Going to a country you've never been?
Bring along someone who has. Failing that, talk to another pilot who has been. Failing that, have a good handler with inside information about the ins and outs of the airports you are visiting.
With or without this kind of help, you should still do some homework:
- The Aeronautical Information Publications (AIPs) — are your primary sources for information about the rules and regulations for countries you fly to or over. You can think of an AIP as that nation's AIM. In fact, you can see a lot of our AIP in our AIM. Of course not all AIPs are available in English and those that are can be a long, tedious read.
- ICAO Doc 7030 is the "official" source of the differences each region of the world has from the ICAO standard. There are two problems, however. First, ICAO Doc 7030 isn't updated as often as it should be. Second, it covers regions and individual countries in the region could have differences above and beyond what is listed in 7030.
- The Jeppesen State Pages should give you everything you need to know about a particular country's difference, though it is a broad brush view and is probably not as complete as the AIP.
- The Jeppesen Airport Pages are also a must read, even if you have gone through the AIP.
- There are also many good Internet sources.
Aeronautical Information Publications (AIPs)
What is an AIP?
An AIP is a requirement levied upon a country as price of membership to the ICAO; they have to publish one.
[ICAO Annex 15, Chapter 4]
Note 1.— AIP are intended primarily to satisfy international requirements for the exchange of aeronautical information of a lasting character essential to air navigation. When practicable, the form of presentation is designed to facilitate their use in flight.
Note 2.— AIP constitute the basic information source for permanent information and long duration temporary changes.
What is in an AIP?
Knowing what is supposed to be inside an AIP can help you find what hyou need to know before using a country's airspace or airports.
[ICAO Annex 15, ¶4.2]
- Each AIP shall be self-contained and shall include a table of contents.
Note.— If it is necessary by reason of bulk or for convenience, to publish an AIP in two or more parts or volumes, each of them will indicate that the remainder of the information is to be found in the other part(s) or volume(s).
- Each AIP shall not duplicate information within itself or from other sources.
- When two or more States combine to issue a joint AIP, this shall be made clear both on the cover and in the table of contents.
- the identity of the AIP;
- the territory covered and subdivisions when necessary;
- the identification of the issuing State and producing organization (authority);
- page numbers/chart titles;
- the degree of reliability if the information is doubtful.
How is an AIP Organized?
Most AIPs are organized into three parts that will help you target your search.
[United States Aeronautical Information Publication, ¶3.1] The AIP is made up of three Parts; General (GEN), En Route (ENR), and Aerodromes (AD); each divided into sections and subsections as applicable, containing various types of information subjects.
Where do I find a country's AIP?
Ah, that is the important question, isn't it? You can just type the country's name followed by "Aeronautical Information Publication" and hope for the best. The best source I've found, as of early 2017, is: http://gis.icao.int/gallery/ONLINE_AIPs.html
One of the problems with having an exhaustive list of anything that has anything to do with international operations is that they quickly become out of date. The link for the U.S. AIP on that list, for example, is out of date. The correct link is: https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/media/aip.pdf
ICAO Doc 7030
Figure: ICAO Doc 7030 Cover Page, from ICA Doc 7030.
Figure: LFPB State Pages, from Jeppesen Airway Manual, France, Various.
The "State Pages" in the Jeppesen airway manual refers to the following tabs:
- Air Traffic Control Data — RVSM, volcanic ash, special navigation and communications procedures, to name a few.
- State Rules and Procedures — Units of measurement, WGS-84, flight procedures, airport minimums, ICAO differences, for example.
- Entry Requirements — Passport and Visa rules, health requirements, airspace entry, airports of entry, etc.
- Emergency Procedures — Special procedures, radio communications failure, search and rescue, as well as ICAO differences.
- Airport Directory — Airport hours, fire fighting rescue coverage, pavement classification, etc.
While they aren't always perfectly up-to-date, they often present your only source of need to know information.
Figure: LFPB Airport Pages, from Jeppesen Airway Manual, Le Bourget, 30-1P through 30-9C
The Jeppesen airport pages are a must read, for starters. While for many airports there is little to learn there, for others the information is critical and you won't find it any place else. At Paris Le Bourget, for example, this is the only place you have access to, unless you have a French AIP, where you will find out the normal landing runway, the reverse thrust rules after 2215L, and a unique rule that allows you to intercept an ILS localizer without ATC instructions under some circumstances. Since these pages are updated frequently, every time you go to a particular airport you need to look at every page!
- Australian Customs
- Canadian Customs
- G3 Passports & Visas
- ICAO NAT Ops Bulletins
- ICAO Regional Report
- NBAA International Operations
- ICAO Regulations
- ICAO European and North Atlantic Documents
- ICAO Regulations (Another Source)
- Monetary Exchange Rates
- Rockwell-Collins (Air Routing)
- Travelers Health (CDC)
- UK Customs
ICAO Annex 15 - Aeronautical Information Services, International Standards and Recommended Practices, Annex 15 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, 15th Edition, July 2016
ICAO Doc 7030 - Regional Supplementary Procedures, International Civil Aviation Organization, 2008
ICAO Doc 7030, Amendment 1, International Civil Aviation Organization, 8 January 2009
Jeppesen Airways Manuals