Flight operations to an airport for the first time is a tricky task, but many problems can be avoided with thorough planning.
In this blog, we will work seamlessly throughout each challenge you may face during your flight operations to a new airport without the help of a flight support company.
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In theory, data and procedures on any given airport are cleared by the reading the AIP of that particular country.
However, in reality, there are many cases in which the AIP states something to which the local authorities enforce something else entirely.
It is important to double-check with local authorities to avoid any unlucky surprises (try your best to get your confirmations in writing!).
Many airport authorities prohibit access to the aircraft during its stay in the airport.
Once the crew leaves the aircraft, they will only be allowed back in for the scheduled departure.
Anything forgotten on-board will not be possible to retrieve, and no work can be done on the aircraft in the meantime.
The only way would be to obtain an airport pass, which is a complicated process that is not easily done under short-notice.
Numerous airport authorities will ask to inspect aircraft documents.
Make sure your crew is carrying with them their certificates, medicals and the original set of aircraft documents (C of Registration, C of Airworthiness, Insurance).
Keep note that many airports will not accept GEN DEC made in handwriting, it must be typed out.
Double-check the matter with your handler just to make sure you have everything ready at hand.
International travel will consist of airports classified as airports of entry/exit.
Will your destination airport have immigration and customs available?
If not, can your handler arrange for this in advance?
What are the airport operating hours and limitations?
Do they fit into your planned schedule or are changes required?
These are all questions you must have answers for before operating your flight.
Communication with handlers could be difficult in specific locations due to inadequate communication methods and slow response time.
It is critical to ensure that handlers are aware of your most recently updated arrival times and you must insist on receiving confirmations on all MVT messages.
The last thing you want is an aircraft with crew and passengers on board without anyone attending to their needs.
Certain airports do not allow keeping food items onboard, especially fruits and raw vegetables – and will ask to have them discarded.
You must plan accordingly when it comes to catering.
A six-month validity by the time they get back home is essential because of how strict many countries are on this rule.
Crew members can be held and in many cases not be allowed to enter if their passports are valid for less than six months.
If you require uplifting a large quantity of fuel, you need to make sure that your handler is aware of this, especially if they use bowsers for fuel delivery.
Availability and capacity of bowsers are critical and take up a significant amount of time – and many airports do not allow passengers to board when fueling is taking place.
High Traffic Airports.
Anticipate that aircrafts landing in high traffic airports might only be welcomed for a short turnaround.
Only, for then be asked to reposition to a nearby airport in case the aircraft requires to stay on the ground for a long period.
They differ immensely from one country to another.
In some, a GD is not enough for your crew to enter and stay in the country.
Instead, you are required to obtain visas for your crew before arrival.
You must be aware if you need to obtain visas for your crew (and passengers in case you are handling them as well) to have them clear immigration and be able to stay.
You may get used to receiving “yes” as an answer to anything, whether or not your request is understood.
Everything is always “maximum five minutes, no more”, however very little is done, and probably not within five minutes.
It is critical in many regions around the world to have someone who speaks the local language and knows the system to avoid poor service or no service at all.
Luggage and Possessions.
There are airport authorities that do not allow you to leave any passenger luggage/possession on the aircraft.
This is something you must be aware of in case of an extended trip with stopovers in different airports.
It is important to advise your handling agent to plan accordingly.
Many airports around the world require mandatory towing of the aircraft to a designated parking area, making it a process your crew will have to get used to.
You have to make sure that you have crew members ready on the ground, riding the tug and monitoring the towing operation to avoid unpleasant incidents.
You will need to be aware of the services that your aircraft will receive, as well as the fees that will be charged accordingly – and more importantly how you will pay for them.
Does your handler provide credit? Would they require a credit card payment? Would they ask for a cash payment?
Does the handler cover airport landing and parking fees or do you need to pay them in cash to the airport authorities?
You might require to have funds on-board, and in the correct currency. Certain airports will only accept cash for their fees (most likely USD).
Keep in mind old notes will not be accepted, so the money carried must be made up of new notes.
In the case that your crew/passengers are carrying with them prescription drugs, it is highly advisable that they have a signed and stamped prescription from a doctor.
This should be at the ready to avoid delays from tests that would determine whether those drugs are what they say they are.
In certain countries, unfortunate incidents of mild shakedowns will be faced by your crew in attempts to pay cash for services granted (or not).
It is advised in such regions that you arrange for credit or pre-payment, and to inform your crew to claim that they are not carrying any cash on them.
If you happen to have corporate gifts – stock your aircraft with them as they are great icebreakers and will smooth things in tough situations.
In slot-coordinated airports, it is best to stick to your given slot, as any minor change will cause long delays – especially in high traffic airports during their peak operations.
Not to mention possibility of getting a hefty fine in some cases!
Most airports give priority to scheduled flight operations with traffic stops, which might leave your crew repeatedly calling in attempts to get the service needed to continue with their light.
It is crucial to plan for this accordingly.
Many locations do not have tow-bars for specific aircrafts.
Will you have this on-board? Can nose-out parking be arranged to avoid pushback services?
It is imperative to have this sorted before operating any flight.
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