This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
Large aircraft operators engaged in ongoing humanitarian efforts are running into an unexpected constraint in missions to China as they trigger requirements for CCAR-129 foreign operations approvals, UAS International Trip Support is cautioning. The company has received a “huge increase” in requests for help for CCAR-129 certification, which traditionally has been a complex and lengthy process.
Chinese authorities require such certification for foreign operators of 29 seats or more who fly more than 10 missions to the nation within a 12-month period. CCAR-129 requirements apply to both scheduled and nonscheduled passenger and cargo operations.
While the requirements for such approval are not new, many operators who in past have not needed such approvals have found that they do now as they rack up trips to collect medical and other humanitarian supplies in China during the Covid-19 pandemic, Carlos Schattenkirchner, UAS regional director for China, told AIN.
Many operators with mixed fleets are using their larger VVIP aircraft, such as BBJs, to pick up supplies but have been unaware of the CCAR-129 threshold, Schattenkirchner said, noting this has come as a surprise to a number of operators. They have been unable to receive clearance from those flights until they come into compliance.
In addition to the bureaucracy necessary for approval, the requirements become problematic because these missions are often under significant time pressures, he said.
However, Chinese authorities have recognized the issues surrounding these missions and are trying to expedite the process, he added. CCAR-129 approval can take between 60 to 90 working days. But, for certain humanitarian missions, the process has been streamlined and whittled down to about 14 days.
Even so, 14 days can represent a lengthy wait, depending on the mission. Operators have been forced to reschedule missions or reset their timeline, Schattenkirchner said. For some, the missions have not yet triggered the requirements, but operators might bump up against them in the months ahead.
UAS International Trip Support has been advising clients of these requirements. “Business aviation operators currently operating humanitarian and cargo flights to China may urgently require a CCAR-129 approval to ensure their missions stay on schedule,” Schattenkirchner said.