Things to Know if Your ICAO Destination Identifier Doesn’t Start With ‘K’

March 18, 2011

As U.S. businesses climb out of the recession, many flight departments that had previously flown in the U.S. only are starting to see destinations whose ICAO identifiers do not begin with “K.”

In fact, international business flights by U.S. companies are increasing rapidly; Jeppesen’s International Trip Planning Services Department reports an 18 percent rise in U.S. – Europe flights in just the first couple months of 2011.

“Flying to Europe is not particularly complex,” said Nancy Pierce, a business consultant for Jeppesen. “But there are specific operational requirements, regulations and potential ‘gotchas’ for flying to Europe that flight crews and schedulers need to be aware of well before engine start.” Pierce will be moderating the seminar on European flying at the NBAA 38th Annual International Operators Conference, to be held from March 21 to 24 in San Diego, CA.

European requirements for runway slots and prior permission required to land (PPR) are two of the differences a first-time crew will encounter, said Pierce. Also different are the procedures for handling flights in Europe, and she said that the majority of mid- and large-size company flight departments typically pay international service providers – there are several, including Jeppesen’s – to take care of paperwork, permissions, credit arrangements, reservations and other trip details.

But for all international flights by business aircraft, the magic word is “pre-plan.”

“Runway slot times assigned to flights in Europe are often quite strict,” said Pierce co- worker Annette Payne of Jeppesen UK, who will be the lead presenter for the European flying seminar at the conference. “There may be only 10 minutes’ leeway, and missing a slot time could mean going to the back of the line.”

“Business pilots really need to make sure their passengers are educated on how the system works,” said Pierce. She mentioned that failure of the crew to check passenger paperwork – such as visas for a specific country – can cause embarrassment. “In some cases, it can mean the passenger will be detained at the airport, or you may be told you must take off again immediately because a passenger does not have the proper visa and so cannot remain in the country.”

Payne also noted that ramp checks by European authorities have increased in the last year and that the mineral oil tax (MOT) imposed in Europe can be considerably higher than the base price for fuel in some countries, causing the total price to be “quite shocking.”

Dealing with Customs in various European countries can be another challenge. Payne said that the United Kingdom is considering e-Borders, a U.S.-style Advance Passenger Information System (APIS). U.K. authorities hope to have that system in place for all rail, water, and aircraft international travel to the country by 2014.

Other countries in Europe – 26 at last count – are members of the “Schengen Agreement,” which allows travelers from one Schengen country to another to bypass additional immigration procedures.

U.S. businesses planning to fly to the U.K. for the 2012 Olympics should already be developing their travel plans, Payne warned. “Remember that the Olympics is an additional event compounding an already busy summer season in London. It may even be better to reposition your aircraft to another country on the continent if you’re going to be there for a while.”

At the International Operators Conference, other regional reviews will cover the North Atlantic and North America, Caribbean and South America, Pacific Rim and Africa and the Middle East. Special international sessions will also be held on international SMS requirements, Customs issues, security best practices and more. Registration is available on the International Operators Conference web site. The cost is $925 for NBAA Members and $1,075 for non-Members.