Planning an international private jet flight requires specific knowledge and experience. Specific knowledge because depending on the aircraft and route a different set of milestones need to be achieved while the experience component allows a team of professionals to work in coordination with the client to provide tailored solutions to a different set of challenges that may appear during the operation – every flight is unique.
At Icarus Jet, we recently experienced a unique situation concerning a flight from Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Indonesia, with a fuel stop in India. While it may sound like the standard procedure for an international trip support team, the main challenge was planning the route for a Phenom 300, which although considered one of the most reliable and best-selling light jets in the global market, has range limitations that require a rigorous flight plan for longer routes.
1. Fuel Planning
Aircraft performance is one of the building blocks when performing flight planning. The reason is simple: the aircraft’s performance will determine the array of possibilities in terms of airports and secondary terminals during the planning process and ultimately define the number of fuel stops needed to get to the destination. Once our trip support team received the request from the aircraft’s owner, they started working on all the details and potential challenges throughout the process.
Fuel was the main barrier as a Phenom 300 only carries 5,150 pounds which translates into roughly 2,200 miles of range, meaning that a stop between UAE and Indonesia was a must. No issues there yet determining which airport in India was the most suitable to make the stop was the first challenge in the planning process.
After checking 4 landing options in India with our local partners, we advise our client that the safest fuel stop in accordance with aircraft fuel efficiency and the feasibility of obtaining special permission for specific ground equipment for the aircraft would be in Kempegowda International Airport in Bangalore.
2. Weather and Alternate Airports
While the leg from Sharjah (UAE) to Bangalore was set, our team still needed to identify the best options to land in Indonesia after refueling in India. The aircraft range limitations were once again the focus to determine the main airport and also the secondary options. In coordination with our local partners in Indonesia and constant communication with Indonesia’s Air Traffic Control officials, we were able to identify a suitable second option airport near the destination with operating hours in alignment with the overall flight plan.
Furthermore, with the main objective being to maximize fuel consumption, it was a key milestone in the flight planning process to receive approval from Indonesia’s aviation authority to use the secondary airport option. Secondary options are needed in any flight plan because they serve the purpose of a contingency option in case of weather-related disruptions. The same plan was reviewed with the crew and full approval was obtained – having all involved parties equally invested in the flight planning process is a key element to the success of any operation.
3. Permits and Documentation
The documentation process when planning trip support is a key aspect and for international flights specifically, it requires added layers of paperwork and engagement with aviation authorities. Each country has unique guidelines and policies for obtaining a landing permit – when planning a Part-91 flight to India operators will need to account for the 72 working hours it usually takes authorities to approve the flight while preparing all the documents.
In the case of Indonesia, for instance, we advise operators to have all the crew licenses, passenger passports, and Covid-19 vaccinations to get landing approval. In the case of this operation, having an established relationship with the authorities was a big reason for obtaining very specific landing permits with the main goal of creating a route that would maximize the fuel of the aircraft, even if that meant choosing an airport that required extending its operating hours.
The same as what happens in the cockpit during an unforeseen event, trip support teams need to be prepared for unexpected events and find the safest and most suitable solutions. Whether it’s the size of the aircraft which will bring the greatest number of challenges to the planning process, specific weather conditions, or the requirements to obtain landing permits, having previous experience, and understanding the feasibility of each request that comes through the door is one of the keys for a successful trip support service.
The lessons learned from this experience are invaluable for future operations, starting by emphasizing the importance of effective communication, thorough planning, and attention to detail in ensuring a safe and successful flight. Moreover, the value of established relationships with trustworthy vendors proved to be priceless to obtaining special approval for specific ground power equipment in India and a suitable secondary airport option in Indonesia for the completion of the operation.
Flight planning requires a specific detail-oriented mindset led by the experience of industry professionals. At Icarus Jet, we are in a prime position thanks to our established international relationships with aviation authorities, vendors, and operators, which allow us to provide solutions to unforeseen events with the only goal to exceed customer expectations by delivering a safe operation no matter the departing or landing location, type of aircraft or city pairs.