March 5, 2018
Business aviation operations are more global than ever, and regulations and requirements are constantly evolving. While operators that fly overseas research the regulations and procedures governing their planned route of flight and destination before taking off, there are several emerging issues that will affect such trips this year. Here are four of 2018’s most important international issues for business aviation:
1. EXPANSION OF STRATEGIC LATERAL OFFSET PROCEDURES (SLOP)
Strategic Lateral Offset Procedures (SLOP) – previously used primarily in the North Atlantic – are now being implemented in other parts of the world. A 2017 inflight incident involving a German-registered Bombardier Challenger and an Airbus 380 in the Mumbai Flight Information Region (FIR) demonstrated the need for SLOP outside of the North Atlantic. During this event, the Challenger encountered wake turbulence, causing severe structural strain during the recovery from the upset. Upon inspection after the incident, the aircraft was declared a total loss.
Consult airway manuals and other resources to determine if airways along your flight route have implemented SLOP procedures, and use those procedures to ensure adequate, safe offset.
2. OCEANIC ERRORS/ASSIGNED ALTITUDE DEVIATIONS
A recent study of 2016 North Atlantic Track (NAT) errors revealed that while business aviation accounts for 5 percent of the traffic in the NAT, this segment of the industry accounted for 12 percent of NAT errors during that period.
Gross navigational errors (GNE, i.e., lateral errors) were previously the most common navigational errors, but this study showed that altitude deviations – known as “large height-keeping errors” – were actually more common in 2016.
An altitude deviation of 300 feet or more from an assigned altitude falls into the “large height keeping error” category. The 2016 study found these deviations were mostly attributable to temperatures and their effect on aircraft performance – whether high temperatures impacting aerodynamics, or low temperatures affecting fuel.
t’s helpful to discuss aircraft performance with flight planners and watch for un-forecast extreme temperatures. Pilots should anticipate the impact of temperate and tell ATC immediately if they can’t maintain an assigned altitude. If the aircraft cannot maintain the assigned altitude, do not descend without ATC clearance.
Other common errors identified included descent without clearance and incorrect execution of a contingency procedure, including no offset, wrong offset or wrong vertical offset.
“You have to get a re-clearance from ATC, and if you can’t, you’re expected to execute a contingency and offset 15 nautical miles to avoid loss of separation,” said Mitch Launius instructor pilot/owner of 30 West International Procedures. “Descending without a clearance may result in loss of separation, which could be dangerous.”
Other common errors identified included descent without clearance and incorrect execution of a contingency procedure, including no offset, wrong offset or wrong vertical offset. Crews need to carefully review their flight plans and weather to ensure they avoid greater than moderate turbulence and high outside air temperatures. Crews should also review oceanic procedures, including contingency procedures, if their flight route includes flying over the North Atlantic
3. INTERNATIONAL USE OF MINIMUM EQUIPMENT LIST
Operators conducting international operations, especially to European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) states, should be aware of varying requirements for the use of Minimum Equipment Lists (MEL). At recent ramp inspections, EASA has issued “safety findings” to Part 91 operators using a Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL) as the MEL without the other required elements listed below.
A Part 91 MEL must include four elements:
- An FAA-issued D095 Letter of Authorization (LOA), authorizing the use of the MEL for the specific aircraft, with aircraft make, model, serial number and registration number clearly indicated;
- An MEL procedures document including maintenance and operations (M&O) procedures, developed by the aircraft operator;
- Policy Letter PL 36, the Part 91 Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL) preamble; and
- The MMEL, as developed by the aircraft manufacturer and the FAA.
“The operator-specific M&O procedures are a critical component of a complete MEL,” said Brian Koester, NBAA’s manager of operations. “Not only must the four elements be available on the aircraft at all times, but pilots must be familiar with the use of the MEL and M&O procedures and be able to answer EASA inspector questions about those procedures and the MEL in general.”
Since the MEL must be aircraft-specific, it must address any supplemental type certificates and all equipment on the aircraft. Any equipment changes made to the aircraft must be reflected either in the MMEL or, for equipment not yet reflected in the MMEL, in the operator’s MEL. The operator should be comfortable explaining the STC process and how those changes are reflected in the MEL.
China, India and other countries that follow the ICAO standards may also require compliance with the four elements above.
4. CBP UPDATES
A number of positive changes related to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) procedures occurred in 2017, creating new flexibilities and efficiencies for business aviation.
First, the agency moved to an integrated, more flexible Southern Border Overflight system. Requests are now operator name-based, instead of relying on a specific tail number, and no airport is required to be named. The overflight permit still applies to flights with crewmembers only, but turnaround time for the permits is reportedly down to 30 days or less.
Consult airway manuals and other resources to determine if airways along your flight route have implemented strategic lateral offset procedures, and use those procedures to ensure adequate, safe offset.
The CBP’s Reimbursable Services Program, developed to address public-private partnership opportunities, appears to be a viable pathway for resolving certain business aviation operational challenges. The program allows for stakeholders to help fund certain CBP services, such as after-hours inspections.
For example, small airports with fewer than 100,000 international passengers per year may use the program to offset salaries and expenses for up to five full-time CBP officers. For business aircraft operators, this may help address a variety of challenges, including the lack of, or insufficient, CBP resources at a particular port.
“The Reimbursable Services Program offers an opportunity to address some long-standing challenges faced by business aircraft operators when returning home, including not being able to secure landing rights, often at their home airport,” said Doug Carr, NBAA’s vice president of regulatory and international affairs. “Our industry has advocated for this type of program for years. This program affords new efficiencies to both the industry and CBP.”
CBP and industry groups, including NBAA, have revised the General Aviation Operators Guide, which covers both private operators and unscheduled charter flights. The updated guide is expected to be published later this year.
“The General Aviation Operators Guide was last updated in 2008,” said Sarah Wolf, NBAA’s senior manager of security and facilitation. “We believe this updated guide will help both operators and CBP officers know what is expected in order to manage Customs functions efficiently and effectively.”
These four areas are just a small sampling of recent or upcoming changes for international business aviation operations. Always research the regulations and procedures governing your planned route of flight and destination before conducting international operations.
NBAA provides a number of resources, including region-based guidance and a feedback database at the NBAA International Operations webpage (www.nbaa.org/ops/intl), and annually holds the interactive International Operators Conference to assist members in conducting safe and compliant international operations.
NBAA provides a number of resources for operators that fly overseas, including region-based guidance and a feedback database at the NBAA International Operations webpage.
In addition, NBAA annually holds its interactive International Operators Conference to assist members in conducting safe and compliant international operations. This year’s event will be held in Las Vegas from March 26 to 29. Among the topics to be covered are:
- International trip planning
- Flying across oceans
- Updates on global regulations, avionics mandates and Customs procedures
- Operational reviews of eight world regions
- Managing aircraft technology overseas
- International security planning and response