Four Questions to Help Make Researching Regulations Less Painful

Odds are good that you chose a career in business aviation to avoid the pain of a desk job, or because of your fascination with the science or engineering of flight, or to pursue a passion to move among the clouds. Definitely not to research regulations all day. Yet you’d be hard-pressed to find anindustry with more regulations than aviation. And, it’s your job to stay on top of them. Which is why, when you’ve got a trip scheduled to a foreign land, you may opt for the path of least resistance when it comes to double-checking operating requirements, updating yourself on aviation regulations and scrutinizing the latest customs procedures.

And why not? Everything’s on the Internet, aviation regulations don’t often vary, and if you’re smart enough to operate one of most complex machines created by man, you can navigate Google without breaking a sweat. Unfortunately, most of the pain that comes from not knowing regulations can be traced back to the moment you decided an Internet search was enough.

Seek the Right Questions, Not the Right Answers

Have you ever been in an argument that stalls out with this exchange?

Person #1: “You never told me!”

Person #2: “Well, you never asked!”

Getting the right information begins with asking the right questions. These four questions should help guide your research and optimize the time you spend studying up on the latest rules.

 1.  What Aren’t the Regulations Telling Me?

“Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.” This advice from Benjamin Franklin could serve you well when researching regulations. Here’s what you might miss unless you dig a bit deeper:

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  • Nuances and Interpretations—While knowing the “letter of the law” is fairly straightforward, the “spirit of the law” often traps the unknowing. Don’t just know what the regulation says, understand what the governing body was trying to accomplish when they created it and how strictly they enforce it.
  • Narrow Focus—A classic example of this is the distinction between “business” and “commercial” aviation in Europe. Those terms mean different things in the U.S. and the definitions for each may not be spelled out in a relevant set of regulations for the moment. However, they may be made very clear definition in a different part of the code. Look beyond the regulation you need to make sure you’re getting the full story.
  • Rule Change Lag—By the time a regulation is officially updated, published, distributed and a search engine finally finds it, it may be too late. Unless updates are clearly labeled and fairly recent, a quick phone call or email now can save you a lot of time, money and red tape later. 

2.  Have I Confirmed/Consulted With Trusted Secondary Sources?

Your favorite search engine is a great place to start research, but it’s just that—a start. Use it to figure out possible resources, to explore the nuances and issues around an upcoming trip and even to find new questions that you should explore. But when you’re looking for the last word, the folks below are truly in the know and happy to answer questions:

  • Local Handlers—They not only know which regulations have changed, but they can tell you how strictly they’re being enforced, how to prepare for them and how they can help you once you arrive.
  • NBAA—A recognized global leader in business aviation, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) can provide online resources, individual coaching and even seminars/webinars on topics where ongoing and in-depth knowledge will be key.
  • FAA—As the source for all things aviation in the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can also help with its sister agencies (like EASA), clarify how to get into/out of the country, determine if you have the right permits/certificates and identify key issues you might be facing around the planet.
  • U.S. Department of State—More commonly known as the state department, this government agency is tasked with having its finger on the pulse of the planet. They may not be able to offer much in terms of aviation regulations, but they can provide up to the minute advice on customs, VISAs, and shifting geo-political tides. All of which will impact your next global trip.
  • EASA—With more than half of all U.S. international business aviation traffic heading to Europe, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), and the regulations it’s responsible for, might be as valuable a resource to you as the FAA.
  • Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP)—Every civil aviation authority affiliated with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is charged with creating an Aeronautical Information Publication. Typically broken into three parts, (GEN) general, (ENR) enroute and (AD) aerodromes, AIPs contain “information of a lasting character” for air navigation in a particular region.

3.  Where Are the Little Things Hiding?

When researching the potentially big issues of your next flight, don’t let the little things fall through the cracks. Be sure to confirm the simple things like:

-Clearance Lead Times

-Required Permits

-Late Passenger or Mechanical Delay Procedures

-Catering, Fuel and Other Ground Support

4.  What I Don’t Know?

While it’s not official, calls to Jeppesen’s International Trip Planning Service (ITPS) department would indicate that operators should pay special attention in these areas:

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  • Importation—It’s a complex topic that changes from country to country. Many will let you verbally declare temporary importation on the ramp. Others want paperwork; still others are looking for fees. Be sure you know the expectations at every stop.
  • TSA Requirements—Operators flying U.S.-based aircraft may move in and out of the country with ease. But if you’re entering the U.S. from a foreign country your level of understanding about the varying requirements based on your aircraft’s country of registry, MTOW, number of stops in the U.S., etc. will make a big difference in how easily you get a TSA waiver.
  • Requirements of Foreign Operators—Requirements for foreign operators seems to one of the most widely changing regulatory categories. What’s more, these changing regulations seem to be keeping the fine coffers full. This is one area where the criteria that applied last year may not this year. A double-check here will be time well spent.
  • Cabotage—Rules are interpreted differently from country to country. Things can get confusing quickly as you, a foreign operator, are accounting for the passengers you’re moving within the country and out of the country (especially with inevitable last-minute additions to the passenger list). What’s more, authorities are cracking down on the transport of children, which only adds to the possible issues and paperwork required for compliant cabotage. Take the extra time to make sure you understand the cabotage practices wherever you’re flying.

Research Now. Save Later.

While there’s no data to support this, it seems that most government entities aren’t looking to be a thorn in the side of business aviation. They understand the economic importance of business aviation to their country. Do they want you to show respect and follow their rules? Absolutely. Reminders, through the levying of a fine, are the norm. However, stray too far from the rules, or claim ignorance, and fines quickly move into the severe category. In some extreme cases, not following the rules can land you in jail.

 If these tips don’t have you feeling better about the value of thorough research of the regulations impacting your next trip, there is an alternative. Jeppesen’s International Flight Planning Service (ITPS) helps international flight operators avoid the unforeseen. Our professionals are well versed in global aviation regulations because they work with the regulators who create them, the operators who use them, and the ground handlers who are impacted by them everyday. It’s what they do best. And, when you partner with Jeppesen’s ITPS, you’re now free to do what you do best. Learn more about Jeppesen ITPS by clicking here or calling (800) 553-7750. 


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