Like beauty, the fine points of international flying can be in the eyes of the beholder. Although the destinations may vary, the best answers to mission-related problems for any operator emerge from good questions. They include:
• How experienced is the crew in the aircraft and with the destination?
• Will a trip planner be necessary or useful?
• Are both the crew and aircraft up to coping with the airspace, navigation and ATC requirements of the trip and the destination?
• What’s the security situation at the destination airport?
• Will both personnel and the aircraft be safe from the moment of arrival until level at cruise altitude on the return leg?
• What are the entry and exit requirements of the country or countries being visited?
• What if the overflight permit is refused?
• Will departing from one airport pose a problem when traveling to another, as in the Middle East, where travel between an Arab country and Israel is almost impossible?
• Upon arrival at the destination, will there be potential cabotage issues to deal with?
• How many flight hours will the trip consume?
• Is pre-positioning of relief crews necessary, or will two pilots work adequately?
• Who makes the safety decisions?
• How protected are passengers and crew from exposure to disease or other medical problems?
• Have flight crewmembers practiced wet footprint scenarios during training?
• Can cabin depressurization and fuel problems be addressed quickly?
• How significantly must crew and passengers be educated about local cultural or political problems?
If the answers to these questions or any of the other few dozen that need to be considered have the crew scratching their heads, ask for help.