Overseas paperwork and its complexities

Expect more hurdles for bizjets flying abroad, including security, regulations and red tape.

By Grant McLaren

US-registered Bombardier Challenger 601 arrives at VKO (Vnukovo, Moscow, Russia) with all the right forms, clearances, visas and insurance documents. But this crew may not be as prepared for its next stop at AGR (Agra, India) with its very particular landing permit requirements.

Orchestrating and managing international corporate flights has become more complex over recent years and the trend is toward more paperwork, bureaucratic hurdles and additional security requirements.

While traveling the world has become easier in many respects—with longer range, more reliable corporate aircraft and improved ground handling options overseas—there’s more involved in all facets of preplanning.

These days the larger risks, in terms of planning and completing international missions, have more to do with paperwork glitches and regulatory issues. Landing without the correct visa is a bigger problem than in years gone by and fines are more severe.

Insurance requirements have tightened—with documentation idiosyncrasies here and there around the world—and, today, having the wrong coverage is as bad as not having any say international support providers (ISPs).

More countries are demanding more information on crews, passengers and aircraft entering their airspace and this has reduced operator flexibility. “There’s more risk for an international trip going sideways these days due to regulatory, paperwork and security issues and we anticipate that these hurdles will only continue to tighten,” says Universal Weather & Aviation Master Trip Owner Ken Foreman.

“Preplanning is more critical than ever. It’s never been more important to be aware of the rules, requirements and restrictions as there’s less tolerance for error. Regs seem to be moving in the direction of treating Part 91 ops more like Part 135 and this will add complications to trip planning and record keeping. Much has developed over the past year on the security front and, over coming months, things may begin to radically change for Part 91 international corporate operators.”

Welcome developments

The good news is that more and more of these new and looming paperwork requirements can be offloaded to ISPs. “An international trip does not have to be a nightmare,” says Jeppesen Intl ITP Data Analyst Mike Rossi.

“Your ISP will be on top of what’s required and help you through the process but even the best planned trips can go wrong.” eAPIS reporting requirements have become almost a non-issue today as ISPs and third-party providers handle these details for many operators.

Newly implemented European Union (EU) emission trading scheme (EU-ETS) requirements—now affecting corporate operators flying to and within the EU—should soon be offloadable to ISPs and assorted support providers.

“You used to be able to just head out the door with your passport but there are now more advance requirements for documents and more countries are wanting to see crew medicals and licenses in addition to visas and passports,” says ITPS VP Business Development Phil Linebaugh.

“Brazil now requires you to have a Class 1 medical and they’ll want to see all original documentation when you land, at Indian military airports you must provide your father’s name and mother’s maiden name for background checks and Israel now gives you a code to call in the night prior to arrival in order to activate your landing permit.

More document and ramp check inspections are taking place around the world and we’re hearing of cases of trips going sideways due to documentation issues.” Bureaucracy and paperwork burdens primarily affect pre and postflight activity, rather than the actual flying routine, says Air Routing Intl Ops Supervisor Matt Pahl.

“Our clients still enjoy the business of international flying. Most of the onerous regulatory impacts have to do with the preflight planning phase. Civil air requirements have become much more demanding, globally, in issuing permits and we’re seeing a much greater focus on security these days.”

Visas and landing permits

Crew visas are required in much of the world but at about 40% of locations where crew visas are required they can be obtained on arrival, depending on citizenship, says Foreman. While crew visas can be set up on arrival in India, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, most of Africa and other destinations it’s important to know the rules in advance.

You may be required to e-mail a scanned copy of your passport a couple of days in advance for a security check. Depending on when you land plan on several hours wait at a Russian airport, without your passport, while your visa application is processed.

Valero Energy flight department schedulers discuss visa, permit and paperwork requirements for the coming weeks. Intensifying regulatory requirements typically affect pre-trip planning much more than actual flying activity.

Some countries can be rather changeable regarding crew visas. “It’s always important to double check visa requirements for every flight,” adds Foreman. “Some Russian airports, for example, may require crew visas for one trip but not the next.”

Penalties for landing without a visa range from detainment and deportation, a fine or perhaps just a slap on the wrist say ISPs. “Often it depends on the inspector’s mood at the time,” says Foreman. “A local agent may be able to resolve the problem but you don’t want to have to count on this.”

Plan on 30 business days to secure a landing permit at Indian and UK joint use civil/military airfields and prepare for more rigorous documentation requirements. Latin America is generally big on paperwork with most aviation authorities wanting insurance, registration, pilot’s licenses and medicals prior to issuing a landing permit.

In the case of Venezuela, particularly if the request is from an N-registered operator, landing permission is not a sure thing and over-the-top bureaucratic requirements may trigger weeks of preplanning.

Many Middle Eastern countries will want your business contacts prior to issuing a landing permit and officials in China will require a letter from your host company before issuing a landing permit. Israel mandates completion of a 3 to 4-page landing permit application signed by the captain, who must go online to create a password and provide that password on ap­proach to Israel.

And, if you intend to land anywhere else in the Middle East subsequently do not allow Israeli officials to stamp your passport. With proper preplanning you can arrange permits and ground handling anywhere—even if this involves making connections with local warlords for a planned RON at MGQ (Mogadishu, Somalia).


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