Tips for Operating a BizJet to a New Destination – Part 1 of 2
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating to new destinations.
When planning a trip in your business aircraft to a new destination, or a region of the world you’ve not traveled to before, certain considerations should always be top-of-mind. Taking care of these basic elements of trip planning will positively impact the success of your upcoming mission.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Permit requirements
Determine if landing or overflight permits are required for the intended private non-revenue or charter (non-scheduled commercial) operation. What are the required permit lead times, what documentation must be provided and what additional information – such as local business contacts – will need to be supplied? Watch for any special forms that need to be filled out (i.e., Israel landing permit requests). Are routing and flight information region (FIR) information required for the permit (e.g., as is the case in China). Know who will process the permit request and their hours of operation, as well as permit validity periods and permit revisions lead times.
2. Airport slots and PPRs
Be aware of airport slots and prior permission required (PPR) mandates for particular destinations. In some cases, airport slots and PPRs may be tied to aircraft parking confirmation. Know lead time requirements, any particular format that the request must be in, deviations regarding approved airport slot or PPR times, as well as lead times/restrictions in revising slots and PPRs. Also, know the preferred request format. In some cases requests must be submitted online or transmitted via a certain method (e.g., SITA). You also need to know if airport slot and PPR confirmation numbers need to be notated on your flight plan.
3. CIQ arrangements
Some airports of entry (AOE) have 24/7 customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) availability while others have specific CIQ operating hours or may be AOEs only upon request. It’s important to know lead time and notification requirements for CIQ arrangements as well as overtime availability and associated fees. Be sure to check documentation requirements for clearance – including passports, visas, general declarations and arrival/departure cards – as well as where clearance will take place. At some airports you’ll clear CIQ at the fixed base operator (FBO) or general aviation terminal (GAT), while at others clearance will be at the main terminal or – in certain cases – onboard the aircraft.
4. Ground handler or FBO availability
Dedicated general aviation (GA) ground handlers are available at most major airports worldwide. They may operate out of an FBO, GAT or an office in the terminal. If a suitable ground handler – with GA experience and fluent in your native language – is not available, what are your options for repositioning a supervisory handling agent to the planned location? Confirm hours of operation of the local ground handler, English-speaking abilities, options for overtime, and estimated cost of ground handling and other associated fees at your destination. Know what aircraft services are possible at the location as well as credit availability, and what sorts of forms of payment are accepted.
5. Airport operating hours
Operators need to be aware of airport operating hours, curfews, peak hours of scheduled commercial activity, GA-related restrictions as well as any planned closures. Does the airport have noise restrictions that prohibit operation of certain aircraft or that limit noise prone aircraft to specific hours? There may be airport overtime availability, and associated costs, to consider at certain non-24 hour locations. Be aware that hours of service availability, including fire service coverage levels, do not always mirror airport operating hours.
6. Jet fuel availability
Always important in planning any trip is local fuel availability, pricing and fuel credit options. At some locations you’ll need to arrange fuel uplifts 24 – 48 hours in advance, and there may be volume limitations to consider. At certain times of the year – high season at some Caribbean islands for example – there may be local limitations on fuel uplift volume. Communicate with your 3rd-party provider and ground handler as to fuel credit terms, fuel release requirements, applicable fuel taxes and delivery methods. If fuel availability/quantity cannot be confirmed you’ll need to consider tankering in fuel or fueling at an alternate.
7. Visa requirements
Not having correct or appropriate visas continues to trip up international GA operations from time to time. Be sure to confirm passenger/crew visa requirements and whether visas may be obtained on arrival or must be obtained prior to arrival. Be aware of all information that needs to be submitted for visa processing as well as related lead times. In some regions you’ll need to provide a letter from a local sponsor prior to a visa being approved. Crew must ensure they have the appropriate visa type. For operations to China, for example, crew must have “C” type visas and not regular business or tourism visas. It’s also important to be aware of crew visa validity periods as this might be only seven days or so when obtained on arrival.
8. Hotels and local transport
Depending upon where you go, and/or if a major local event is taking place, hotel and certain preferred local transport options may be an issue. It’s important to confirm hotel options well prior to day of operation. Are there full services and secure accommodations available, are airport area hotels an option, what do the rooms cost and what are the credit and cancellation terms? Confirm hotel security, drive times to/from the airport and any special crew rates available with your 3rd-party provider and/or ground handler. At more remote or secondary locations you may need to consider availability of air conditioning, western-style bathroom facilities, etc. Likewise for local transport—it’s best to know all your options in advance. At some locations rental vehicles and public taxis are not recommended unless you’re very familiar with the area.
Particularly when operating to new destinations, or new regions of the world, it’s important to consider security for passengers, crew and the aircraft. Does the particular airport offer adequate security in terms of fencing, patrols, cameras and airside access? Should you arrange local security for your aircraft, and is this allowable by the local airport authority? Consider requesting advance security briefs on the airport, local area, city and/or the hotel you intend to stay at.
A glitch or oversight in any area of the trip planning process can result in day of operation delays or even inability to complete the planned corporate mission. It’s important to work with your 3rd-party provider, and local ground handlers, to ensure that all local airport requirements, and required services arrangements have been taken care of.
If you any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which covers more operational considerations when operating to new destinations.