International Operations Flight Manual
The International Operations Flight Manual was published in January 2016, though editing was closed out a month prior. I am doing my best to keep up with changes in international flight operations and have a number of readers helping out too. Here are the changes that (a) I am aware of, and (b) I think are applicable to the users of this manual.
Latest update: "Micro SLOP".
Australia RNP Compliance
In a last-minute about face, Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has advised that non-commercial operators of foreign-registered aircraft that do not wish to take advantage of RNP 1 and RNP 2 traffic services that go into effect May 26 will not be required to apply for a two-year exemption to operate in Australian airspace. Only commercial operators that can comply with the requirements and want RNP 1 and RNP 2 traffic services are required to apply for an exemption.
“There is no exemption needed for foreign-registered aircraft for the foreseeable future if they are not RNP 1 and and/or or RNP 2 compliant,” according to the agency. Starting on May 26, ATC will continue to accept aircraft that are not RNP 1 and/or RNP 2 capable as long as the operator notates on the flight plan the navigation capability of the aircraft the crew is qualified to use. Operations into Australian airspace by aircraft that are RNP 1 and RNP 2 capable and operated by qualified crew are required to flight plan in accordance with the appropriate specifications starting on May 26.
Source: AIN Alerts, May 23, 2016
Canada electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)
This new system goes into effect 15 March 2016 and will impact anyone travelling to Canada under the Visa Waiver Program, except those travelling with a United States passport. For more information about this, see Canada electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).
Checking the eTA website on the date the program was to go in effect there is this bit of news: "However, from March 15, 2016 until fall 2016, travellers who do not have an eTA can board their flight, as long as they have appropriate travel documents, such as a valid passport."
For future editions of the manual, this will generate a new chapter to Section VII, a note in Section VIII, Chapter 12, CANPASS; and a note to Section VIII, Chapter 38, Visa Waiver Program.
Updated: 21 Mar 2016
Confirm Assigned Route
In October of 2016 Reykjavik will automate a "Conform assigned route" message to all FANS 1/A aircraft about 5 minutes after entering the Reykjavik Control Area. If there is no response to the CONFIRM ASSIGNED ROUTE message, or the response is via FREE TEXT, an alert will be sent to the controller. All of this is detailed in Iceland AIC 2016 A 012/2016, which also notes that "It should be noted that in some aircraft types there are identified anomalies that inhibit the display of a SEND prompt and thus prevent the crew from responding correctly to the uplink. In this case the crew should respond with free text message UNABLE TO SEND ROUTE."
I've gotten this message from Gander and Shannon as well. In the Gulfstream it might seem we are being prompted to type in the route, but that is not the case. More about this: CPDLC / Confirm Assigned Route.
Updated: 11 Sep 2016
Disinsection is the process of spray an aircraft before, during, or after a flight to get rid of insects. Some countries take this pretty seriously and others don't. Things appear to be changing as a result of the Zika Virus. For more information about this, see Disinsection.
For future editions of the manual, this will generate a new chapter to Section VII.
Updated: 19 Feb 2016
North Atlantic High Level Airspace (NAT HLA)
North Atlantic Minimum Navigation Performance Specification (MNPS) Airspace has been replaced by North Atlantic High Level Airspace (NAT HLA). Current authorizations are good until the year 2020. The airspace has grown a little (it now includes Bodo) and new authorizations will require RNP-4 or RNP-10. For more information about this, see North Atlantic High Level Airspace (NAT HLA).
For future editions of this manual, this will generate a change to Section III, Chapter 7, North Atlantic High Level Airspace (NAT HLA).
Updated: 2 Mar 2016
Mach Number Tolerances (Oakland Oceanic)
Oakland (KZAK) Oceanic now requires a call if Mach Number varies by Mach 0.02 or more. See Mach Number Technique / Tolerances.
For future editions of this manual, this will generate a change to Section VIII, Chapter 26, Mach Number Technique.
Updated: 23 Oct 2016
The ICAO has allowed SLOP in tenths of a nautical mile since 2014 but no one implemented this until July 2019. You can now SLOP from 0.0 to 2.0 in 0.1 nm increments in the North Atlantic.
[NAT Doc 007, ¶8.5.10.] Distributing aircraft laterally and equally across all available positions adds an additional safety margin and reduces collision risk. SLOP is now a standard operating procedure for the entire NAT region and flight crews are required to adopt this procedure as is appropriate. In this connection, it should be noted that:
a) Aircraft without automatic offset programming capability must fly the centreline.
b) Aircraft able to perform offsets in tenths of nautical mile should do so as it contributes to risk reduction.
More about this: Strategic Lateral Offset (SLOP).
Updated: 13 Aug 2019
MMEL vs. MEL
The ICAO says you need a Master Equipment List (MEL) specific to your aircraft. The U.S. FAA says a Master MEL (MMEL), on that is for a fleet of airplanes, is good enough. But if you are flying overseas, you have to fly by their rules. For more about this, see: MEL.
So if you don't have an MEL you should think twice before venturing to anywhere a SAFA check is likely. But, as of December 2017, you might have some leeway. See the Gulfstream Update: FAA LOA D095/D195 Update.
Updated: 17 Dec 2017
The "Quad 4444" maneuver for oceanic contingencies still applies for most of the world, but there is a change for the North Atlantic. See: Oceanic Contingencies.
As of: 28 Mar 2019
Operating Without an Assigned Fixed Speed (OWAFS)
The requirement to issue an assigned fixed Mach to all flights has been removed from NAT SUPPs (ICAO Doc7030), however, due to the technical design of the ACARS Clearance (CLX) message and NAT Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP) application of longitudinal separation using the Mach number technique, nearly all oceanic clearances issued to turbojet aircraft in the NAT Region include an assigned Mach. If any variation to the assigned Mach is desired, flight crews must request such changes from ATC.
All aircraft, regardless of FANS equipage, will be eligible for the application of OWAFS in both ATS surveillance and non-surveillance airspace. Oceanic clearance procedures will remain unchanged. A fixed Mach will continue to be part of the oceanic clearance. ATC may remove the speed restriction via voice or CPDLC by issuing "Resume normal speed" instructions.
If the aircraft then receives RESUME NORMAL SPEED (via CPDLC or Voice), the flight crew no longer needs to comply with a previously issued Mach. However, the flight crew shall advise ATC if, as the result of the RESUME NORMAL SPEED message, they intend to adjust their speed by plus or minus Mach 0.02 or more from their last assigned speed.
See: Mach Number Technique.
As of 12 Jul 2019
- As of February 2017, ULLI/St. Petersburg will be the first Russian Airport to start using feet and QNH – chosen because it’s pretty close to sea level. And one of the more ‘western’ Russian airports.
- Descent clearances will be to an altitude in feet, based on QNH.
- The ALT/HEIGHT conversion chart will disappear from charts.
- You’ll get “Descend altitude 3000 feet QNH” instead of “Descend Height 900 meters” from ATC.
- After the St. Petersburg ‘trial’ is complete, the rest of Russia will slowly follow suit.
- Quick example for ULLI ILS 10L, so you get the idea:
- The ALT/HEIGHT conversion box is gone.
- The “Alt Set” or Altimeter Setting box shows hPA (Hectopascals) instead of MM (millimeters), which means a QNH-based approach.
- Previously charts showed QFE in bold which meant that was the preferred altimeter setting, now it’s QNH.
For future editions of this manual, this will generate a change to Section VIII, Chapter 4, Altimetry (Metric).
Updated: 27 Feb 2017
RNP 1 Authorization Required in Hong Kong FIR (VHHH)
HKCAD (Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department) is now enforcing a November 2015, requirement that Operators possess State Authorization (LOA or OpsSpec) to exercise RNP1 within the Hong Kong FIR (VHHH), the whole of which is RNP1. "PRNAV authorizations", for now, will not be acceptable means of compliance for RNP1. Greatest effect is upon FAA Part 91 Operators since the FAA currently does not issue C063 to private operations. Bermuda and Cayman registered aircraft have access to and may already possess RNP1 Authorization. Operators of US / FAA aircraft or of other States / Flags should check their approvals before entering or transiting the VHHH FIR.
For future editions of this manual, this will generate a new chapter in Section III, Navigation.
Updated: 17 Apr 2016
Southern Border Overflight
This from the Flight Service Bureau
- There are multiple changes to the US Border Overflight Exemption process effective 2017. Unusually, there is no official notification of the changes from either CBP or DHS, and so you may find that even the Customs Officer on arrival does not know about them.
- The March 2017 changes may be the start of the end for the Border Overflight Exemption, since most requirements from the CBP perspective are transferred to eAPIS: notably, the fact that individual aircraft are no longer listed on the Approval Letter.
- Noteworthy is that at many Airports, the front line CBP officers were not aware of the new rules. CBP have said: “This is new not only to you but to most of the Officers in the field. Your pilots need to know what it says because they will be getting questions when they land.”
- All BOE approvals will now be issued for two years, whereas previously one was the norm Aircraft are no longer listed on the approvals.
- The holder of the exemption may use any aircraft under their control: owned, leased, managed, borrowed, etc.
- Any aircraft can be used as long as it can make the distance and it has the CBP required elements for an aircraft to be considered worthy of overflight: CBP Decal, Transponder, ability to fly at 12,500ft under IFR Crewmember format has changed. They are the only group still in the letter. Even though they have a streamlined listing, CBP ask that you continue to send complete information when adding a crewmember.
- Advance Notice of Arrival is still in place, you should call the Port where you want to arrive at least a day prior to your arrival and give them your information.
- The letter of exemption may now be carried in electronic devices, smart phones, notebooks, tablets, etc. No matter how it is carried, paper or electronically, the letter is to be onboard when you are conducting an overflight.
For future editions of this manual, this will generate a new chapter.
Wake Turbulence Categories (EU)
The EU added subcategories to the already established Medium and Heavy categories to come up with new distance and time separation criteria. While filing codes are the same, aircraft are separated on departure and approach based on the categories light, lower medium, upper medium, lower heavy, upper heavy, and super heavy. More about this here: Wing Tip Vortices / EU Wake Turbulence.
For future editions of this manual, this will generate a new chapter in the Appendices.
WGS-84 (Operating GPS in Non-WGS-84 Countries
Most manufacturers first adopted the position that you should not use GPS whenever operating in a non-WGS-84 country, even when en route. In April 2016 Honeywell officially amended their position to say you should use it while en route, you can use it while flying a radio-based approach provided the underlying navaid is tuned and monitored, but you may not use it for a RNAV GNSS approach in non-WGS-84 airspace.
For future editions of this manual, this will generate a change to Seciton VIII, Chapter 40, World Geodetic System-84.