionally, flight plans must be on file with air traffic control (ATC) at least three hours prior to departure. Lead times for Russian landing and overflight permits ranges from one to 14 business days, depending on the circumstances of your operation. If you make one to four non-scheduled flights per month on international airways to airports of entry (AOEs), and have less than 19 passenger seats, permit lead time is one business day. If your aircraft has more than 19 passenger seats, or is carrying more than 10 passengers, permit lead time is up to three business days. In the case of more than four non-scheduled flights per month, or use of non-international routes and/or airports, lead time is 14 business days. Once a permit is granted validity is 0001 Z on day of operation to 48 hours after the estimated time of arrival (ETA). It’s generally permitted to change route, schedule and entry/exit points without permit revisions. All you need to do is submit a revised flight plan no later than three hours before departure. If, however, you wish to change flight schedule to earlier than 0001 Z day of operation your permit requires revision.
2. Permit documentation
Operators must provide documents such as the airworthiness and registration certificates and a copy of worldwide insurance for Russian landing permits. Submitted documentation should be in English, readable, valid and as brief as possible. For example, if you submit a 50 page insurance policy, there’s a good chance the document will not be accepted. Note also that when using a call sign or flight number for your permit application, your flight plan must use the same call sign/flight number and not the aircraft registry number.
3. PPR and airport slot requirements
Neither Prior Permission Required (PPR) nor airport slots are required for operation to UHPP or UNNT. Airport slots In Russia are only needed for Moscow and St. Petersburg airports and for certain other locations during special events. Airport slots usually have deviation of +/- 30 minutes. When slots are required they must be obtained prior to the landing permit being issued. Once granted, slots can usually be revised and amended as needed if you’re arriving later than planned ETA or departing later than planned estimated time of departure. However, arriving or departing earlier than the original schedule can be an issue. Be mindful that your flight plan must always be in the system at least three hours prior to operation. If the airport is not certified for your particular type of aircraft you’ll need to obtain a special one-time approval from the Safety Inspection division of CAA.
4. Cabotage concerns
Be aware that cabotage violations are taken seriously in Russia. It’s illegal to pick up passengers or cargo at one point in Russia for transport to another point within the country. Customs officers carefully check gen decs, even on domestic legs, for cabotage infractions. If cabotage policies are violated operators may be subject to monetary fines, insurance refusal and long delays on the ground.
5. CIQ processing
Inbound customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) clearance must always be done at your first point of entry into Russia with outbound clearance being necessary for your last point of departure from the country. Upon arrival your aircraft will be met by an immigration officer and, assuming everything is OK, passports will be returned and your gen dec will be stamped and signed. It’s important to ensure that your papers are processed and stamped by both Customs and Immigration when operating to Russia. In some cases ground handlers may opt to skip the complete CIQ procedure to save time. Such practice, however, can result in long delays and inconvenience at your next stop in Russia. For tech stops at UHPP, CIQ is cleared onboard the aircraft while at UNNT crew and passengers go into the terminal for CIQ processing.
6. Visa and passport requirements
For destination stops in Russia, or incases of more than one tech stop in the country, visas are needed for many nationalities of passengers/crew and these must be obtained prior to arrival. Currently, about 50 nationalities are exempt from visa requirements, subject to various limitations such as stays of not more than 30 days. It’s important, however, that all applicable visa requirements are confirmed in advance with your 3rd-party provider. Crew members fall under the same visa requirements and may use a tourist visa for private non-revenue flights but must obtain business visas for charter (non-scheduled commercial) operations. At three airports in Moscow– Vnukovo (UUWW), Domodedovo (UUDD) and Sheremetyevo (UUEE) — crew members (but not passengers) can obtain visas on arrival. To set up crew visas on arrival you’ll need to contact your ground handler, prior to travel, and provide color scanned copies of passports. Upon arrival in the Moscow area you must present passport-sized color photos for each crew member. Processing visas on arrival normally takes about an hour and a half but in some cases can involve a five to six hour wait and you’ll need to remain with the aircraft or in a special zone within the airport.
7. Operating tips
Bear in mind that even though you may have applied for a permit two weeks prior to the day of operation, your permit may not be confirmed until 24 hours prior to flight. Be aware of assorted national holidays as CAA may only provide basic support during these periods and lead times are often longer. There’s a long 10 day holiday at the beginning of January and another at the beginning of May. If you’re making anything other than a routine flight during these times it may be advisable to postpone the operation until the holidays are over due to permit delay issues if the permit isn’t requested prior to CAA’s closing. If you’re working directly with CAA, without a 3rd-party provider, be mindful that air navigation fees will be invoiced to you directly and must be paid promptly. Failure to do so could result in processing delays on any future Russian overflight or landing permit.
It’s always recommended to use an experienced 3rd-party provider and local ground handler whenever operating to Russia — particularly to airport locations such as UHPP and UNNT. Be mindful also that if you’re making more than one international tech stop in Russia both crew and passengers will require visas and these must be obtained prior to operation. Also, be aware of permit lead time and documentation requirements for travel to Russia.