International Operators Conference

 - March 26, 2007, 6:15 AM

A prominent moment of the 2003 International Operators Conference in Colorado Springs occurred just after the first day’s sessions. With dozens of pilots and aviation department managers standing around a nearby television, President Bush warned Saddam Hussein that the Americans and their allies were on the way. The war in Iraq erupted soon afterwards.

Everyone in the room that night, whether or not they flew internationally, realized the war would have an effect on aviation operations. The price of fuel had begun rising long before the conflict began. Security issues, already a drain on most flying budgets, were predicted to intensify because of the President’s decision.

Warp ahead to this year’s IOC in Anaheim, Calif., and the word from a few pilots who frequented the Middle East and Europe was that they could barely believe how little aviation security had actually changed since the war began, perhaps a testament to the intensity of the involvement in security by most aviation departments before the Iraq conflict and the remnants of 9/11.

One suggested that the simple reason security was not on everyone’s lips on the first night of the recent conference was that “We’ve been so beat up about security, there is almost nothing left to say.” Another aviator noted that although the 12-5 rule added layers of security protocol–such as the no-fly list, a Web-based data source for the names of people who for a variety of reasons should not be allowed on U.S.-registered aircraft–the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has yet to figure out exactly where Part 91 operators fit into the grand scheme of things. “And until they do, most of us are simply going to sit and wait to hear what they have to say.”

Content is King

The IOC formula each year is for the event to mix emerging issues with new slants on familiar topics. And even when the same topics are offered, the order in the conference varies from year to year. That means that crews new to the IOC might initially believe the first year is the most comprehensive, especially if the company they fly for is not currently conducting many international operations.

Another valuable aspect of the IOC is the regional updates. In these forums, pilots who regularly pass through various regions, as well as the international handling companies that arrange visas, permits and hotels, share the details of a local region’s customs and offer tips on the necessities of operating to every corner of the planet. The IOC is also well represented by international training organizations such as Air Routing International, Base Ops, Air Training International and FlightSafety International.

The IOC is built around practical advice. One Falcon 900 pilot summed up his fifth consecutive IOC this way: “If I walk away from this conference with only 15 to 20 percent new material each year, information that might save me from a considerable amount of extra work or delay in some remote part of the world, the time and money were well spent.”

NBAA director of seminars Sandy Wirtz reported that this year’s IOC attendance was 375, up from last year’s 342. In a show of hands early in the conference, it appeared the vast majority of attendees were from the U.S., while a handful came from Europe and a dozen perhaps from the other combined portions of the globe. Bob Blouin, NBAA senior vice president of operations, said, “This year’s conference represents a very important juncture for private aviation. We must protect Part 91 operations [internationally]. We are still seeing some of the same misunderstandings about business aviation we have seen for the past 25 years, which I find surprising since general aviation grew up here in the United States. China, though, has no GA to speak of. But the reason NBAA is soon going to Hong Kong is because China is a sleeping giant. People in that region see the value of business aviation. The Chinese aviation authority is hungry for information about fixed-base operations, maintenance and avionics, not to mention aircraft.”

While precise international flying figures from NBAA members are not available, some anecdotal evidence is eye opening. Bob Cushman, a GV pilot for General Motors, said, “There is more international flying (on a percentage basis) here than ever.” Norm Anderson, a GIV-SP pilot at Skybird Aviation, said, “Our international flying has decreased over the last year because of concerns over security at overseas destinations. We have declined several trips to Africa and Asia because of security concerns.” Kodak’s Ken Jackson noted, “Our international flying is up and is expected to double in the next 12 months.” Todd Chisholm, a BBJ standards captain for corporate air transport at General Electric, said, “More than half our flying is out of the country. In addition to western Europe, we’re seeing the Far East, including China, quite a bit.”

The Facts

Don Spruston, director general of the International Business Aviation Council, the umbrella group of the world’s business aviation organizations, reminded IOC attendees that while countries around the world are strongly encouraged to develop consistent aviation rules, “many countries still handle these issues differently. A number of U.S.-company flight departments have run into difficulty flying from the U.S. to Europe and Latin America.” Each country manages its own airspace in accordance with ICAO guidelines, so RVSM looks the same everywhere. However, although ICAO requires two type-rated pilots aboard some aircraft, some countries enforce those rules while others do not. Brazil is famous for strictly enforcing the two type-rated pilot requirement.

“A class one medical is also required to fly in ICAO airspace,” Spruston said. “ICAO says you cannot fly commercially once you reach age 60. But many countries don’t care.” A visa issue recently caught a U.S. crew in Brazil. A deadheading pilot did not obtain a visitor visa because he and the other pilots viewed him as a pilot. The Brazilian government did not.

“What a difference a year makes,” said Charlie LeBlanc, vice president of operations at Air Security International. “Terrorism has not left the landscape. Al Qaeda is still very much active. Unfortunately, the companies with the highest name recognition act as a beacon to criminal activity.” IOC participants agreed that anyone flying an aircraft related to Western interests in Europe, South America, Africa or the Middle East must consider themselves a potential target. In China, security management already seems to be well in hand by the Chinese authorities.

John Sullivan is a former secret service agent and now the director of worldwide security and flight operations for a major U.S. company that conducts considerable international flying. He put the terrorism issue in perspective: “The threat of terrorism still keeps me up at night. It is a deliberate use of violence against civilians for political or religious reasons to influence a wide audience. Terrorist acts are often deliberately spectacular, designed to rattle and influence a wide audience, beyond the victims of the violence itself. The point is to use the psychological impact of violence or of the threat of violence to effect political change.”

Sullivan added, “[In a flight department] security is just as important as safety. When we send people overseas, we ask how real the threat on the ground is and how to convey that verdict. Intelligence without communications is nothing. Where is the balance between too much information and too little? You can’t rely upon CNN as your only update source.”

Balancing Information

Sullivan suggests studying local customs, holidays, politics, climate and currency before operating in a foreign environment. “Have a passport valid for at least six months, and know visa requirements and the availability of medical facilities. Do not wear clothing or other items with corporate logos or insignia identifying you as an American. When at a foreign airport move quickly to a secure area located beyond the security checkpoint. Be unpredictable. If staying in the same hotel for several days, vary your routine and travel routes. Avoid carrying large sums of cash and limit the number of credit cards. Carry prescription drugs in their original container. Carry a photocopy of your passport ‘photo’ page.”

GE’s Chisholm added, “In the Far East, security has been stricter than in other regions for 15 years. Operationally, they were already at a pretty high level anyway. They regularly stop automobiles at the airport.” NBAA’s Blouin said, “Most of us are not security experts. Like aviation, security people speak an entirely different language. A lot of our time at NBAA is spent at the TSA these days since that agency is still aggressively learning about general aviation.”

Val Trent flies a Challenger out of the Seattle area. He said, “In terms of security, I think Part 91 operators should have access to some of the same resources that commercial operators do, specifically some of the 12-5 information. I don’t think Part 91 operators should necessarily be subject to some of the same scrutiny that commercial operators are, mainly because they typically know their passengers. But if a crewmember has a security issue, there should be a place for him or her to take the problem. The 12-5 rules got me into this. But Part 91 guys could not report an issue such as a stolen crew ID or uniform, since they have no access.”

Blouin spoke about the TSA access certificate (TSAAC) test program in place at three New York- area business aviation airports that offers waivers on U.S. entry procedures for qualifying company flight departments. “NBAA provides the training that allows companies to qualify for the TSAAC. To date, 24 companies have taken TSAAC training and qualified 544 employees.”

One TSAAC-qualified international pilot told an interesting tale: “We were headed to Teterboro from Europe and were told to land at Newark for security. The TSA people had never heard of TSAAC.” Blouin admitted, “There is still work to be done on TSAAC. This training takes time, effort and documentation. It is not that business aviation is not secure–but much of what we do simply is not documented.”

After leaving its long-time base at White Plains, N.Y., for Stewart Airport in Newburgh, N.Y., GE’s flight department was not able to take part in TSAAC. But GE’s
Chisholm added an interesting side note: “I believe one of the major advantages of TSAAC will be access to DCA. We used to go in there three times per week. When access to National does happen, I think TSAAC will be a preliminary step.”

People are Listening

“We’re spoiled a bit by the ability to make adjustments in our ATC system,” said Chisholm. “We assume that convenience exists around the world, and it does not. European airspace is more controlled. No matter how long the trip, if you’re not busy it’s because you’re forgetting something. That’s just the way it is. In Europe, it is not uncommon for pilots to laugh at the lack of professionalism displayed on the radio occasionally by the crews of U.S.-registered aircraft. U.S. crews sometimes seem very apathetic at a time when the airspace restrictions require even more attention than normal. Just because we don’t normally use PANSOPS [Procedures for Air Navigation Services, for Aircraft Operations] is no excuse for not understanding them overseas.”

Dave Lacey with NATS, the UK’s ATC system, spoke to pilots flying the North Atlantic Tracks. “About 5 percent of the traffic across the North Atlantic is business aviation, or about 15,000 operations each year. Gross navigational errors (GNEs) are still a problem, with 13 incidents since this past February. Six were actual GNEs and the others were clearance problems.” Some of the examples in Lacey’s talk were chilling, such as the crew that wanted a higher altitude over the North Atlantic and simply took it upon themselves to initiate their own climb without communicating to anyone.

Lacey offered a few tips: “Make certain your FMS is loaded with the cleared flight plan, not your filed flight plan. Report where your aircraft is actually going, not where you believe it is going. It is also now possible for suitably equipped aircraft operating in the North Atlantic to receive their westbound oceanic clearance, make their waypoint position reports, request and receive en route re-clearances and receive their first domestic r/t frequency without speaking to anyone.” International operations across the North Atlantic will also soon include strategic lateral offset of one or two miles to the right, as well as new Gander oceanic fixes.

FBI Says…

Kristen Von KlienSmid, a supervisory FBI Special Agent in Washington, chimed in with a few sobering thoughts. “Manpads [shoulder-launched missiles] are viewed as the greatest threat to air transportation. In addition to their portability and ease of use, they are readily available. The Department of Homeland Security recently issued a $60 million grant for research on anti-missile countermeasures at commercial airports.”

Further, the FBI is tracking 74 different terrorist organizations, a number of which the agency believes are operating in the U.S. One of the issues of major concern to business aviation interests is that in the government’s push against terror, the tightening of airline security could well drive terrorists toward general aviation airports.

During the IOC question and answer session on this topic, Von KlienSmid explained the current TSA procedure of reporting on commercial airport vulnerability as possible missile launching sites. When AIN asked Von KlienSmid exactly what happens once the evaluation and definition of the threat potential are identified, she admitted that other than telling airport authorities of the possibilities, no further action on the evaluation is currently taking place. “Hopefully, [airport management] will improve security at the airport after the assessment,” she said.

South of Europe

Ed Boyo, managing director of Landover Aviation, a Lagos, Nigeria-based ground-handling company, is an IOC regular who reports on the state of business aviation in Africa. “The last time I was here, my presentation looked more like a CIA briefing. Business aviation in Africa has had a great deal of attention in the past year as a useful and valuable service.” And what of the security issues there? “Dealing with terrorists is a bit like the story of the antelope and the lion,” Boyo began. “Both need to survive. The question is how? The antelope has learned he just needs to run faster than the lion.”

With his engaging style, Boyo was able to pique attendees’ enthusiasm for Africa with additional reality of that region today. “Africa is improving facilities, with more cooperation at government levels, including the upgrading of security at all airports. Access control, screening and bag searches are almost 100 percent. Vulnerability for U.S. citizens is quite high, however. There is concern about abduction and willful attacks. Business aviation does pose a vulnerable target, and a collective review of security issues is mandatory.”

Although massive efforts in Africa are under way to improve infrastructure, Western crews might still find the first trip eye-opening. “We still have unreliable power supplies, internal conflicts and disputes. We also have limited health care. Yellow Fever is still in Africa. Public transportation is also limited, as are search-and-rescue capabilities and aircraft-maintenance facilities. Africa is not a group of unified countries. Fuel availability and pricing are much different there as well.”

Chisholm added, “Africa’s infrastructure is not very modern, so pilots are much more involved with separation and navigation duties. Communication is the worst I’ve seen anywhere I’ve traveled. Overflight permits are critical to have in the cockpit and easily accessible. We were challenged several times on recent flights. Of course, we also had to avoid overflying Libya and Angola. The good news, though, is that the services on the ground in Africa were quite good, possibly because they handle so many airliners in that region.”

Boyo claims there have been tremendous efforts to improve ATC operations in Africa, including better communications, weather reporting and search-and-rescue efforts. There is still extremely limited radar coverage in Africa. Boyo reminded pilots, “NDB approaches are still very common here. Always be prepared to fly the full approach. And be prepared almost anywhere for incursions by people and animals. But Africa is awake now to its responsibilities to business aviation.”

Who’s in Charge?

An interesting discussion during the conference concerned ATC in the Eastern Mediterranean and traffic routed near Cyprus, where there is the eternal squabbling between the Greeks and the Turks about who runs the airspace. Flight crews essentially handle their own handoffs between ATC facilities in this region since the two governments’ controllers do not speak to one another. Despite the bickering, Nicosia seems to be in charge.

GE’s Chisholm explains the practical side of the dispute: “The Turks will not hand you off and might not have told anyone along that southern route that you’re even coming if you’re headed toward Lebanon, for example. The Turks will tell you to contact Beirut in the appropriate place, but leave out the part about calling Nicosia. Next thing you know, you’re being admonished for flying through a piece of airspace without permission. Hard en route discipline is important. Have the chart out where you can read it and study it well, before you need it.”

Reroutes in the Middle East are common, so carry plenty of fuel. Have the flight-plan page pulled up on the FMS and verify new routes because crews report they often receive routings that never link up with their flight-planned routes. And remember that, except for Israel and Iraq, this region is now entirely RVSM. Europe also now includes a requirement for follow-on RVSM monitoring every two years.

The Issue Once Known as Cabotage

“Whenever we see a restriction to aircraft movement somewhere in the world, we call it cabotage. But it really is not so,” said Dave Stohr, president of Air Training International. Stohr believes the topic is actually the free movement of aircraft. “It really doesn’t matter how various foreign governments define cabotage. It only matters how the guy who meets your airplane defines it.”

Stohr said, “Every country owns its own airspace and can run it any way it wants.” But if you’re headed to Cuba, for example, you’ll need an export license in addition to everything else. For that, you should begin a trip with the information services of the FAA, the State Department, the Treasury and the Department of Commerce. “When you want to know the rules of a country in terms of free movement, it’s all spelled out in that country’s customs regulations,” Stohr said. In China, you may be able to carry people within China, but the cost is probably much more than it would cost to hire a Chinese air taxi for the work. But then, that’s the point.

To Your Health

Doug Mykol, president of AirCare Solutions Group, offered suggestions on health issues in an era of increasingly lengthy flights in business aircraft. “We’re operating for long periods in close quarters and it is important for the flight crew to understand the human-factor issues they’ll be dealing with. I recommend a crew checklist for health issues. Ask if passengers have had any recent illnesses or surgeries. Even after laparoscopic surgeries, passengers should not fly for three weeks. Are they taking any medications? Encourage everyone to get up and walk around and drink plenty of liquids to fight the dry air at altitude and the rigors of flight. A rule of thumb is that if a passenger is having any sort of difficulty at base altitude, the problems will only become worse at altitude.”

Mykol reminded people that during times of high stress, the first thing to disappear can be the memory of necessary emergency procedures, such as for a fire. “The key is to expose the fire with a crash axe. Wreck the interior if you must to be certain the fire is out. Many fire extinguishers don’t have hoses attached, making it more difficult to concentrate the agent at the base of the fire. Consider installing ports in hard-to-get-to cabin areas that can carry the extinguishing agent to the blaze. Never turn your back on a fire.”

Smoke hoods are another solid defense against a fire, but not all hoods are created equal. “While some hoods are more effective, they can be very difficult to put on in times of stress such as a fire.” Mykol also cautioned people about hood storage: “Don’t hide the hoods in the galley. You’ll never reach them in time if you need them.”

Dr. Mike Bell, from the Centers for Disease Control, defined an infection thus: “When an organism invades a host and causes some form of tissue damage.” New diseases are often old diseases that have simply begun acting differently. There are, surprisingly, an incredibly large number of factors that must all come together at just the right time to transmit a disease. “The organism must leave the original host, survive transit, be delivered to a susceptible host, reach a susceptible part of that host’s body, escape the host’s defenses and then multiply to cause tissue damage. Most highly transmissible diseases are actually quite fragile, however. Simple soap and warm water will go a long way toward combating them.”

Multi-drug-resistant TB is an example of a slow-growing organism that often evades treatment because a patient did not completely finish an antibiotic treatment. In some third-world countries, this requires fighting the disease with two or three different antibiotics at the same time, something that is expensive and near impossible, hence the spread of the illness there. When moving from one region of the world to another, be prepared to bring cleaning supplies with you.

On long flights, a number of easy and inexpensive precautions against apparent disease transmission exist, such as carrying paper masks, cleaning equipment and waste-handling supplies such as gloves. If a potentially infectious passenger begins coughing, isolate him to the far reaches of the cabin and put a mask on him if necessary.

Safety Assessments

Better known to U.S. pilots as a ramp check, the safety assessment of foreign aircraft (SAFA) is becoming more prevalent in the European Union. IOC chairman Roger Rose said these checks are much like those of the FAA and might incorporate a number of interpretations of the regulations.

The standard SAFA includes some 54 items related to operations, maintenance, passengers and cargo requirements. Rose said some recent SAFA hot buttons include type-rated copilots, first-class medicals for entire cockpit crews and PIC/ SIC checks within 12 months. The authorities behind SAFA do not recognize a 24-month check option. Rose said there is a new EU SAFA document in the works and reminds pilots, “It will only take longer if you struggle. A good attitude goes a long way. They really are no worse than an FAA ramp check if all the documents are in order.”

Rose offered a recent SAFA as told by the PIC: “It was such a nice day in Samedan (LSZS) last Sunday that the Swiss Aviation Authority decided to conduct ramp checks. I flew in empty from Zurich to pick up passengers to fly to London Luton in our GIV. I arrived about three hours before scheduled departure. Upon arrival, customs approached the aircraft and were uninterested when told we had no inbound passengers. Next, two guys introduced themselves as Swiss Aviation Authority inspectors and said they would like to conduct a ramp check. One inspector was a maintenance specialist and the other specialized in operations.

“My colleague worked with the maintenance guy and all was in order. Maintenance highlights were all the stuff you should have, and they checked everything and then some. Maintenance release, MEL, discrepancies and/or deferred items, placards, inspection tags (fire extinguishers, life vest/rafts, first-aid/medical kits and so on). Very thorough inspection inside and out.

“The operations inspector gave an equally thorough inspection. Going right down his checklist, beginning with all normal documents, license, medical, registration, airworthiness, noise certificate, insurance and radio-station license. My medical states I must have near-vision corrective glasses available. He wanted to see my spare set of glasses. Cockpit inspection was to check O2 mask and pressure, smoke goggles (specifically wanted to see if the common crack at the bridge of the nose was there) and smoke hood. Most recent Jeppesen update log and nav database revision.

“Next I was asked to show my preflight planning. I filed my flight plan online with Global and had them fax me a copy and the Eurocontrol acknowledgment with weather, including international notams. The only thing he nicked me on was that my flight plan (GDC) had used the default IG suffix for flight rules and type of flight.
Samedan being VFR only, we should have filed as Y (IFR/VFR) inbound and Z (VFR/ IFR) outbound. He was cool about it and said that this is really an issue that the Swiss have with Eurocontrol. In fact, when I refiled to correct this, Global understood what I was talking about. However, when they sent a change message to Brussels, they didn’t know what we were asking for. Global had to call and explain before it was sorted out. Luckily, I had purchased a Swiss airspace VFR chart.

“Weight-and-balance, along with performance, was also addressed at length. I had run weight-and-balance on a program I created on my laptop that is in the same format as Gulfstream’s. I powered up the laptop and showed him this, along with Ultra-Nav data showing second-segment net-climb gradient. He was impressed. I would recommend Ultra-Nav for everyone at any price based on this experience.

“After about an hour-and-a-half, all was in order. Their departing comment was that we were the best that they had seen in their two days of checks at Samedan.”
While much media coverage often focuses on North Atlantic routes for business aviation, traffic in the NOPAC and CENPAC regions of the Pacific is also on the rise. And as traffic continues to rise in this region, the inadequacies of the current ATC system become more apparent. That’s why in 1991 ICAO approved the development of the communications, navigation, surveillance and air traffic management (CNS/ATM) and global air navigation system.

WAAS Clones

One part of the new system, the multi-functional transport satellite (MTSAT) funded by the Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau, combines a GPS and aeronautical communication satellite designed to improve the reliability, safety and capacity of air traffic operations in the North and Central Pacific. Improved communications is certainly an important element since weather, flight plan and notam data will be input directly to the onboard FMS.

A second and even more valuable aspect of MTSAT, however, is the ability to display real-time aircraft-position data. Using an automatic dependent surveillance (ADS) system, the oceanic ATC displays will take on a pseudo-radar display look, with positioning information measured by GPS. Experts consider this tool to be mandatory in the search for additional Pacific capacity. MTSAT will also function as a wide-area augmentation system for GPS.

The first MTSAT satellite was lost in a launch accident last year, but the Japanese government will soon launch a replacement to get the system up and running. A second backup MTSAT was expected to be launched late this year. The new date for the second satellite launch has not yet been announced.


The motivation behind controller pilot datalink communications (CPDLC) is to reduce frequency congestion while improving the speed at which ATC instructions are fed to the cockpit. Another byproduct is a reduction in readback errors, with an increase in overall safety. The key is to communicate the data from the aircraft and not from the pilot.

Although CPDLC has become little more than an item on a long FAA wish list, other regions cherish the system. CPDLC is, in fact, in the process of being implemented in the North Atlantic and Pacific regions. About 65 percent of oceanic traffic, mostly airline and not business aviation, uses data communications. At last year’s IOC, pilots asked when they too could expect such equipment. The manufacturers then replied they’d had no requests for it, so they were not then prepared to offer it. Currently, there is still no complete datalink system in existence for a business aviation airplane, although Rockwell Collins and Honeywell appear to be on the verge of offering a package.

Reed Sladen, a former Oakland Center controller and now an airspace-development manager with the FAA, spoke about CPDLC and asked what would happen if business aviation were not allowed to fly in these soon to be rejuvenated airspace areas, such as the Pacific, because of lack of required equipment. He spoke of the groups he’d worked with on his development projects: airline pilots, other controllers, service providers and Boeing and Airbus. Then he mentioned business aviation. “No one on the implementation level of this Pacific airspace even knows about NBAA or what they might want. I just learned about NBAA two weeks ago.” Jaws dropped. “NBAA needs to be involved in the collaborative effort on this,” Sladen said. NATS’ Lacey said, “It’s important that the right people are introduced to business aviation. Who makes the decisions on technical matters? Who chases progress? Who is there to provide the single voice for business aviation?”

Aircraft not equipped for CPDLC by next year might begin to see exclusionary routes or altitudes appear. Pat Dunn, IOC vice chairman and an international captain for Motorola, asked, “When will exclusionary airspace begin and how? Thirty percent of the people here have probably never even heard anything about this topic, while another 30 percent probably don’t know what to do next. We had to respond to RVSM, but what else should we be responding to right now that we are not?”

North Atlantic Satcom
“The number-one question I hear is, ‘When are we going to get off HF?’” said Stohr. Three-and-a-half years ago, I suggested using satcom for some ATC communications and people laughed at me.” Now, an ICAO-sponsored test of satcom is under way. And, most important, it is focused on business aviation. No airlines as yet are participating because the satphone lines at the oceanic centers are limited. Initially, satcom will be used only for position reporting, although Stohr said a successful test could well lead to other things until CPDLC is up and running.

This new test began on April 15 but is actually not the first time satcom has been tried for this type of communication. “They tried a test in the Santa Maria and Reykjavik area and said no one used it. Then I told them that might be because there are not many business aircraft in those areas.”

A few guidelines on the test: if you get a busy signal or no one answers the telephone, use HF to get through. “But we also need a report of the communications difficulty to keep the system operating properly or no one will use it,” Stohr added. “And we need pilots to use this.” Pilots will have five minutes past their ETA to pass a position report. If they miss the ETA by 10 minutes they’re considered overdue. This test will not absolve crews from the standard HF check, however. If ATC wants to communicate with the aircraft, it will use HF. This test will also be open to Iridium-equipped aircraft. Don’t plan on trying to use AFIS for this test, though. AFIS messages are passed through a third party that is not ATC focused, and there is no firm delivery time set, which makes this system unacceptable.

“But be patient,” Stohr said. “Things don’t happen quickly in ICAO. Remember the saying that a rolling stone gathers no moss? Well, an ICAO stone has so much moss that you can’t tell it’s a stone.”


Just when U.S. pilots have begun settling in with RVSM, the European community has taken yet another step to improve the precision of ATC operations in its limited-airspace environment. Precision Rnav (PRnav) is coming to Europe. “One U.S. pilot said his FSDO had no idea what PRnav even stood for. PRnav is already required for some Rnav SIDs at Helsinki.

PRnav is actually nothing more than a form of RNP, a topic some U.S. pilots are still struggling to understand. PRnav is literally RNP-1, which means required navigational performance plus or minus one mile 95 percent of the time on any route. European PRnav is expected to become effective in November.

If you’re not familiar with PANSOPS and Stohr’s presentation at the IOC, this session alone could be worth the trip. PANSOPS is essentially the rule set for instrument flying procedures in most of the world outside a few places such as the U.S., South Korea and Mexico. To a pilot, this means that flying an instrument approach in Nigeria is different from flying one into Little Rock, Ark. In a PANSOPS country, everything–SIDs, Stars and approach plates–are designed to PANSOPS standards.

PANSOPS, ICAO publication 8168, Volume 2, is somewhat like U.S. TERPS and explains the development process for IFR procedures. Volume 1 is for pilots. Stohr said, “If you fly a PANSOPS procedure like a U.S. approach, you can get lucky and nothing happens, you might get fined or you could become a CFIT statistic.” Only the small PANSOPS tag on the bottom left corner of the Jeppesen charts or the ATC section of Jeppesen can confirm the fact. Pilots must also be aware that the FMS boxes normally do not conform to PANSOPS.

On a U.S.-designed SID, the procedure begins over the end of the runway. In PANSOPS, it begins 16 feet above the end of the clearway, if one exists. PANSOPS procedures do not mention obstacles even close to the departure path because they are not required to. It is simply the pilot’s task to make the climb gradient, which in PANSOPS works out to be about 3.3-percent net, or 60 meters per nautical mile. On these departures, there is never a level flight segment under PANSOPS, so single-engine flight planning in an area of significant obstacles is a must. U.S. FAR Part 25 is based upon a 2.4-percent gross climb gradient and 1.6-percent net, so simply diving into the aircraft’s certification data is almost useless for staying clear of the cumulogranite.

Under PANSOPS, the visual circling area on approaches is larger too, which at first glance seems like a great thing. But upon reaching the edge of the circling area, the protected zone does not simply decrease as it does in the U.S.; it drops to zero, so understanding that protected airspace is critical.

A few final PANSOPS facts: operations are all based on track, not heading, meaning the pilot must apply the wind correction angle. On course is defined as no more than a one-dot deflection anywhere. On a parallel approach entry, pilots are obliged to reintercept the final approach course. You may not proceed direct to the fix when turning back inbound. “Can you be certain the FMS will fly these PANSOPS approaches 100 percent of the time?” asked Stohr? “No! So watch your airplane and review the entire approach sequencing before the approach begins.”

Polar Routes
Routing out of the U.S. and Europe over the North Pole is relatively new for corporate aircraft. The airlines (United, for example) have been flying the route in 747-400s for four years, though. Service also began in 2002 after ETOPS certification of the 777. The benefits for the airlines include slicing more than an hour off the total nonstop flying time between Chicago and Hong Kong, which allows increased fuel load and payload. Turbulence is also considerably less because of the position of the jet stream’s position.

Business aviation is just now beginning to look at such routes, but the jury is still out. At high latitudes, outside air temperatures can freeze fuel in the tanks. In most corporate aircraft, the only solution to this hazard is to increase airspeed or seek warmer air.

There are currently four polar routes that run from North America to the Far East. ATC communications along the routes are generally good throughout the Polar region, including along the Russian airways. Satcom works only up through 82 degrees N on either side of the pole, where HF becomes the only usable communications.

If your company can knock off an hour or more by going polar, the better question would be why not. One reason for certain is that if a problem develops up north, emergency landing airports are few and far between. Some that are usable as landing spots might have no lodging, food, water or medical facilities. Additionally, they might not offer protection from the elements or a way to service a broken airplane. And some of these airports above 80 degrees N could be as much as two hours distant from the planned route. An aircraft going down in that area is in severe distress, where temperatures on the ground can hover around -50 or -60 degrees F. Solar storms can also disrupt operations.

While the payoff for an airline on daily runs to the Far East is clear, the long-term payoff for a corporate aviation department measured against the risks of the region are not quite so apparent.

Was the IOC Worth it?
Dale Alexander from Kellogg said, “We fly two Falcon 900s and have been in the international arena for many years, so naturally much of the IOC program is a review, but there’s always something new to pick up. From our perspective, the most important topics in the brave new world in which we operate now are security, airspace changes, European customs procedures and required equipment to meet the coming airspace and communication challenges. All in all, an excellent meeting.”

“The real-world experiences that were shared for various regions of the world were invaluable,” said GM’s Cushman. “The various presentations of Stohr were nothing short of excellent. I heard several people say it was the best IOC conference they had attended. It was well worth the time and expense,” Cushman added.

Kodak’s Jackson said, “My benefit comes from reports about European ramp checks and new RVSM requirements. The biggest benefit as far as I am concerned is the networking. As for getting the lowdown on places we are going to go, you cannot beat talking to someone who was just there. This is a huge benefit of the IOC.”
The 2005 International Operators Conference will be held at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs next March.     

Kodak’s Jackson said, “My benefit comes from reports about European ramp checks and new RVSM requirements. The biggest benefit as far as I am concerned is the networking. As for getting the lowdown on places we are going to go, you cannot beat talking to someone who was just there. This is a huge benefit of the IOC.”

The 2005 International Operators Conference will be held at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs next March.   

A Man with a Vision for Bizav in Africa

Think millions of square miles of undeveloped business opportunities, and China is usually the first region that comes to mind. This is not surprising with a population of 1.2 billion people and a growing technology and manufacturing base. The business aircraft population in China now numbers 25.

Like China, the African continent began to emerge as a potential resource well over 10 years ago, but still ranks as only a distant possibility to many Western companies. Before 1993, business aviation had little or no role in African business. The corporate aircraft population in Africa now numbers approximately 200, mostly turbine-powered. The increase in business aircraft usage there is not simply the result of luck or evolution. It’s because of the hard work of people such as Edward Boyo, managing director of Landover Aviation in Lagos, Nigeria, a company that has grown to 500 employees over the past 10 years and is well known to Air Routing, Base Ops and Universal as their African handling company of choice.

When Boyo learned to fly in 1976, Africa was a vast wasteland, a continent rocked by revolution and famine that most Western countries had written off as interesting but seldom commercially viable, no more than the loosest conglomeration of nationalist regimes, with little concern for their neighbors. With support from the U.S. and the European Union, that attitude began to change 10 years ago.

By the late 1980s, after flying professionally throughout Europe for several years, Boyo longed to return to Africa, a place he calls “the last undiscovered territory.” But Boyo sees this as the time of an African reawakening, a time when “we must look inwardly to the people of Africa to find the skill sets that will help this continent rise within the world community.”

Boyo believes that, like Africa, Landover is greater than the sum of its parts. The company also manages a travel service, a travel training company, a contract ATC business, a professional aviation products division, an oil-rig helicopter safety training company and a publishing network. Landover publishes Aviation and Allied Business Africa, a magazine that has 7,000 subscribers. Last September, Landover accepted delivery of three Raytheon Beech 1900Ds to initiate scheduled air and charter service in West Africa.

To help spur the growth of aviation in Africa, Boyo has been instrumental in organizing the Aviation and Allied Business Leadership Conference in Kenya, to be held next month. The keynote speaker will be ICAO secretary general Taïeb Chérif, a man who sees Africa as a continent that aviation will help propel into the new millennium, according to Boyo. “Africa is finally beginning to see its neighbors as potential business partners rather than rivals. There is now a growing awareness of the benefit, security, flexibility and comfort of business aviation in Africa.”

Security is still a huge concern for most Western aviation departments. “We know we cannot let African aviation security founder, or it will leave a huge hole in the world’s security net,” Boyo acknowledged. “Then we will all pay the price. African governments have made vast efforts to improve airport security thanks to the support of the EU and U.S.”

Ten years ago, Boyo understood that “management is the art of getting things done through other people.” He said there has been much informal support from NBAA members for the development of a pan-Africa business aviation association. Although formal support for the group is surely there for the asking, he does not want to rush development. “We are still two to three years away on this issue.”

Boyo’s eldest daughter–one of four–wants to learn to fly. “There are only a handful of women pilots on the African continent,” Boyo said. “There is a huge cultural division against women here.” But if Boyo’s daughter has garnered even a small part of her father’s passion for their continent, she just might be the vanguard of another new generation of African aviation entrepreneurs in a place Boyo senior has labeled “the last frontier.”