UK Charter Permits – Regulatory Compliance
This is co-authored by Jason Hayward and Adam Hartley. Jason is general manager for Universal Aviation U.K. – London-Stansted. Jason is an expert on business aircraft operations in the U.K. and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Adam is a Manager for Universal Weather’s, Charter Management Orange Team and can be reached at email@example.com.
The processing of charter permits for the UK is managed by the UK CAA. It’s important to be aware of the permit request and revision lead time policies. Also, authorities are taking steps to eliminate “grey” charter flights that will affect operators not obtaining necessary authorizations for travel to the UK. The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Charter landing permit requirements
Landing permits are required for all non-EU registered charter (non-scheduled commercial) flights. Note that aircraft flying on experimental certificates must obtain a CAA exemption permit to operate in UK airspace, but this is a different process than a charter landing permit.
2. Cabotage Restrictions
Domestic charter operations within the United Kingdom are strictly prohibited and regulated by Civil Aviation. Head of State and official diplomatic flights are the only operations considered at this time for approval. For example, a schedule request (KTEB-EGPH-EGSS-LFPB) would be restricted due to the internal UK (EGPH-EGSS) leg. In this scenario, the operator would have to limit to one stop in the UK or include a tech-stop outside the UK, i.e. (EGPH – EIDW (Ireland) – EGSS)
3. Permit lead times
Official lead time for charter permits is two business days, and this requires that all applicable and correct documentation be submitted. Shorter notice permit requests are often possible at CAA’s discretion and only during normal operating hours. CAA’s permit office operates Monday-Friday 0900-1700 local and is closed on weekends and bank holidays, other than for air ambulance and humanitarian flights.
4. Additional permit considerations
UK charter permit applications require significant documentation, information, and statements — that must be submitted. Operators must provide an air operator certificate (AOC), evidence of appropriate EU liability insurance and a statement that no hazardous material is onboard. Each charter flight to the UK requires a separate permit as blanket charter permits are not available. More information on the documentation requirements is on the UK CAA website.
5. Permit revisions
Landing permit revisions also involve official lead time of two business days, assuming all information provided is correct. Revision requests are often processed in less than two days, but as with permit requests, this is at CAA’s discretion. All permit requests and revisions, including document submissions, are done via email. Once CAA receives a request, the system sends an auto response to confirm they’ve received it. Note that there is a 48hr + and – on the scheduled time as listed on the approved permit. This means operators can change the times only so long as it falls within the window. Nor is there the need to send a revised crew or passenger lists once a permit is approved.
You are also allowed to include up to five separate aircraft on a single permit and can operate the route with any one of the listed aircraft.
6. Short notice revisions
As CAA’s permit office is closed evenings, weekends and bank holidays you may face a schedule change that’s not possible to approve on time. If, for example, you have an approved permit for Farnborough (EGLF) and a next destination of Le Bourget (LFPB) but now want to fly to Geneva (LSGG) over the weekend, this will not be possible due to CAA hours and required lead times. Flight diversions, however, are allowed for in some instances. For example, if you’re flying to Northolt (EGWU) and have delays that will have you arrive after the airport closes, you may divert to Stansted (EGSS). Diversions due to weather issues or for technical reasons are also permitted without having to revise the permit.
7. Revision requirements
Permit revisions are needed for trip changes if:
- It extends outside the permit validity window
- It changes arrival airports in the UK (except diversions due to closures or weather) or departure/destination airports prior/post arrival in the UK. A change in departure point from Teterboro (KTEB) to White Plains (KHPN), for example, would require permit revision.
- There’s an aircraft change, operator name change or applicable documentation change. Modifications to the crew and/or passengers manifest do not require permit revisions.
8. Illegal charters
Operating a schedule that’s not approved by CAA is considered an illegal charter. The CAA is mandated to eliminate illegal or “grey area” charter activity. CAA posts all approved charter permits and schedules on their website for any operator to view. Permit confirmations are also accessible to all, including the UK Border Force and Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft (SAFA) agencies. If you operate a flight or schedule that differs from your permit approval, your flight could be stopped or SAFA may question you. If CAA determines that a flight has travelled illegally, they have the authority to prosecute the operator in the UK.
9. Security Implications
All chartered aircraft operating out of a UK airfield with and MTOW in excess of 10mt and departing with passengers are required to be fully security screened before boarding their flight.
See link for further details
It’s important that operators are aware of CAA operating hours and the fact that they will not make changes to charter permits outside of normal operating hours. The only exceptions to obtaining/revising permits outside CAA operating hours are in cases of air ambulance or humanitarian flights. As CAA is taking steps to ensure that operators obtain necessary permits, operators need to ensure they are adhering to the requirements set forth.