Traveling to Leuchars Airport: Changes for GA Ops
This is a post by author Jason Hayward. Jason is General Manager for Universal Aviation U.K. – London-Stansted. Jason is an expert on business aircraft operations in the UK and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re flying to St Andrews for golf, Leuchars (EGQL) is the closest and preferred general aviation (GA) airport. St Andrews is one of the oldest golf courses in the world, and a popular destination for many business aviation operators. Here are tips on operating to the spiritual home of golf.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Leuchars airport
Located just to the north of the golf course EGQL is a military airport that currently permits GA operations. For the past two years or so EGQL had been closed to GA, with the exception of emergency operations. However, today it’s possible to fly in private non-revenue and charter (non-scheduled commercial) operations as long as the aircraft meets the airport’s maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) requirements. Private aircraft up to 45.5 metric tons (approximately 100,000 pounds) are accepted at EGQL as well as charter aircraft up to 10 tons (approximately 22,000 pounds). The reason for the weight restrictions is that EGQL does not have the resources to manage required security regimes for aircraft outside these weight limits.. For example, an operator of a G650 should be mindful of the 45.5 metric ton limit. Also, the runway length here is 8,491 feet.
2. EGQL hours and services
Normal hours for this location are Monday-Friday 0900-1700 local with overtime requests possible during weekdays and over the weekends subject to Military of Defence (MOD) approval. Lead time for airport overtime is 48 hours and there are charges associated. EGQL has a small fixed base operator (FBO) but services here are limited. At EGQL, lav service can be arranged in advance, with the truck driving over from Dundee (EGPN), but there’s no potable water service at this time. While fuel is available, and credit can be arranged with prior notice, oxygen and nitrogen services are not available. Catering can be coordinated via the local hotel in St Andrews.
3. PPR mandates
Prior permission required (PPR) for this military airbase is needed and seven business days’ notice is necessary. Required PPR information includes full schedule, aircraft information, crew and passenger information and insurance documentation. A Crown Indemnity waiver no longer needs to be completed but a fee is charged to cover this when operating to any UK military airfield. Note that crew and passenger information must be correct and any changes to persons onboard requires PPR revision. If you add a passenger to the manifest that has not been sent in advance you will experience delays upon arrival. If an unexpected additional passenger shows up at departure they may not be permitted to board and military authorities may not allow you to operate to EGQL in future. Note that local authorities take unknown passenger additions very seriously.
4. Airport slots
While slots are not normally needed for GA operations to/from EGQL they’re necessary during the annual Dunhill Golf Tournament. For this period, due to increased air traffic, airport slots are issued in 30 minute blocks. Once PPR and airport slots (for large event periods) are approved, confirmation numbers will be provided. However, these confirmations do not need to be placed in flight plan remarks.
5. Potential closures
EGQL, unlike many other military airbases in the UK, does not have an actively based squadron. However, this military airfield may close at a moment’s notice as per the Royal Air Force (RAF) requirements.
6. Parking considerations
Only limited aircraft parking is available at EGQL and it’s approved on a first-come-first-serve basis. When a PPR request is confirmed a parking spot will also be available. We recommend requesting PPR and parking as soon as schedule is known.
EGQL is an airport of entry (AOE) with customs/immigration processed either airside on in the FBO.
8. Alternate airports
If you’re not able to access EGQL, or choose to operate elsewhere due to operational flexibility considerations, EGPN is the closest option. EGPN is about a 30 minute drive from EGQL. Note that this location only has a 4,593 foot runway and is an AOE only upon request, via PPR application. Typical lead time for an EGPN PPR is 48 hours. Hours of operation are limited here but airport overtime is possible upon prior request. You may also consider 24 hour AOE Edinburgh (EGPH) as an alternate, about a one hour drive from EGQL.
9. Hotels and local transport
While there are limited crew accommodation options in the EGQL area, plenty of 4- and 5-star hotels are available in Edinburgh, about a one hour drive away. Local transport options include prepaid transport (car with driver), public taxis and minibus shuttles to/from the gold course. Rental vehicles are also available and can be delivered to your hotel.
If you’re heading to St Andrews it’s important to make parking and support arrangements in advance due to limited parking availability as well as PPR and slot restrictions. When considering EGQL be aware of all associated operating restrictions and overtime options. If you have passengers who may wish to change schedule, or may need to depart on short notice, other airports will give you better options in terms of overall operating flexibility.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to the UK, contact me at email@example.com.