Did you ever apply for overflight and landing permits and got rejected? This is probably because the process of application is quite complicated. This guide is presented by iJET to make you understand the requirements of processing flight permits.
What Are Flight Permits?
A flight permit is a document that confirms an aircraft has permission to overfly the airspace of a specific country, or to land in an airport at a specific country. The issuance process and requirements of overflight and landing permits differ from one county to another. Also, the flight type affects the flight permit issuance process. Flight permits issuance is usually a payable service in most countries. Overflight fees are also different according to each country’s regulations. Although the most common types of flight permits are overflight and landing permits, there are also other types such as special flight permits for ferry flights (which are called ferry permits).
In 1944, the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation was held. This convention made a great achievement. It was the establishment of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). ICAO is The United Nations Agency that manages the standards of international air transport and navigation. This organization is recognized by almost every country in the world.
The convention has also issued several aviation principles that are still effective today. One of these principles is the airspace sovereignty. It is what mainly introduced the different types of flight permits and overflight fees.
The Airspace Sovereignty above each of the Signatory Countries
Chicago convention defined five rights for each signatory state to operate air flights into or across the airspace of other states. These rights apply to both passengers and cargo airplanes. Those rights are also known as the five freedoms of the air.
The five freedoms are granted to almost all international airlines worldwide. However, that does not mean airlines do not have to apply for overflight and landing permits or pay overflight fees. The freedoms provide only a guaranteed approval of your overflight and landing permits.
The five freedoms of the air:
- Flying across another country without landing.
- Landing in another country for technical stops and refueling.
- Operating commercial flights from an airline’s original country to another.
- Operating commercial flights from a foreign country to an airline’s original country.
Interestingly, the third and fourth rights are usually granted together. If a plane is permitted to fly somewhere, it is also allowed to fly back with new passengers.
- Transferring passengers between two foreign countries if the flight route starts or ends at the airline’s original country.
Later, these freedoms were extended to nine by adding up four unofficial freedoms:
- Operate from a foreign country to another while making a stop in the airline’s original country.
- Operate between two foreign countries without operating flights to the airline’s original country.
- Flying between two or more airports in a foreign country and extending the service to the airline’s original country.
- Flying inside a foreign country without extending the service to the airline’s original country.
What Are Flight Permit Types?
Overflight permits are permissions to enter, pass, and exit the airspace of any sovereign country across your route. These permits are payable in most countries worldwide, such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Ghana.
How High is the Sovereign Airspace Territory of a Certain Country?
Officially, there are no international separation measures between a country’s airspace and outer space. However, there are some common considerations among countries to set the vertical boundaries of airspace. For example, some countries take 19 miles (30 km) above sea level as the outer space separation line, because it is the highest altitude planes or air balloons can reach. Other countries consider 99 miles (160 km) above sea level as a separation line, because it is the lowest stable earth orbit.
How Are Overflight Processing Fees Calculated?
Every country has its own specific method of calculating overflight fees.
In Canada, for example, the Civil Aviation Authority takes into consideration both the aircraft weight and the flight distance. While in USA, only the flight distance is considered to set two main rates: $61.75/ 100 nm if the plane is flying over US land, and $26.51/100 nm if it is flying over the ocean, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Some countries do not go too deep into calculations, as they have set a fixed overflight rate, regardless of the aircraft weight or the flight distance. For example, Afghanistan charges $950 for every overflight permit it issues.
Additionally, IATA has set a global form for overflight fees calculation that states:
Overflight fees = Unit rate x distance – km/100 x SQRT (MTOW/50)
Are you operating a short or long-haul flight?
If your flight is long, so will be the list of overflight permits you need to obtain, thus the higher your overflight fees!
Quick tip: With the assistance of an experienced flight planning company, like iJET, you can choose the flight route that minimizes your overflight fees the most and receive an accurate calculation of what you’ll be paying.
When to Apply for Overflight Permits?
The lead times for applying to overflight permits vary from one country to another. Generally, lead times range between 24 hours, like India, and 72 hours, like Turkmenistan. It is noteworthy that the faster you apply for the permit the better. Some countries charge more for overflight fees if you apply 24 hours before the flight date, and less if you submit your application 72 hours ahead.
What Are the Pre-requisites for Applying to Overflight Permits?
In most cases, to grant an overflight permit it is sufficient to provide: the details of the aircraft operator, the flight number, the schedule and purpose of the flight, and aircraft type and registration. However, some CAA’s of other countries also request air operator certificate (AOC), airworthiness certificate, noise certificate, aircraft registration certificate, and insurance certificate.
Who Imposes the Fees of Flight Permits Issuance and Overflight Fees?
The process of imposing and collecting flight permit fees differs according to each country. In general, the civil aviation authorities in most countries are responsible for the process. In some other countries, other entities involve in the process as well. For example, the airport authority, or specialist local government or military agencies.
As for the fees collection process, usually, the same authority that imposes the fees also collects them, like in Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Tanzania. However, there are countries that depend on international or regional organizations to collect the fees as an outsourced service. Such organizations include IATA, Euro Control, and ASECNA.
Landing permits are authorizations for an airplane to get landing approval in a specific airport at the destination country. A Landing permit asserts that the aircraft type complies with the safety measures and noise restrictions. It also affirms that the operating airline has permission to operate commercial flights for revenue.
There are some countries that do not require landing permits for private flights. Submitting a flight plan instead before the flight would be enough. This applies in the United States and European countries. While other countries may request different documentations for private non-revenue flights.
Why to Apply for a Landing Permit?
Landing permits are essential for traffic landing in any airport of a foreign country, whether the aircraft is transferring passengers or cargo, or when the airplane must make a technical landing for refueling or maintenance. Generally, applying for a landing permit due to technical reasons is faster and easier than applying for a traffic landing permit.
When to Apply for Landing Permits?
Each country has its own regulations concerning landing permit application lead time. On average, international lead times for landing permits vary between 72 hours to 7 working days for traffic landing permits.
What Are the Pre-requisites for Applying to Landing Permits?
Most civil aviation authorities require the following documents for landing permits application:
Certificate of Airworthiness, Aircraft Operator Certificate, Certificate of Registration, Insurance Certificate, Noise Certificate, Airworthiness Review Certificate
Special flight permits enable aircraft operators to fly an airplane that does not hold an airworthiness certificate or other necessary documents but is still capable of flying safely.
What Are the Purposes of Issuing a Special Flight Permit?
- Flying to an airport where aircraft maintenance is available.
- Flying with extra MTOW.
- Ferry permits, which is the delivery flight of a recently bought aircraft to its owner’s destination before completing all the necessary documents and issuing an airworthiness certificate for the aircraft.
- Aircraft testing after production.
- Evacuating the aircraft from dangerous areas (hurricanes, tornados, wildfires).
What Are the Pre-requisites for Applying to Special Flight Permits?
When requesting a special flight permit, an applicant should provide the following information:
- The flight purpose.
- The flight route.
- The crew number required to efficiently operate the flight.
- The specific issue that makes the aircraft unairworthy.
- For safety reasons, the FAA may request to run tests and inspections on the aircraft in some cases.
Tips for Applying to Flight Permits – Overflight Permits and Landing Permits
- When planning for your trip and overflight and landing permits, look for temporary flight restrictions/NOTAMS/permanent flight restrictions, restricted areas and prohibited airspace so you do not randomly cross over such areas in a certain country. As each country has determined during Chicago convention specific prohibited areas that no foreign aircraft could overfly, mainly military bases.
- Keep in mind that some countries need more permits than others, such as China, Mongolia, and African countries.
- Pay attention to the differences between the required documents for each type of permits.
- Stay updated! The requirements of overflight and landing permits change occasionally. So, the information you provided in your previous flights might be different from the information you must provide for the next one, even if you are heading from the same destination to the same location. Check for updates from the civil aviation authority of each country on your route.
- Research the flight permit lead time of every country you overfly. According to the process in every country, lead time may vary between less than 24 hours up to more than 7 days.
- If you ever apply for a short-notice overflight and landing permits, always have a plan B route as not all countries provide permits requested within a range shorter than their lead time. Another effective option would be booking iJET services, as our strong network with CAAs around the world enables us to get short-notice overflight and landing permits.
- overflight and landing permits have validity time. This validity time is different according to each country’s regulations. Generally, the validity period for most countries is between 24-72 hours. However, some countries provide permits that are only valid until the original flight schedule, if flight operators made any changes or delays they must inform and reconfirm with the authorities. Also, some countries require a new permit.
Question Marks by Aviation Professionals
CAAs impose processing fees for issuance of an overflight permit WHY?
Processing fees are generally non-refundable regardless of whether the permit is approved or rejected WHY?
Many aviation professionals find no sense in imposing such fees, but countries CAAs says yes to them! and day by day CAAs that were not imposing processing fees, are raising the hand to it and starting to request it as well…
Aviation Industry has a lot of charges and fees that are imposed to allow the aircraft to operate; like the fees of landing, parking/ landing slots, passenger service, terminal navigation, boarding bridge…
If we look into all these fees, we find them all convincing as they all come for a purpose and in return of a service that needs tools, space, or human resources, but WHY? to pay for overflying a country?
Especially that ICAO Chicago Convention regulations says: “No fees, dues or other charges shall be imposed by any contracting State in respect solely of the right of transit over or entry into or exit from its territory of any aircraft of a contracting State or persons or property thereon”
And this goes against imposing processing fees for the issuance of overflight permits!
What Are the Challenges of Applying for an Overflight Permit?
- Permit lead time and cancelation policy
- Some CAAs reject permits if you make many changes
- Some permits are routes specific
- There are countries that require different government documents
What Are the Challenges of Applying for a Landing Permit?
- Some countries approve landing permits only after the flight operator grants a landing slot and an approval from the slot coordination office, like Oman.
- Some countries are more strict about short-notice applications than others, like India, as you can’t get a landing permit on short notice unless you partner with a professional flight support company, such as iJET.
- Permits lead times take too long in some countries, like Turkmenistan, China, and Nepal.
- The CAAs in some countries, like Eritrea, are off on weekends, which stops permit processing, causing flight delays.
If you decide to avoid the efforts and challenges, Contact us or fill the form below. Our professional team can secure your short-notice flight permits. Also, our flight planning service helps you to choose the best route for your flight to reduce your overflight fees to the minimum.