Tips on Airport Operations for France – General Information
This is a post by author Sandrine Jackson. Sandrine is managing director for Universal Aviation France – Paris. Sandrine is an expert on business aircraft operations in France and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating to France.
There are unique paperwork and process requirements to consider regarding airport operations in France. Operational procedures vary from airport to airport. Variations are particularly acute at smaller regional airports. Work with your 3rd-party provider to avoid any overlooked considerations in airport operations that may hinder your trip.
1. Consider operating curfews
Operating curfews are in place at most airports in France. Some smaller airports have restricted hours and closures during public holidays. At Le Bourget (LFPB), turboprop aircraft are usually less restricted than conventional jet aircraft. Stage 2 aircraft are banned in France. If operating a hush-kitted Stage 2 aircraft, you may require a waiver, so it’s best to check with your 3rd-party provider.
2. Most airports in France are located relatively close to city centers
Major airports are usually located within the general metropolitan area, as is the case in and around Paris. Most small regional airports are an easy distance from primary business districts. Depending on traffic, commutes can range from 20 minutes to well over an hour, as in the case of driving from LFPB into central Paris.
3. Consider special requirements when traveling to France
Pilots are subject to strict application of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) rules when operating to France. Both the captain and the first officer must be no older than 65, possess first-class medical certificates and be appropriately type-rated. Safety assessment of foreign aircraft (SAFA) ramp checks occur more frequently in France. Ensure that correct documentation is in place for both aircraft and crew to avoid delays if subject to unannounced ramp checks.
4. Services are limited at smaller regional airfields
At regional airports in France, the local Chamber of Commerce may handle your aircraft, as no private ground handlers are available. The Chamber of Commerce in many cases may have limited English proficiency, limited ground support equipment (GSE) and minimal ability to coordinate 3rd-party services. Repositioning a supervisory agent from Paris or another major center may not be practical or permissible depending on local restrictions and ramp access protocol. Best practice is to anticipate, and plan for, limited services and support when visiting regional airports in France.
5. Aircraft parking considerations
While parking availability is good at LFPB and many major airports in France, there’s often a lack of parking during the summer (May-October) at Mediterranean locations. Nice (LFMN) and Cannes (LFMD) are regulated with airport slots to control the parking situation. During the summer, you may have to drop and reposition to another airport for aircraft parking. When parking is available, be aware that costs may increase exponentially (particularly at LFMN) as you remain on the ground.
Most airports in France have separate parking areas for business aviation and scheduled commercial airlines. However, at many regional locations, you may be parked near the main terminal. Crew members will always be notified before an aircraft is relocated on the field, though they don’t need to be with the aircraft when it’s moved. It’s recommended to park with brakes off in case relocation is necessary and crew members are not on site. Certain airports have hangar space available for transient aircraft, but most airports, and especially smaller airfields, have no hangar accommodations. For this reason, it’s always best to check with your ground handler in advance to confirm hangar availability. The condition of tarmacs, taxiways and runways is generally good throughout France.
6. Scheduled commercial airline traffic has priority
Whenever possible, avoid peak hours of scheduled commercial airline activity. Peak periods vary depending on the airport, but often occur 0600-0900 midday at some airports and 1600-1900 local daily.
7. Consider impact of airport curfews
During airport curfew hours, there are few operating exceptions other than medevac flights. At some airports, you may be able to arrange overtime, but this usually requires 48 hours’ notice. Your ground handler will confirm overtime possibilities for the particular airport you are operating to.
8. There may be fuel shortages – particularly on weekends
Certain airports in France, including LFMN, LFMD and Marseille (LFML), may run out of fuel on weekends. This is usually due to a French regulation prohibiting fuel trucks from operating on highways between Friday evening and Sunday night. Best practice when operating on the weekend is to uplift fuel on arrival.
Always confirm fuel in advance and be aware that uplifts, even when arranged in advance, may be subject to delay due to scheduled commercial aviation activity.
If you have any questions about this article, contact me at email@example.com.
Later we’ll discuss CIQ considerations for France and their impact on your trip.