EU security rules include air charter

 - January 21, 2008, 9:17 AM

New European Union (EU) requirements have been introduced requiring most aircraft weighing more than 22,045 pounds or having more than 19 passenger seats to be subject to existing airline security standards. Only corporate or private aircraft that are not operating for hire are exempt from the rules, as are internal company training flights.

Unless further exemptions are subsequently granted, the rules cover all executive charter flights, even so-called “closed charters,” where the passengers are traveling collectively and are known to each other and to the operator. The rules apply to both domestic and international flights.

Airports and FBOs are required to isolate all aircraft covered by the requirement in restricted zones and away from any other aircraft that are not covered by the new security measures. All passengers and crew have to be screened before boarding.
The new requirement took effect on January 19, but many in Europe’s business and general aviation community seem unaware of it.

European Business Aviation Association chairman Brian Humphries told AIN that he was not aware of any notification given to aircraft operators, FBOs or airports. The group has been drafting security guidelines for business aircraft operations, though it has yet to release them.

The new EU rule leaves security arrangements for aircraft weighing less than 10 metric tons or with 19 or fewer passengers seats “at the discretion of national governments.” Williams said that, in the UK, the degree of control expected from operators will vary according to the perceived security threat at any given time. The DoT is now preparing detailed guidelines on the level of security it will require for these operations under different threat levels.

The DoT is now trying to establish a system through which airports and FBOs will be required to provide the department with contact details for all visiting and based aircraft so the agency can distribute details of security requirements. Williams acknowledged that this could prove difficult for ad hoc business aircraft movements, and conceded that the UK’s detailed guidelines as to how to implement the new EU rule may not even be finalized by this month.