The 45.5T Elephant in the Security Room



What do 9 African elephants and a G700 have in common?

They both weigh over 45,500 kilograms.

And that’s the weight threshold you need to know about if you’re planning on heading to the UK anytime soon…

Something around this kinda size.


There are some rules about security screening for heavy jets! Here’s how it works:

  • Any outbound public transport (charter, scheduled or commercial) flight on an aircraft over 10 tonnes (22,000 lbs) MTOW needs to be security screened
  • All aircraft (including private flights) with a MTOW over 45.5 tonnes needs screening.

And remember – the MTOW is what it says in your aircraft manual. We ain’t talking the weight on the day.

What does ‘Security Screening’ mean?

Here is a link to the EU regulation.

Yep, it’s an EU regulation but this is basically what still applies in the UK as well.

Why do they have this regulation? It is all about making sure people and their stuff are protected.

So “acts of unlawful interference with civil aircraft that jeopardise the security of civil aviation should be prevented by establishing common rules for safeguarding civil aviation. This objective should be achieved by setting common rules and common basic standards on aviation security as well as mechanisms for monitoring compliance.”

The common rules it speaks of are the screening of luggage, people, checking nothing is hidden on the aircraft, etc.


And why that particular MTOW? Why not something like number of seats?

No one knows (i.e. someone probably knows, but we don’t know).

If YOU know then email us at We can’t stop wondering now.

It is the certified MTOW that matters!

Why are we talking about it?

Well, there has been some confusion at some UK airports, particularly for Part 91 folk. And there has been some disruption at some UK airports with operators experiencing lengthy delays.

One member reported having to adjust their departure date and time by nearly 4 days…

There are actually two things worth highlighting:

First of all, specifically in the UK, there are continuing staff shortages and this can mean delays in security screening availability. Airline operators are always prioritised which means you might experience delays, and you might even find flights cannot be accommodated.

The solution?

  • Book in advance and use a handling agent – preferably the main FBO for an airport. They are generally very helpful folk who want to help as much as possible (and can help deal with the airport authorities).
  • Don’t make last minute schedule changes and expect them to be able to leap in and immediately do a security screening for you.
  • Head to dedicated BA/GA airports when you can. Somewhere like EGLF/Farnborough is going to be able to accommodate you more easily than the likes of EGLL/Heathrow (although even EGLF told us requests with less than 4 hours would be difficult on busy days).
  • Avoid operating into larger airports at peak times (when the scheduled folk are heading in and out).
  • Have a backup plan airport – if your agent is telling you it is going to be tough to accommodate you and you know you cannot delay your departure, then fly somewhere else that can!

UK rules aren’t exactly the same as US. 

In the US the regulation applies to Part 121, 135 etc. Not necessarily part 91 though. In the UK it applies to anyone and everyone. If your MTOW is over 45.5 tonnes (100,309 lbs) then you’re going to need a security screening.

Here is a link to the NBAA’s handy article about the US side of things.

Anything else?

Here is a link to the UK Gov travel guide site.

You can find things on all topics from hand luggage restrictions to everything else on here so a good spot to head to if you want more info on the specifics (although we reckon just ask a handling agent at the airport you are heading to!).


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