Understanding ADS-B and Transportation Security Program requirements is crucial when operating GA aircraft here.
By Grant McLaren
Business aviation movements to, from, and within Australia and New Zealand remain at steady levels, although there has been an uptick in volume over recent years.
While these sovereign island nations are welcoming and efficient bizav operating environments, and the locals are friendly, there are considerations to be mindful of in terms of trip planning and day of operation tactics.
“From an operational standpoint, trips to this region are pretty straightforward, and there are full-service FBOs across Australia and at many locations in New Zealand,” says ITPS Ops Mgr Ben Fuller.
“However, there are visa considerations and Transportation Security Program (TSP) requirements to take into account in Australia, and insecticide spraying of cabins must be done prior to arrival.
Also, ADS-B mandates are expanding in this region. Operating costs here are much less expensive than they are at popular destinations in Asia, and both ground handling capabilities and services are on par with those in North America or Europe.”
Happily, there are few airport slot requirements in this region, virtually no Prior Permission Required (PPR) mandates, and parking – whether short- or long-term – is seldom an issue.
However, there are planning considerations that depend on where you’re flying in from and where your destinations will be in Australia and New Zealand. Noise curfews must be considered at certain airports, and cabotage restrictions apply when transporting local nationals within country.
“While you can anticipate straightforward operating conditions and good ground handling throughout this region, one of the larger challenges may be getting to Australia and/or New Zealand with shorter-range aircraft,” says UAS Ops Mgr Duke LeDuc. “If you’re traveling from North America, you may need to island hop, so tech stops, ETPs and airport availability become important considerations.
Even more challenging can be flying from South Africa to the west coast of Australia – a distance of about 4500 nm with few tech stop opportunities. Once you get past Réunion or Mauritius, there’s really nowhere to tech stop on a direct routing.” AKL (Auckland, New Zealand)-based Air Centre One CEO Robin Leach advises operators to do due diligence in researching mid-ocean tech stops, particularly late at night.
“PPG (Pago Pago, American Samoa), for example, has no ATC at night, and there’s only pilot-controlled runway lighting. NAN (Nadi, Fiji), on the other hand, is a 24-hour ATC-controlled airport. We think it’s best to avoid landing in the dark at uncontrolled airports in the South Pacific.”
TSP mandates for Australia
For more than 10 years, Australia has mandated air operators with equipment above 5700 kg MTOW have approved TSPs in place. A TSP covers all aircraft registered to a particular operator, and revisions may be necessary from time to time.
Note that fines of up to A$22,000 may be imposed if operating to Australia without a TSP and/or without having requested a TSP, irrespective of whether you already have a Safety Management System (SMS) or non-Australian security certification in place. “All operators to Australia require TSPs.
In the case of charter, this can involve a rigorous 60-page application and, potentially, months before they receive approval,” says Avfuel Account Exec David Kang. “While the private version of the TSP is a simpler and shorter process, you should still plan on the process taking 3–4 weeks.”
ITPS Sr Flight Planner Keith Quibodeaux says that TSP mandates for private General Aviation (GA) ops to Australia have eased somewhat recently.
“Now, so long as you’re not providing revenue services and do not have a permanent facility in Australia, you can e-mail your TSP application and expect to have it approved within a few weeks. No foreign-registered private operator has been stopped from operating to Australia without a TSP as long as it’s been applied for.”
International Support Providers (ISPs) may assist you with this TSP process if you provide your authority in writing. At present, New Zealand does not mandate an equivalent to the Australian TSP requirement.
ADS-B requirements are in effect for both Australia and New Zealand. This covers airspace from FL290 all the way up, as well as within controlled airport airspace. Exceptions had been possible in Australia up until Dec 11, 2015, but now all ops above FL290 must be ADS-B equipped/certified. ADS-B was mandated in New Zealand last year, and coverage will expand as of Dec 31, 2020.
“The government is currently subsidizing all locally-registered aircraft, at a rate of NZ$2500, to install ADS-B equipment this year,” says Leach. “Very soon, you’ll need to have ADS-B for almost any effective operations in both Australia and New Zealand.”
Airways, slots and parking
For travel within Australia and New Zealand, operators file on airways. Once airborne, however, ATC usually allows direct routing. Flight plans for Australia may be filed up to 24 hours in advance, but they need to be submitted at least 1 hour prior to departure.
The only airports in Australia requiring both arrival and departure slots are SYD (Sydney NSW) and PER (Perth WA), although BNE (Brisbane QLD) mandates arrival slots in some circumstances.
Slots at SYD are an issue only between 0600 and 0800 local, following the night curfew backlog. “There are no airport slot or PPR mandates in New Zealand, but there’s been talk of introducing slots for AKL,” adds Air Centre One Ops Mgr Donovan Bowden. “For any ops to New Zealand with aircraft from ICAO states, landing permission is just a matter of filing eAPIS in advance, and advising who’s on board.
Parking can be an issue for GA aircraft at some smaller locations, particularly at airports not offering tow-in/tow-out services. “At AKL, for example, aircraft are towed and the ramp can usually accommodate 9–10 business jets at a time,” notes Leach. “But some smaller airfields do not have the capacity to tow aircraft and may only be able to park 1 or 2 aircraft at a time.”
Overnight parking for any aircraft larger than a Gulfstream G550 or a Bombardier Global Express can be an issue at SYD, so it’s important to pre-confirm parking options here.
Visa & customs/immigration
Both Australia and New Zealand have introduced Electronic Travel Authorizations (ETAs). This is a quick process involving a light background check that can be done entirely online. Although ETAs can be applied for right up until you enter Australia or New Zealand, ISPs always recommend making ETA applications as soon as the trip schedule is known.
Approved ETAs are good for 2 years, and flightcrew members may stay up to 21 days per entry. Note that crew and passenger visas for Australia cannot be obtained on arrival. Online ETAs are available for most nationalities, but you must have at least 6 months remaining passport validity upon arrival.
Leach points out that ETAs for New Zealand are only available to passengers and crew who are on the Visa Waiver List (VWL). “You’ll need a traditional visa if your nationality is not on the VWL. And if you’re a flightcrew member who will remain with the aircraft, a 21-day visa is available.
Current ETAs are valid for a period of 2 years, but crew ETAs with 5-year validity will be available this year.” Business aviation users normally clear customs and immigration within FBOs at larger Airports of Entry (AOE) in Australia and New Zealand, but not always.
“In New Zealand, customs and immigration will normally come over to the FBO to clear GA,” explains Leach. “This is usually also the case in Australia, although you may not always get off-site clearance at SYD, and you may need to go over to the terminal.” Bowden adds that in New Zealand it’s best to first clear at a major AOE, such at AKL, rather than attempt to make direct international arrivals into smaller locations.
“ROT (Rotorua) will let you depart internationally but not arrive from outside the country,” he says. “DUD (Dunedin) provides customs and immigration services only by request, and needs 6 days’ prior notice. And NPE (Hawke’s Bay/Napier) will allow clearance, with prior arrangement, but will not entertain schedule changes.”
For customs/immigration clearance into Australia, ISPs recommend providing 48-hour advance notification with complete crew and passenger info. Upon arrival, crew members need to provide a stamped GenDec from the last departure point. Rules are very strict regarding temporary pet importation into both Australia and New Zealand.
You’ll need to provide prior notification of any pet arrival, paperwork must be complete and correct, and procedures are rigorous. “In New Zealand, a vet must physically examine each pet upon arrival,” says Leach.
All arriving aircraft into Australia and New Zealand must spray the cabin, at top of descent, and complete a certificate. Note that at certain tech stops along the way, such as NAN, spray at top of descent is also mandated.
“The requirement is to spay pre-embarkation and again at top of descent,” notes Bowden. “You don’t have to use the entire can, normally it’s about 25 grams or about ¼ of a can.
On arrival, you’ll meet a quarantine officer to show the used cans along with a completed disinfection certificate. Without this certificate, even if you’ve sprayed the cabin, they’ll likely respray the entire aircraft and keep the doors closed with passengers on board.”
Approved disinfectant spray can be difficult to obtain, including in the US, but it’s normally stocked at FBOs in the Hawaiian Islands, and also in Fiji and Tahiti.
Smaller airfield ops
Most popular GA airfields in Australia, with some exceptions such as ASP (Alice Springs NT), are located along the coasts, mostly on the east and southeast sides of the country.
New Zealand has several major AOEs, including AKL and WLG (Wellington), as well as several other non-AOE airfields that are frequented by GA operators. “At smaller airport locations, ground service and capabilities may be limited, and handling could be very basic,” notes Bowden.
“They’ll take bags on and off and remove trash, but may not be able to arrange lav, potable water and catering services. Fuel can also be limited at smaller locations. At NPE, for example, they only have a 10,000-liter truck. We recommend doing your servicing at major locations before going into smaller domestic airfields. It’s usually best to pick up catering off airport, even at larger AOEs.”
In Australia, FBOs exist at major AOEs such as SYD, MEL (Melbourne VIC), BNE, PER, and DRW (Darwin NT). However, business aircraft operators should anticipate ground landing limitations and potential delays at some other locations.
For example, while CNS (Cairns QLD) has an FBO, you’ll need to clear at the main terminal before taxiing over to the FBO. At some smaller airports, you could be handled by a local airline.
Over recent years, both Australia and New Zealand have become stricter in terms of noise issues. Within Australia, only Stage 3 aircraft are currently permitted to operate. Moreover, for SYD and ADL (Adelaide SA), late-night noise curfews are based on takeoff weight (TOW). GA aircraft up to 75,000 lb actual TOW with Stage 3 noise certificates may operate during late-night at both SYN and ADL.
On the other hand, both OOL (Gold Coast QLD) and MEL are closed to ops during late night hours. Over in New Zealand, at WLG, strict operating curfews are imposed from 2300 to 0630 local, the only exceptions being medevac or emergency situations. It’s always best to confirm applicable night and noise restrictions with your service provider on a stop-by-stop basis.
Weather and RON
Weather challenges are fairly limited in Australia and New Zealand, although there can be cyclone and typhoon activity from time to time. For crews remaining overnight, particularly at smaller locales, be aware that hotel accommodations may sell out occasionally.
LeDuc cautions crews to consider safety during RONs in this part of the world. “Don’t play with the wildlife,” he says. “This part of the world, particularly Australia, has some of the deadliest crocodiles, snakes, spiders, sharks, and venomous frogs that you’ll find anywhere in the world.
Even kangaroos, although they look cute, will kick you. A swim in the hotel pool may be a better option than jumping into the ocean or a nearby river.”
For a 1st-time operation to Australia, understanding ADS-B requirements and TSP mandates is critical, as these are potential lead-time and restrictive issues which could impede a short-notice operation.
It’s always best to provide 48 hours’ advance notice for customs/immigration requirements, pre-confirm parking, and research any noise curfew issues which could limit flexibility of planned operations.