Feb. 28, 2022

Even as COVID-19 restrictions finally appear to be easing around the globe, multiple factors remain that can make international operations challenging for business aviation flight crews. A Feb. 28 edition of NBAA’s News Hour webinar series examined a few of the most common missteps to help operators remain at the top of their game in this dynamic environment.

Shawn Scott, lead instructor with Scott IPC, cited several occurrence reports from North Atlantic High Level Airspace (NAT HLA) control sectors over the past year showing deviations from assigned routes, often due to minor errors. “A lot of information can be gleaned from these reports,” Scott said. “It’s a huge improvement from previous years when we had to do the research ourselves.”

Among the most common deviations in the NAT involved waypoints, route information and SLOP (Strategic Lateral Offset Procedures) distances mis-entered into the aircraft’s flight management system. Chris Duffek, a Gulfstream captain for JPMorgan Chase, noted a significant route deviation caused by the crew inadvertently entering a SLOP not of the standard 1-2 nautical miles, but 10 nm.

“This is something that can easily happen if you didn’t put the decimal point in the right spot,” he said. “Both people in the airplane must be on the same page and making sure you inputted the right numbers into the FMS.

“If you’re not plotting [your course manually], doing an app check or whatever your [backup] procedure is, you’re going to get yourself in trouble,” Duffek added. “These days, the most important words to international trip planning are, ‘Hey, how does this look to you?’”

The discussion then turned to the “elephant in the room,” the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine that has led to significant restrictions for operators, as well as airspace closures that may add hundreds of miles to flight routes and require new fuel stops and alternates.

“The entire [European Union] has published an official ban on not only Russia-registered aircraft, but all Russia-involved operations,” cautioned Pawel Laban, international trip planning shift lead for AEG Flight Support Services. “That includes operators with any licenses issued by the Russia SCAA (State Civil Aviation Authority) and even trips chartered by people connected to Russia.”

These and other international trip considerations will be discussed at the upcoming 2022 NBAA International Operators Conference, taking place March 14-16 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, CA. Learn more about the International Operators Conference.