Category: Briefings (page 1 of 29)

The Impact of Space-Based ADS-B on International Operations

I can distinctly remember the build up to and roll out of GPS navigations systems. Like so many of us, I was excited to see this new technology integrated into my cockpit. The idea that I would have the capability to accurately determine my position anywhere in the world was exciting!

It’s hard to overstate the significance of GPS navigation on the international operation of aircraft, particularly when operating in oceanic airspace. Today we are about to reach a similar milestone that could be even more significant – the introduction of a Space-Based Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (SB ADS-B) monitoring system.

When SB ADS-B completes its deployment (scheduled 30 December 2018), we will achieve worldwide, pole-to-pole surveillance of aircraft. This goes beyond a pilot knowing his or her own location. This opens up the ability for ATC to locate any ADS-B equipped aircraft anywhere in the world. With the US and EU ADS-B requirements approaching in 2020, aircraft that operate internationally will almost certainly be ADS-B equipped.

A brief history of Space-Based ADS-B

SB ADS-B technology has been placed into service by a commercial company, Aireon, and not a governmental entity, which has enabled it to be brought to operational status in a much shorter timeline than most other government implementations.

Although Aireon was initially established in 2012 to provide civilian surveillance services, the disappearance of Malaysia Flight 370 changed the industry. The inability to locate the aircraft forced industry regulators to consider how improved aircraft tracking might have helped to resolve the location of the aircraft in distress and prevent a future disaster. In response to this concern, ICAO created a standard for aircraft tracking designated as the Global Aeronautical Distress Safety System (GADSS). Aireon responded by creating a low-cost tracking solution based on aircraft ADS-B equipage utilizing the SB ADS-B network to meet that tracking requirement faster and cheaper than many of the alternatives.

This implementation takes advantage of the same ADS-B 1090ES systems already installed in most aircraft, not requiring any additional investment or modification from operators who currently comply with ICAO ADS-B approved 1090ES systems. Compare this to the evolving and evasive FANS 1/A+ requirements that have placed many operators in the position of having to upgrade aircraft (at great expense) only to find they are not PBCS and/or U.S. domestic compliant. Quite a contrast.

What are the benefits?

The primary advantage of the introduction of surveillance into oceanic operations will be a reduction in separation. Initially, this will be applied to in-trail spacing (longitudinal separation) and potentially reduce that separation to as close as 14 Nautical Miles (NM). The current longitudinal standard for data link approved aircraft is 5 minutes or approximately 50NM. The introduction would significantly increase the capacity of the most fuel-efficient routes and altitudes. The trial implementation is not expected to be restricted to specified tracks or altitudes, just between properly equipped aircraft.

Another key advantage of SB ADS-B is that the system is based on an active constellation of 66 low earth orbit satellites with geo-synchronous orbits that provide worldwide coverage. The system will also have 9 backup satellites available in orbit as well. The information on worldwide aircraft location will be in the system, it’s just a matter of having it sent to ATC control panels that are properly equipped to display the information. The SB ADS-B system operates independently from the ADS-B ground stations and can provide a direct data feed to air navigation service providers (ANSPs).

The primary targets for Aireon SB ADS-B services are ANSPs such as the FAA, EASA, Africa’s ASECNA, South Africa, New Zealand, Singapore, etc. This brings tremendous value to areas like Africa and Southeast Asia where ANSP’s face unique challenges involving infrastructure. Placing a network of ground-based ADS-B receivers in remote areas can expose them to vandalism or theft. As an example, a recently installed ILS system in Benin, Nigeria was stolen!

What does my aircraft need to be compliant?

In order for SB ADS-B separation reduction to be applied, aircraft will be required to be ADS-B and fully PBCS compliant. The controlling agency will determine eligibility based on the flight plan filing codes for ADS-B and PBCS. Let’s recall that the PBCS requires FANS 1/A+ approval with RCP240, RSP180, and RNP 4 capabilities. Just add ADS-B, NAT HLA, and RVSM equipage and approval and you’re ready! That is a lot of approvals, plus let’s not forget, TCAS Version 7.1 and Enhanced Mode S Transponder equipage is required as well.

Where will it be implemented?

Initial trial use of SB ADS-B for surveillance and separation will begin in Canada’s Edmonton Flight Information Region (FIR) in the first quarter of 2019. This will be followed by a planned trial launch in the North Atlantic (NAT) on 29 March 2019. The NAT oceanic surveillance trial program will be employed in both in Gander and Shanwick’s oceanic FIRs. Santa Maria will also introduce ADS-B separation standards, but that program will initially be limited to ground-based ADS-B operations.

We anticipate a mid-December 2018 release of a North Atlantic Ops Bulletin detailing the trial implementation which will be referred to as “Advanced Surveillance-Enhanced Procedural Separation” (ASEPS). This is to be followed by ICAO publishing the associated standards for ASEPS in a 5 November 2019 update to Procedures for Air Navigation Services – Air Traffic Management (PANS-ATM) Document 4444. This would move the ASEPS program beyond trial use and allow implementation of ASEPS based operations worldwide.

The final specifics involved in the trial program will be detailed in Canadian and United Kingdom Aeronautical Information Publications (AIPs), most likely involving a release of Aeronautical Information Circulars (AICs) to formally initiate the trial programs.

The NAT HLA does not anticipate requiring ADS-B for airspace entry but simply employing it as available. The impending U.S. and EU ADS-B requirements in 2020 will help ensure common equipage.

The introduction of ASEPS reduced separation standards in oceanic and remote regions will also impact contingency procedures for operators in the NAT HLA. To address this concern ICAO has created new contingency procedures for oceanic and remote operations which will also be identified in the November 2019 update to Procedures for Air Navigation Services – Air Traffic Management (PANS-ATM) Document 4444.

We expect the mid-December release of an additional North Atlantic Ops Bulletin detailing the trial implementation of these new contingency procedures in the NAT HLA airspace to be implemented with ASEPS. These new contingency procedures will initially only be used in the NAT HLA but, after the ICAO approval in November 2019, they may be implemented in other oceanic regions as well.

It would be important to note that the ASEPS target date for implementation, 29 March 2019, is also the target date for the expansion of the PBCS tracks in the North Atlantic Organized Track System. Add in the change in contingency procedures and that is a lot of moving parts, all happening at the same time, in the most congested oceanic airspace in the world.

One thing we don’t anticipate changing on March 2019 is strategic lateral offset procedures (SLOP). Changes may follow down the road but it’s not on the calendar now.

Let’s all get ready for a busy spring in the North Atlantic!

Mitch Launius is an International Procedures Instructor Pilot with 30West IP and can be contacted through his website: www.30westip.com

Swiss restrictions for the Davos World Economic Forum

The 2019 World Economic Forum will take place in Davos from Jan 21-26.

LSZH/Zurich along with most other airports in the area will be busy during this period. So if you’re planning on attending— or even if you’ll just be passing through—best get your slot/PPR request in as soon as possible.

LSZH/Zurich

  • Will be congested, so apply for slots early if you’re actually planning on stopping there. You might not get the slots you requested, particularly if you want to arrive/depart at peak times.
  • Earliest non-scheduled landing for a wide body aircraft without parking permission will be 1300z daily.
  • Maximum 3 hour ground time for general aviation without parking permission (so drop-and-go’s are fine, as long as they stay within that 3 hour window).
  • You will not be able to use LSZH as an alternate to flights going to LSZS/Samedan.
  • Airport operates from 0500-2100z daily, and overtime is not available – make sure you land before closing time or you’ll get diverted to another airport.
  • Repositioning from LSZH to LSMD will not be allowed; the aircraft would have to land and depart directly from LSMD.

LSMD/Dubendorf

  • Located in downtown Zurich. Normally a military airfield, but opens to civilian traffic each year for the Forum.
  • Open 0600-2000z weekdays, and 0800-1900z on Saturday, closed on Sundays, with no overtime available.
  • Should have lots of parking available.
  • Slots not required, but PPR is required.
  • Customs clearance is provided in the military terminal building.
  • For handling, email the airport handler direct on: aircraft.handling@topmotion.ch
  • The airport publishes a special ‘Air Crew Guide’ for any aircraft coming there during the Forum week each year. Bunch of info about the airport and approaches, etc.

EDNY/Friedrichshafen

  • Open 0500-2100z weekdays, and 0800-1900z on weekends, with overtime available on request.
  • No slot or PPR requirements.
  • Parking not usually a problem during the week of the Forum.
  • Be aware as this airport is in Germany, fuel will generally be more expensive as the taxes are higher here.

Permits

Landing permits are not required for private GA flights to Switzerland. You’ll only need a landing permit if you’re operating a charter flight on an aircraft not registered in the EU. For that, email the authorities direct at: trafficrights@bazl.admin.ch

Fuel

No supply issues expected at any of the airports, just expect the normal congestion-related delays with getting a fuel truck out to you on day of departure. For charter flights departing from Switzerland, you can uplift fuel tax free – but bear in mind that taxes will become due and payable if you do not then leave the country within 24 hours.

Can you track your aircraft every 15 minutes?

New ICAO requirements on aircraft tracking came into force on Nov 8. Large aircraft (over MTOW 45,500kg and with more than 19 seats) must now track their position every 15 minutes – down from the previously required 60 minutes. The tracking needs to take place in all regions where the local ATS gets position information at greater than 15 minute intervals. If you want to get into it, you can find it in ICAO SARPS, Annex 6,  Part I,  Section 3.5.

This requirement is part of ICAO’s “Global Tracking Initiative”, which came about shortly after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in March 2014.

When to track?

If your aircraft is outside range of radar, oceanic waters, remote areas, (anywhere that the ATS doesn’t get a position report in less than 15 minute intervals) you can count on needing to obtain and record your own position reports every 15 minutes (or less).

Where are these areas? ICAO is keeping a database to show where you’re going to need to make your own 15 minute records (it’s not the best tool at the moment):

click to open tool on ICAO site

How to track?

The important part of this: it must all be done automatically. You can’t just set a timer and manually record a position report. ICAO doesn’t have a preferred method for this, just as long as it’s automatic (use your ADS-B, GPS tracker, or a tracking service). It was important that ICAO keep this particular requirement in line with equipment and capabilities currently available.

Who’s watching?

ICAO has told us that although the new requirement is now in place, currently there is no requirement to share the data – unless it’s required for an incident.

Also, it is still yet to be seen if/how specific authorities will add this requirement into AIPs. For example, Canada has stated the below, but have yet to add any requirement into the Canadian Aviation Regulations:

Canadian air operators are reminded that they are subject to the laws and regulations of foreign jurisdictions and their respective civil aviation authorities (CAA) when abroad. Effective November 8, 2018, they may be subject to regulatory action by a CAA if they do not comply with ICAO GADSS SARPs requirements. CASA 09-2018

Will this be part of SAFA ramp checks?

No. We asked SAFA this very question, and here’s what they told us:

“For the time being we do not have any intention to request of ramp inspectors to perform an inspection of this new requirement.”

The future?

In January 2021, there will be a further requirement to tracking, called “Autonomous Distress Tracking”, which will require automatic position reports every minute when in a distress situation. This requirement will likely depend on new equipment, or depend on expansion of Space Based ADS-B.

ICAO is also populating a “Global Operational Directory” to help communication between OCCs and ANSPs. It’s not operational yet, but this will help when ANSPs and OCCs need to communicate. It’s free to participate, as long as OCCs share their information. More information for that is here.


For more reading of all the ICAO updates on Global Tracking Initiatives, head here.

Seletar launches new terminal on Nov 19

As WSSL/Seletar prepares to open its new $80 million terminal on Nov 19, the authorities have announced that WSSL is now a “schedules facilitated” airport.

Don’t panic – at least, not yet. This basically just means that because demand is now getting close to the airport’s capacity, all airline and charter flights must confirm their schedules with the airport in advance  – BA/GA flights don’t need to do this.

It does not mean that the airport has become slot coordinated, although that might happen at some point in the future if congestion continues to be a problem.

As for the new terminal, it looks like it will be a decent improvement on the old one…

The new facility – six times bigger than the old terminal – will be split in two, with one large section for airline flights, and another separate section dedicated for GA/BA.

Here’s a video of what the new terminal looks like!

The idea is to free up capacity at WSSS/Singapore by moving all scheduled turboprop flights to WSSL/Seletar when the new terminal opens. At the moment, the only airline that falls into this category is Malaysia’s Firefly – which currently operates 20 daily flights at WSSS – to and from WMSA/Subang, WMKI/Ipoh and WMKD/Kuantan.

Important to note – all BA/GA traffic must switch to using the new terminal when it opens on Nov 19 at midnight local time. Jet Aviation have provided a handy printout which tells you all you need to know about using the new terminal. Note that the new terminal is on the other side of the runway from the old terminal!

In other news, the ASEAN summit will be finishing up in Singapore tomorrow, Nov 15. At WSSS/Singapore, no GA/BA parking/slots are available until Nov 17, with no tech-stops or drop-and-go’s allowed either. At WSSL/Seletar, the airport will be closed on Nov 15 from 0830-1900 local time.

Did we miss something? Get in touch!

Further reading:

Buenos Aires airports closed to GA/BA during G20 summit

The 2018 G20 Leaders meeting will be held in Buenos Aires on November 30 and December 1, 2018. GA/BA flights will be prohibited from operating to both SAEZ/Ministro Pistarini and SABE/Jorge Newbery – but also all the smaller airport across the city as well.

AIP SUP A28/2018 goes into all of the restrictions in detail, but here are the key takeaways.

The airports…

Between 1500L on Nov 29 to 2200L on Dec 1 (1800Z Nov 29 to 0100Z Dec 2), here are the restrictions:

  • SABE/Jorge Newbery – will be totally closed to all non-G20 aircraft.
  • SAEZ/Ministro Pistarini – will only accept regular airline flights. All GA/BA flights are prohibited. RWY 17/35 will be closed and used as a taxiway and for parking only. Many SID and STARS will be suspended and a full list is in Appendix 2 of the SUP(UPDATE 22NOV: Notam A9669/18 has now been published which brings forward the start time for the ban at this airport to midnight local time on Nov 26).
  • SADP/El Palomar – closed to civil ops, although 8 slots will be made available to airlines from 1800Z-2300Z on Nov 29.
  • SADF/San FernandoSADJ/Mariano Moreno, SADM/Morón – all closed to civil ops.

So with all the Buenos Aires airports out of action for GA/BA over these dates, there aren’t a lot of other options. The closest international airports are: SAAR/Rosario to the north, SAZS/Plata Del Mar to the south, or SUMU/Montevideo – but that’s in a different country!

Bottom line – if you’re GA/BA and you need to get to Buenos Aires at the end of the month, you’ll need to make sure you go there before the G20 restrictions come into force on 1800z on Nov 29.

The airspace…

SAEF/Ezeiza FIR will see the following restrictions in place between those same timings, 1800z Nov 29 – 0100z Dec 2:

  • All users must submit a flight plan a minimum of 6 hours before estimated off blocks time.
  • All aircraft must operate on discreet transponder codes at all times.
  • An ADIZ is in place out to 250NM from EZE VOR from SFC-UNL within the FIR.
  • There will be 3 temporary restricted areas in place, BAIRES, SPY GLASS and ROJO.
  • The BAIRES airspace overlays on top of SAEZ/Ministro Pistarini  out to 55nm.
  • Expect Air Force fast jets to be patrolling and operating with ‘due regard‘ overhead during various times.

Did we miss something? Get in touch!

Canadian Ops Update

Just a short update on a few things happening in Canada that you might have missed…

Nationwide
  • There has been a change in the Maximum Indicated Airspeeds for holding patterns to bring them more in line with the rest of the world. This came into effect on 11OCT18 and will be reflected in the 08NOV18 AIP update. Refer AIC 25/18.

  • It’s been over a year and a half since NavCanada suspended it’s Climb/Descend via SID phraseology, adding a complication for pilots that regularly cross the border from USA to Canada and v.v. It initially trialed then quickly suspended them “out of concern over altitude deviations we were seeing in the system and the unforeseen large increase in workload as a result. We are continuing to communicate with airlines, aircraft operators and our employees as we revert to the phraseology rules that were in place prior to this change.​” We understand this phraseology has now been officially put in the trash and wont be returning.
CYYZ/Toronto Pearson Airport
  • There are new nighttime RNAV approaches starting in CYYZ/Toronto Pearson from 08NOV18. These RNAV (GNSS) X instrument approach procedures are for night-time ops between 0030L-0630L on runways 5/6L/6R/23/24L/24R. The procedures are designed to minimize the noise footprint. The ATIS will advertise these as the primary approach type when they are active. Pilots can expect to be cleared directly to the initial approach waypoint, then subsequently cleared for the approach including the appropriate transition. Refer AIC 28/18.

  • Slots are currently required for all flights between 0030-0630 local time. The airport authority was planning to make slots mandatory for all GA/BA flights H24 from Nov 17 onwards, but this will now be delayed to some time in early 2019. For more info, contact the Airport Reservation Office at aro@gtaa.com

Do you know more? Drop us a line!

No change to Iran airspace warning despite new US sanctions

The US reimposed sanctions against Iran on Nov 5. Despite this, so far there has been no change to the FAA guidance to US operators issued on 9th September 2018: flights to Iran are not prohibited, but operators should “exercise caution” when flying in Iranian airspace.

However, with the reimposed sanctions comes a new problem if you’re a US operator: you’re allowed to overfly Iran, but you’re not allowed to pay for all the things needed to make that happen – things like overflight permits, and nav fees.

The rule is simple: no US person or business can pay for services in countries with sanctions against them (like Iran), unless that person or business has a licence to do so, issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

And you’re not allowed to get an agent to do it for you either; it’s illegal to skirt the OFAC laws by using a 3rd party company (unless, of course, they’ve been approved by OFAC).

So the big question we have now is this: if you’re planning to overfly Iran, have you figured out the legalities of paying for services? How are you making that work? Know someone who’s got an OFAC licence for Iran? Let us know!

And one other thing to watch out for – operators with US based insurers should double-check their policies, as you may now no longer be covered for flights to Iran, due to the new sanctions. This is worth checking, even if you’re only planning on overflying the Tehran FIR, as any unplanned landing (decompression, medical, engine fire) may force you into Tehran or another airport – it’s a big chunk of airspace.

Further reading:

AYPY/Port Moresby restrictions during APEC 2018

The 2018 APEC meeting will be held in AYPY/Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on 15 and 16 November, 2018. If you’re trying to get there, here’s what you need to know…

What’s happening at the airport?

  • Parking – There may not even be enough space for all the official delegations’ aircraft, let alone anyone else, so expect parking congestion also at YBCS/Cairns and YBTL/Townsville airports. YBTL will also be used as a base by Australian military aircraft tasked with assisting the airspace security during the event; if you are heading there, make sure you read and carry the AIP SUP H99/18.
  • Night closures – Closures of the main runway (14L/32R) mean that the airport is effectively closed each night from 2100-0430 local time until 13 November.
  • Customs – if you’re actually going to AYPY during this period, you can view the APEC Customs handbook here.
  • Flight Plans – If you indicate the wrong ADS-B FLT ID (in Section 7 of your FPL) and are inbound or outbound to AYPY/Port Moresby or AYNZ/Lae Nadzab you can expect a 20 minute delay or holding (A1069/18 refers).

What’s happening in the airspace?

AIP SUPP 5/2018 outlines the airspace restrictions for APEC2018. Here are the important bits, all effective from Nov 2-20:

  • Watch out for overflights of AYPY, as there’s a 90 NM ADIZ in place around the airport from SFC-FL600.
  • There is a temporary restricted area (TRA931) 30 NM around AYPY, SFC-FL330. Anyone flying to/from AYPY with a valid flight plan and talking to ATC can enter this area.
  • There is another more restrictive area (TRA930) over the CBD and event venue. Only APEC aircraft can enter this area.
  • Actual activation times will be notified by NOTAM.
  • Expect Royal Australia Air Force FA18 fast jets to be patrolling and operating with ‘due regard‘ overhead during various times

A real life report…

Here’s a report from an Opsgroup member trying to operate to AYPY/Port Moresby for the APEC summit:

- The closest parking spot we could get for a G650 is YPDN/Darwin. We were denied parking in YBCS/Cairns; we were told parking is reserved for head of states only. YBTL/Townsville denied us parking too, on the basis of no space available.

- The handler at AYPY/Port Moresby is not very responsive at the best of times, and has been unreliable also in the past, even when no special event was going on. In the past we once even got handling confirmed for an arrival during a scheduled runway closure!

- Until Nov 30, crew/pax visas cannot be arranged upon arrival, to enhance security during the APEC event. Instead, visa requests must be made through embassies during this time. This is normally not a problem outside of special events. The PNG Embassy in London have been very quick in getting visas approved for our crew, with a maximum turn of 5 working days, and as short as 3 working days.

Some other Supplementary information if you are operating to AYPY/Port Moresby:

  • High terrain in close proximity.
  • Navaids not monitored by ATC. Standby power reported to be available. Jackson and Parer locaters no longer in operational use. Disregard any procedures that use these aids.
  • Navaids may not be accurate or serviceable. Review all available information prior to use and perform appropriate crosschecks to verify navaid integrity.
  • ATC may give inappropriate radar vectors and ALT instructions. During radar outage, ATC will provide procedural control. Maintain situation awareness to ensure safety not
    compromised. Refer to Radar Terrain Clearance Chart to cross-check altitudes.
  • RWY 14L has upslope for 3/4 of its length, then slopes downward to the RWY 32R threshold, giving the illusion that the runway is shorter than actual.
  • In gusty winds, expect windshear on approach RWY 14L.
  • T-VASIS may be unserviceable without prior warning.
  • Engine start clearance not required unless notified on ATIS.
  • POB should be given with pushback request.
  • Airway B220 is a designated two-way airway. Beware potential late-notice opposite direction traffic given close proximity to FIR boundary.
  • Short-notice deterioration of ATC services may occur. If ATC not available, revert to CTAF on tower frequency.

Did we miss something? Let us know!

Shanghai airports closed to GA/BA

Both Shanghai airports ZSSS/Shanghai and ZSPD/Pudong will be closed to GA/BA between Nov 1-13. This is due to the China International Import Expo (CIIE) that will be taking place in Shanghai from Nov 5-10.

If you’re attending the CIIE event, then you may still be able to get permission to go to ZSPD/Pudong, but you’ll need an official invitation letter from the event organisers, as well as slot and parking approval. Bear in mind that during this period Nov 1-13, the airport will only allow landings between 0700-0855 local time each day.

For non-CIIE flights wanting to go to Shanghai during this period, the options aren’t great. Drop-and-go’s will not be permitted at either ZSSS/Shanghai or ZSPD/Pudong, and parking is now almost full at nearby airports ZSHC/Hangzhou, ZSNJ/Nanjing and ZSNB/Ningbo.

Here’s the lowdown on those three airports:

ZSHC/Hangzhou
Operating hours? H24.
Does it have an FBO? Yes, but for “domestic flights only”. Weird.
Driving time to Shanghai? 2hrs 30mins (180km)
Any other restrictions? They don’t issue arrival/departure slots to GA/BA between 0700-0859 local time.

ZSNJ/Nanjing
Operating hours? H24.
Does it have an FBO? Yes.
Driving time to Shanghai? 3hrs 30mins (300km)
Any other restrictions? They don’t issue arrival/departure slots to GA/BA between 0700-0859 local time.

ZSNB/Ningbo
Operating hours? H24.
Does it have an FBO? No.
Driving time to Shanghai? 3hrs (220km) – providing you take the road over the Hangzhou Bay Bridge
Any other restrictions? Probably. But no biggies that we know of.

For more info, or to arrange handling/parking/slots arranging at any of these airports (or anywhere else in China for that matter) we think Mainland Ground Express are a pretty good agent. Get in touch with them at ops@mgel.aero

Know a secret airport somewhere near Shanghai where GA/BA can operate to during this period, relatively hassle-free? Let us know!

Pay up or else! Crew held hostage by Customs agents in Ivory Coast

“Beware all pilots traveling to Abidjan, Customs is waiting for you!”

That is the message we received in a disconcerting report this week from one of our long-time members which certainly troubled us here at OpsGroup. We thought it was important to share.

The pilot told us that he and his business jet were recently “held hostage” by airport custom officials in the port city of DIAP/Abidjan, Ivory Coast, West Africa.

The crew had all the appropriate landing and overflight permits as required. GenDec’s, passports and associated documents were also in order. Therefore, all the evidence points to a good old fashioned shakedown and a convoluted scheme setup between local Customs agents and certain ground handlers to extort bribes from foreign crew.

The report we received explains how the crew were ramp checked by Customs officials after landing. The aircraft documents were confiscated and the Captain was “interrogated until 1am” the following morning.

The officials claimed that the pilot both failed to declare their arrival, as well as the “aircraft contents, passengers and baggage.”

The fine was CFA 6,900,000,000 (yes billion!) francs, which equates to USD $12,066,720 (yes, million!)

Ay Caramba!

The offence was purported to be importing a high value item (aircraft) without customs approval. The high fine figure was “based on the insurance value of the aircraft.”

The crew were held hostage in the country for 10 days until senior Customs officials could finally agree on the appropriate “accusation” and that the associated fine was actually “legal”.

After the 10 days, the crew were able to negotiate a deal and depart safely – although not without having to involve the aircraft’s insurance underwriter, who paid a ‘substantial amount’ for the aircraft to be allowed to depart.

On reflection, the crew noted that if Customs does meet your aircraft without you arranging it in advance, “you can be sure you are about to be trapped.” They do not tell you why they are looking for documents, more specifically, your aircraft documents, and will not tell you anything as they walk away to call their seniors, carrying your documents with them.

So in short: do not let go of your documents!

The advice from our member:

  • Contact the handling agent first hand and double check that they are an approved, recognized handler and have approval from the various authorities (immigration, customs, police, anti-drug) to operate airside. Also check that they can arrange for you to get to the Customs and Immigration officers landside. Do not assume because the handler takes all your documents and gives you an invoice and receipts that the authorities have been advised of your arrival and situation.
  • The Abidjan Customs authority does not recognize a GenDec as an approved form of advice about passengers, health and cargo. They will also not sign off on the submitted GenDec. They will not come to your aircraft unless you specifically arrange for them to do so.

It’s important to stress that we are not talking about a small African airstrip in the back lots. This is a large international gateway with many major international airlines serving the city. Over 4 million people live here and it’s the economic capital of the Ivory Coast.  But corruption is endemic, it spills over every sector of the public administration; clearly even into Customs!

As Brookings put it, “for the inspector, the temptation is large because his salary is relatively small compared to the potential bribe.” It still doesn’t make it right and this experience serves a timely warning for all crew operating through the airport.

Have you been subjected to similar behavior when passing through DIAP/Abidjan? Let us know.

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