From access restrictions to avionics mandates and changing customs procedures, those who fly internationally have a lot to consider before venturing overseas.
“For aviation professionals and managers, there’s so much going on in the international arena,” says Craig Hanlon, chief pilot on the Gulfstream G550 for DuPont Aviation. “Things are constantly evolving, and it’s hard to stay abreast of the latest changes.”
Operators don’t just need to navigate 196 different regulatory environments – which are constantly and unexpectedly shifting – but also oceanic airspace, global weather disruptions, security hot spots, traffic caused by major events and a patchwork of equipment mandates.
“We want to give operators a simplified framework for looking at the world,” said Hanlon, who became chair of NBAA’s International Operators Committee in 2015, “So we’ve organized the most important issues into a hot topics list to monitor throughout the year.”
The list (below) will guide the committee’s agenda during Hanlon’s chairmanship. These are the items on which the committee is working and will keep NBAA members updated on.
Focus on Access
“The issue of access is really a common theme throughout the list,” said Hanlon. “It underlies almost every topic.”
In fact, access is number one on the list. The committee is working on a host of different access issues, particularly in Asia:
- Australia – The Australian Business Aviation Association and NBAA successfully advocated for relaxing restrictions at
Sydney Airport and changing the ATC priority system, which favored airlines. “Before, commercial aircraft had priority over all others,” said Doug Carr, NBAA vice president of regulatory and international affairs. “Your flight from Sidney to Brisbane could be delayed up to three hours. That will be changing to a first-come, first-served system.”
- China – “We’re still dealing with restrictive airspace policies in China," said Carr. During the 2014 APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, for example, Chinese authorities shut down business aviation access to Beijing Capital International Airport for two weeks. “Balancing security and access is always a challenge, but the closest alternative airport was two hours away. “However, Carr added, “China recently has made great strides in relaxing access for low-altitude operations up to 1,000 meters.”
- Hong Kong – Parking is still a challenge, but, “There’s a desire on all sides for more capability at Hong Kong International,” said Carr, who noted that NBAA is working with airport and FBO officials to discuss expansion and an updated parking configuration.
- Indonesia – In October 2015, Indonesia prohibited domestic flights by any foreign-registered aircraft. “Right now, you cannot fly from Bali to Jakarta,” said Carr. “That restriction is very unusual for business aircraft.”
Quickly after that policy change went into effect, NBAA worked with the International Business Aviation Council and the Asian Business Aviation Association to highlight the challenges the policy created, sending letters to the Indonesian minister of transportation and the U.S. ambassador to Indonesia.
Avionics Mandates May Affect Access
Even the items on the hot topics list not explicitly about restrictions on business aviation are essentially access issues, said Hanlon. Avionics mandates – item number two – are important because if operators are not equipped properly to fly in certain airspace, they will be denied access.
In Europe, a requirement to be equipped with ACAS II version 7.1 went into effect on Dec. 1, 2015. By 2020, all aircraft need to be certified for Link 2000+ data link, as well as ADS-B Out.
“There’s a tidal wave of [avionics] upgrades coming,” said Carey Miller, manager of business development at Universal Avionics Systems Corp., “and the difference with ADS-B Out is, if you’re not compliant by the mandate, you’re grounded.”
TCO and Other European Issues
In the last year, NBAA has helped clarify the process for securing third-country operator (TCO) approvals from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which recently announced a decision favorable to business aircraft operators. EASA says operators that applied for TCO authorization will not be required to change their existing flight data recorder (FDR) equipment, provided the already-installed FDR gear is on an aircraft that received a certificate of airworthiness prior to Nov. 26, 2016.
In addition, EASA has created a “virtual business aircraft” category, which will save operators time when adding a new aircraft type to their TCO authorization. Instead of applying for prior re-authorization by EASA, a process that could take up to 30 days, operators may add their new aircraft type through the agency’s TCO Internet portal.
Another issue for U.S. operators flying to Europe is Reduced Lateral Separation Minimums (RLatSM). In late 2015, RLatSM had been fully defined, but not yet implemented, so the International Operators Committee will be monitoring operators’ early experience flying in the newly configured North Atlantic tracks.
We want to give operators a simplified framework for looking at the world, so we’ve organized the most important issues into a hot topics list to monitor throughout the year.
“The authorities essentially took the two core tracks and laid a third track between them, using the new 25-nautical-mile spacing,” explained Chris Strand, an international captain for Amway and vice chair of the International Operators Committee. “To fly in these three core tracks, you’ll need to be certified for RNP4 [required navigation performance 4], CPLDC [controller pilot data link communication] and ADS-C [automatic dependent surveillance – contract].”
Finally, the International Operators Committee continues to monitor compliance requirements for the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS), which will undoubtedly will be affected by what the International Civil Aviation Organization decides this year regarding a worldwide aircraft-emissions standard.
Cuba, Brazil Are Hot Spots
With relations normalizing between the United States and Cuba, and the Summer 2016 Olympics coming to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the evolving customs, ATC and parking situations in those two Latin American countries also are on the International Operators Committee list.
“People are especially interested in traffic management for the Brazil 2016 Olympics, travel to Cuba, the regulations in Europe, and Reduced Lateral Separation Minimums,” said Hanlon, who promised to provide updates on all these subjects at NBAA’s International Operators Conference, which will be held March 21–24 in San Diego, CA. These topics also will be revisited during NBAA-BACE, which is scheduled for Nov. 1–3 in Orlando, FL.
While many of these international issues are changing rapidly, Hanlon pledged, “We might not have an immediate answer to every question, but we will get you one. That’s what makes our committee a knowledge center for the international aviation community.”
The International Operators Committee’s Hot Topics List
- Access – The committee’s top concern is threats to airspace and airport access worldwide.
- Avionics Mandates – The committee is making operators aware of certification deadlines for Future Air Navigation Systems (FANS), LINK 2000+ and ADS-B Out, as well as the expected demand for equipment upgrades at avionics shops.
- 2016 Olympics in Brazil – With the Summer Olympics coming to Rio de Janeiro in 2016, parking and slots are going to be in high demand, and the rules for applying for access are not yet defined.
- Contingency Planning – This underscores the importance of having a backup plan when traveling to or overflying security hot spots. Operators should also contact their handlers as early as possible to be prepared for unpredictable weather (such as hurricanes or volcanic eruptions) and other risks.
- Cuba – With access restrictions to Cuba easing, more business aircraft are traveling to the island nation than ever. However, the process – from receiving travel authorization to crew admission to insurance exclusions – is still complex and constantly evolving.
- Customs – An increasing number of countries are requiring advanced passsenger information system (APIS) submissions from business aircraft. In the U.S., APIS requirements are different for Part 91 and Part 135 operators, but eventually they may be harmonized. In January 2015, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published a guide for APIS submissions by general aviation operators.
- Navigational Errors – Business aircraft don’t fly transoceanic routes as frequently as airliners do, and, as a consequence, commit a disproportionate number of navigational errors in the North Atlantic airspace. To prevent these errors, operators need to have standard operating procedures for identifying and crossing oceanic waypoints – and train on those procedures.
- Reduced Lateral Separation Minimums – The North Atlantic Track system has been reconfigured for 25-nautical-mile spacing. Operators will need to be equipped for RNP4, CPDLC and ADS-C to fly in the core tracks. New plotting charts are now available.
- EU-ETS – With shifting implementation deadlines and exemptions, compliance with the EU-ETS is an administrative burden, but the fines can be significant, so operators need to be aware of the requirements.
- Advanced Flight Technology – Authorization requirements for enhanced vision systems (EVS), head-up displays and localizer performance with vertical guidance (LPV) vary widely across countries. Approaches that would be permitted with EVS in the United States may not be permitted in some other countries, so operators need to be familiar with local procedures.