Route Planning Considerations for Overflight and Landing Permits
When you plan to submit routings for overflight and landing permit requests, there are several things you can do to improve your chance of success. One of them is to be experienced in locating preferred routes using en route directories, aeronautical information publications, notices to airmen, etc. Also, be ready for some countries (e.g., China, Mongolia) revising the route you’ve requested – even though it may be a published preferred routing.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Routes and/or FIRs are required for some overflight and landing permits
In many regions of the world, routing and Flight Information Region (FIR) information must be submitted when requesting overflight and landing permits. Some of the countries requiring routings for overflight requests include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bulgaria, Cambodia, China, Georgia, India, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Mongolia, Myanmar, North and South Korea, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, and many countries in Africa.
2. FIRs may be required for certain overflight and landing permits
Some of the countries requiring FIRs when permit requests are submitted include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Cambodia, China, Georgia, India, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, North and South Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Russia, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, and many countries in Africa. In South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Ocean, there is Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, the Fiji Islands, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines, among other countries.
3. Provide sufficient permit lead time when routings/FIRs are required
Lead time for overflight permits is typically three to five business days, while five to 10 days’ lead time is often necessary for landing permits. This depends, however, on the country you’re dealing with. It’s recommended to always confirm lead time requirements – as well as lead times for schedule revisions – prior to committing yourself to a planned itinerary.
4. Random routes should not be used on permit requests
In many cases random routes will not give you the best airways or FIRs, may add additional time to your schedule, and may be the cause for revision of the permit request if the appropriate Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) deems it necessary. Also, you may find that you’ve requested and obtained permits that may not have been needed if a random route was not utilized. You don’t want to find out on the day of operation that the routes you used for permit requests are not being accepted by Air Traffic Control (ATC) or are restricted during the time of your flight.
5. Be sure to identify all FIRs when required to do so
CAAs want you to identify the FIRs you plan to fly through as well as entry and exit points and at what time you plan to enter and exit those points. In addition some CAAs want you to include the route string. Certain countries are particular on routes/FIRs placed in your permit request while others are more flexible. For example Chinese authorities will often request that you change a route if they don’t accept the one you’ve selected. Cuban authorities, however, don’t require revisions based on routing requests unless you attempt to utilize restricted airspace. When Chinese authorities issue a permit, they’ll always specify the route you’re approved to use. If you do not follow this route, you will not be allowed to enter their FIR.
6. Flight routes should not be built too far in advance
When you use a particular route for a permit request, it’s best if you’ve built the route no more than six months in advance. If a routing is prepared any earlier than this, there’s a good chance that something may have changed within the route.
7. Consider running test flight plans close to day of operation
Running test flight plans prior to your operation is good practice as it gives you a chance to re-check the route to ensure it is useable. There may be times when winds shift and what was possible earlier isn’t an option now. In such cases you may need to plan an additional stop – perhaps with another permit involved – for a new schedule.
8. Be particularly careful with routings when more than one country is overflown
ATC authorities may deny you entry into their airspace if you’re using a route that wasn’t approved by their CAA. This may require you to change your route inflight – entailing adding additional time and cost to your flight. In some cases this may force you to land and re-route if you don’t have the range to complete the re-route – with the potential to add additional time, cost, and the need to apply for new permits for the revised routing.
9. Some countries will change your proposed routing, which may affect your other permits
We run across this situation on a regular basis with China and Mongolia. Chinese authorities may tell you to enter their FIR boundary at a specific fix, but you may not be able to get permission from Mongolia to exit their FIR boundary at that point or vice versa. Mongolia may deny your overflight permission, and you might not find out about this until you’re minutes away from entering their airspace. Best practice is to always check in advance to confirm routes and FIRs approved by the appropriate CAAs and to not deviate from those plans.
10. Having a backup routing ready can improve your options
When you request a permit on short notice, or when a major weather event looks like it may impact your routing on the day of operation, a backup routing may be beneficial. In this case it’s best to have alternate permits obtained and ready in the event that issues come up with your primary route request.
Whenever you submit a permit request, it’s best to call the recipient as soon as possible to confirm he or she has received it. If you wait until day before flight – and find out your permit request was never received – it may be too late to secure the necessary permit.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.