In your opinion, which country you have flown to has been the most complicated in terms of bizav rules and regs? Why?
Mexico. It’s due to the complicated process of obtaining charter permits and foreign air operator certificates. It takes months to get approvals for blanket permits, and there is no standardization between one airport and the next. It is always necessary to involve a 3rd-party trip handler to wade through the bureaucratic red tape and try to ward off corrupt practices with the help of local authorities. Also, Mexico’s views on cabotage don’t align with the rest of the world. Mexico’s FDR requirements also make it impossible to add some aircraft to the blanket permits because Mexico requires an FDR when it is not required for US certification.
ATP. Citation CJ3+/CJ2+/CJ2 & Learjet 45XR
Dir of Ops
Burgess Aircraft Management
After landing in Guatemala, you park at customs, and 3 different sets of people inspect the airplane and paperwork. Then you move the airplane to parking. When departing, you do the same thing. However, they won’t give you clearance after everything is all right. Then you sit at the end of the runway for 30 min waiting for ATC to clear your route. It took us over 2.5 hours total.
ATP. Global 6000
Senior Intl Captain
In my opinion, anywhere in the European Union is always complicated. South America can also be challenging with ATC and non-radar ops.
ATP. Gulfstream G550
Dir of Aviation
Graham Capital Management
Most complicated country has been China. Absolutely every moment has to be controlled by the various authorities. For instance, we’ve encountered situations where they demand that a non-pressurized aircraft or helicopter fly at 22,000 ft.
Gaspar de Queiroz
ATP. Airbus AS365N2
Bhutan is complicated in this regard. They have very strict regulations on the number of tourists entering every year. A navigator is required. However, they’re always extremely friendly.
ATP. Falcon 8X
Operating in Brazil is complicated. You have to deal with excessive bureaucracy, strict customs, a lack of GA facilities, importation rules, domestic leg and other permit requirements, and assorted regulations that make it difficult. At least they do all this with smiles on their faces.
ATP/CFI. Citation X/II & Legacy 450
Russia during the 1990s had good enroute comms, but very poor terminal comm/instructions. It also used metric altitudes/flight levels. We developed a metric kneeboard card since the aircraft did not have metric altimeters. It was all right in VMC, but not so much in IMC conditions. Did I mention bribes to take off?
ATP/CFII. Boeing 727
There are a couple of complicated countries for bizav in the Americas. Mexico is on top, due to its regulations, followed by Peru. Other countries’ regulations are simpler and local authorities are easy to deal with. ICAO rules are not a problem. The problems originate within their mentality, which is to treat visiting aircraft operators as if we are guilty, and we have to prove them wrong. In general, bizav is a very poorly understood segment outside the US.
ATP. Falcon 7X
Flight Ops Dir
Used to fly for a businessman who lived on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. The Greeks and the Turks don’t get along. Both countries want control over the skies and each other’s territory. They do not recognize each other’s flight plans, making any pilot flying in the area feel as though they were committing a crime. Then, to top off the fun, the US, which controls the GPS satellite network, just decides to shut down the system intermittently. We were close to Syria when that happened. They do this simply because they can, and they leave you to fly through their contested airspace in dead reckoning mode. Wish we could all get along!
ATP. Citation CJ3
Mountain Aviation & Wheels Up
Eagle Point OR
Israel is complicated due to limited permit availability and a complicated requirement for arrival pre-announcement before entering Israeli airspace.
ATP. Challenger 350/300
France is hard to deal with. They have non-standard communications including extensive use of the French language with French pilots. In addition, they go through a lot of ATC strikes.
ATP. Citation CJ2
Independent Corporate Pilot
India makes it hard due to its excessive paperwork. Several people have to keep checking what the previous person has done, making it a difficult experience.
ATP. Airbus A300, Boeing 787/777/767, Challenger 300 & Embraer 145
Qatar Amiri Flight and Qatar Airways mainline
Gleniffer NSW, Australia
France is the most complicated one, in my opinion. It’s hard to deal with ramp checks, besides the ops manuals and procedures required. Also, we encounter unhelpful crew requirements.
ATP. Challenger 604
Have lived in 11 countries and seen 114 more. I’ve flown around the world and I’d have to say that flying in Russia, especially during the Cold War days, was probably the most difficult. It was helpful that I was a medevac pilot, so they let us in. Second most difficult would have to be parts of Africa. I lived in and flew all over Nigeria years ago and it was really a handful.
ATP/A&P. Challenger 605/350
Based on my experience, India is the most exigent country in that regard. They apply too many restrictions and bureaucratic procedures to get started. However, once you are in the air, everything is all right.
ATP. King Air B350
Italy has the hardest bizav rules and restrictions. They apply lots of nonsense rules and restrictions at any airport.
Comm-Multi-Inst/Helo/CFI. Bell 505/430/427/407/206 & Leonardo AW109
Flight Ops Mgr
Most countries require a large amount of time preparing for a trip. I will throw a curve ball and say the US is the most difficult, with its hodgepodge of customs procedures. There is no rhyme or reason. In some places you stay on the aircraft, in others you get off. In some you leave luggage on, in some you take it all. Most times, it requires tribal knowledge of how to handle customers at a particular airport.
ATP. Gulfstream G650/G500
The Kraft Group
Definitely, it’s China. First, the business people wanting to visit the country need to have some kind of invitation from a company in China. For example, if you are having a ship built, the construction company needs to invite the representatives of the company involved to attend. Second, the flight crew, needs “crew visas.” This procedure takes time, and, from memory, a copy of the invitation must be presented with the visa application. Single-entry visas are easier to procure than multiple ones. Once the submitted itinerary is approved, it may only be amended twice, including when flying within the country. If more than 2 changes to the itinerary are required, the itinerary application process starts again. Once flying within China, expect delays to depart, as ATC seems to favor the local air carriers. During flights, expect considerable track “offsets” up to 15 nm. Also, anticipate lower than optimum cruising levels (metric), and earlier than optimum descent points. However, ground handling is very good. International trip planners are essential.
ATP. Global Express/Challenger 604 and Boeing 737
Former Check & Training Captain
Mount Claremont WA, Australia
Russia has been complicated based on my experience. This is because rules and regulations are different in each city. Rules are not consistent at all.
ATP. Citation Sovereign
Gen Mgr & Chief Pilot
United Kingdom, for sure. It’s difficult to deal with their 8.33 hPa, different transition altitudes and transition levels at nearby airports. European ATN CPDLC clearances are mixed with voice clearances, and requested levels of radar service could be better. (There are areas of no radar service.) I also find difficulties with “land after” clearances, noise abatement departure procedures 1 or 2, APU time limits, and the copious additional regulatory or procedural requirements of every phase of operation. For instance, clearance during start, start clearance, taxi routings, SID and STAR approaches. I find many examples of over-regulation, such as the high-visibility vest requirement for crews, or the General Aviation Report (GAR) requirement, as opposed to the GenDecs that most other countries accept. Although they don’t always require us to comply with all of their SOPs, unlike our airline colleagues, unless you operate at a specific airport with enough frequency to know their expectations, you have to be familiar with all of them. But at least they speak English.
ATP. Challenger 650/605/600
Bosnia, North Macedonia and Moldovia’s low service, high cost of ground service, and general condition of the airports make things difficult when flying to those countries. It makes you feel that there is no real wish to get more business. You don’t get the value you have to pay for.
Operator. Fokker F27 Freighter
Owner & Sales
Vienna Airport General Aviation
Brazil has a very poor and rogue ATC service, with a deficient command of the English language, and excessive red tape and fees for foreign aircraft. For instance, a stop which should take about 30 to 45 min could, in fact, last hours. If you have the range and can fly over it, you’ll save a lot of time, money, and aggravation.
Juan Del Azar
ATP/CFI/A&P. King Air 200 and Beech Baron 58/Bonanza 36