The Do’s and Don’ts of Conducting International Flight Operations
This aviation blog post is part of a series on general best practice for operating a business jet internationally and continues from our last post entitled: 6 Things Business Aviation Operators Must Do Before Traveling Internationally.
For business-aviation operators, there are many things to consider when planning an international trip. With all the different components that comprise a trip, there are also many unknown factors that can negatively impact your flight. In our experience from handling thousands of flights, most problems clients experience are due to changes, weather, strikes, etc. You can take steps to prevent some of these problems and prepare for others. Below are some possibilities to consider:
1. Don’t: Rely on making last-minute changes
Short-notice changes have the potential to adversely affect a flight. Make sure passengers understand that they cannot necessarily make multiple schedule changes on short notice. Specifically, notification requirements for permits, airport slots and airway changes vary from country to country, which means that minimum timeframes (short notice revisions) for each country are different. Last-minute changes can be challenging for many locations requiring permits and/or slots. Overflight permits on long-haul routings (such as between Europe and China) can be challenging to reconstruct at the last minute, as multiple countries with coordinated entry and exit point authorizations may be involved.
2. Do: Consider the potential for confusion when splitting service requests
If you split service arrangements among different 3rd-party providers, you’re more likely to experience problems – particularly if the original itinerary changes several times. For example, a problem can arise when the route used for permits and that for the flight plan don’t match. This can easily happen, as different 3rd-party providers are responsible for separate but interdependent services (i.e. one provider arranges the flight plans when another provider arranges the permits which require specific routing).
3. Do: Reconfirm weather, airport slots and permits the day before departure
It’s best to confirm all pre-arranged services – security, in-flight catering, local transport, jet fuel, etc. – prior to arrival at destination. Also, be aware of complications that may result from short-notice changes. Confirm slots are in place and know the slot deviation permitted. Make sure you have flight plans, know the weather in advance and – in areas with potential security risks – coordinate early-exit options with your 3rd-party provider.
4. Do: Check the latest NOTAMS and news reports
Airport closures happen frequently for a number of reasons, including runway work and bad weather. There are times when these notices are announced only hours before the actual closing. Another factor that can stop a trip in its tracks is civil events – strikes, protests, riots, etc. – at the destination. Just like notices, these events aren’t always known in advance but can cause havoc for the passengers. If you frequently conduct international trips, chances are you have been, at one time or another, impacted by such closures and events. Researching these things the day before and the day of operations is strongly recommended and will help avoid putting your passengers and aircraft in harm’s way.
Here are two resources for checking NOTAMs:
5. Do: Work with your 3rd-party provider to avoid problems
Some operators request permits for an additional stop, just in case there’s an issue that may cause a diversion. If you run into problems with permits, call your 3rd-party provider when on the ground or Air Traffic Control (ATC) if in the air. If you’re stopped at a flight information region with a permit issue or miscommunication (and this can happen), your 3rd-party provider and/or ATC may be able to sort things out as you circle at a holding point.
While international travel options and flexibility are probably the best they’ve ever been, it’s always best to stack the deck in your favor by taking full advantage of 3rd-party provider support. Things occasionally go awry worldwide, so be prepared to use all available resources.
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What other Do’s and Don’ts would you add to this list? Share them in the comments area below.