Overseas paperwork and its complexities

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

Cleopatra Group Chief Pilot Heimo Koncilla (L) and First Officer Michaela Plank wait aboard their Gulfstream G550 for tower clearance at GVA (Geneva, Switzerland). This CAI (Cairo, Egypt)-based operator does business on a very last-minute and changeable schedule and is always prepared with a plan B—with plan C and plan D just in case.

But you’ll need difficult-to-obtain US State Dept and/or Dept of Treasury approvals for planned visits to Iran, Cuba or to enjoy the spring cherry blossom festivals in North Korea. Charter operators face additional hurdles these days in securing landing permission at many locations overseas. “Japan has a whole list of requirements for Part 135 operators and it can be very confusing at times,” says Linebaugh.

“Germany and Italy also have rigorous requirements for charter operators. Overall, most of the world is requiring additional insurance for charter operators and has tightening cabotage rules for in-country transport.” Lately, charter operators to Japan have had to provide copies of their charter agreements in order to secure landing authority.

When flying to or from the US aboard charter aircraft passengers are subject to no-fly list prequalification. “We had a client who tried to charter a flight as he did not want to take his own jet,” recalls Foreman. “As his name came up on the no-fly list the charter was denied and he had to go back to Part 91 options.”

Be aware that Hong Kong has special insurance requirements for corporate operators, Mexico requires an insurance certificate in Spanish, issued by a Mexican company, while the UK mandates special insurance provisions—including a Crown Indemnity Waiver—for those who wish to land at Ministry of Defence (MOD) airfields.

You’ll need to provide evidence of airfield approach training if you intend to land at CUZ (Cuzco, Peru), KTM (Kathmandu, Nepal) or after dark at 4595-ft SVD (Kingstown, St Vincent & Grenadines). Previously, first-time operators to CUZ had to land at LIM (Lima, Peru) to undergo special class­room training but this requirement can now be accomplished online says Linebaugh.

Health regulations must also be considered and you’ll be fined in some countries for arriving without the correct immunizations. At certain locations, including Australia and India, you’ll be required to spray the cabin with an approved pesticide prior to landing.

No matter where you intend to fly, say ISPs, some homework needs to be accomplished in order to confirm paperwork requirements, curfews, runway closures and assorted operating restrictions. “There’s a lot less flexibility and tolerance for error these days,” says Foreman.

“Leave your laptop in the aircraft at HKG (Chek Lap Kok, Hong Kong) and it may take 3 hours to arrange the necessary clearances to get back to your aircraft. India can be troublesome as well so know the rules and restrictions in advance.”

Problem potential

Be careful if you plan to fly your new corporate aircraft internationally. A temporary registration certificate is technically not valid for international travel and many countries will not issue a landing permit if you have temporary registration.

When flying to China the crew must have a special “C” type visa cautions Pahl. “We know of a case where a corporate pilot landed in China with a business visa and not a crew visa. Passengers were permitted to deplane but this particular crewmember was fined $6000 and ‘deported’ to Hong Kong.”

However in another case, adds Pahl, a crew showed up in China with a Taiwan visa. While this was not legal the local agent worked with Chinese authorities and the crew were let in. There are many locations worldwide where passengers need visas but crews do not. Be careful, however, on how “crew” is defined at your intended destination.

“A flight attendant may or may not be considered crew depending on the location,” says Linebaugh. “In some countries a flight attendant will need a visa as they’re not considered crew. We had a case in Brazil recently where a flight attendant without a visa was detained for 3 hours and allowed to go to a hotel overnight but had to come back and stay at the airport all the next day.”

When a corporate passenger arrived in India with an undeclared gun recently it was not a pretty situation and the local authorities were noticeably distressed recalls Pahl. “The local handling agent stepped in and the situation was resolved but passengers were delayed.

This could have easily turned out to be a nightmare scenario had it not been for effective local representation mitigating the situation.” In another colorful case—this time at CAI (Cairo, Egypt)—a new first officer urinated on the ramp prior to takeoff as tower personnel looked on. “Luckily, they departed right away,” says Foreman.

“But it was all over the local papers the next day and the crew was concerned that they’d created an international incident.” You don’t need a major incident, problem or faux pas to affect your international trip in today’s world of tighter regs, security hurdles and more rigorous operating requirements.

All sorts of smaller paperwork and planning details have the potential to go awry and trip up a corporate crew. Ramp checks with full documentation reviews are becoming more common in Europe, and if this happens your whole stay can become miserable says Foreman. “You can be de­tained and fined as a result of a pop-up ramp check but usually the local handler will work out something with the local authorities in the end.”

A more restricted world

In today’s international flying environment paperwork and advance planning requirements are intensifying and this is catching some crews off guard. Provided you have sufficient planning time and you’re working closely with your ISP, things can usually be worked out.

Problem scenarios, from the paperwork and permit perspective, generally occur with shorter notice trips and can cause operational delays. It’s a good idea to give your ISP backup scanned copies of all your paperwork. ISPs work with international aviation authorities on a daily basis and can give good and timely advice.

Always check visa restrictions in advance and be sure to get the correct visas. Examine your planned schedule closely and be aware of curfews, closures and op­er­ating restrictions. If something should change with your schedule how flexible will slot and permit issues be?

All of this needs to be explained to passengers. Looking to the future, while cumbersome regulations, restrictions and paperwork requirements are sure to intensify these requirements are quickly going digital and much of this can be offloaded to ISPs and others who are busy managing international corporate operator complexities.

Editor-at-Large Grant McLaren has written for Pro Pilot for over 20 years and specializes in corporate flight department coverage.




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