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Operators Must Be Mindful of Curfews, Landing Permits When Flying to Japan
While some restrictions to business aircraft flying in Japan have eased in recent years, thanks largely to the efforts of the Japan Business Aviation Association (JBAA), operators must still plan carefully in order to properly and legally conduct flights throughout the island nation.
"Procedures for obtaining airport slots and Prior Permissions Required (PPRs) vary worldwide,” noted Larry Williams, senior trip owner on the charter management team at Universal Weather & Aviation. “In Asia, they have their own unique characteristics... [and] the requirements vary from one airport to another." In some cases, you'll need to make separate applications for airport slots and landing permits. In other cases, airport slots will only be approved after landing permits are obtained."
Williams also recommends that flightcrews investigate customs procedures at their arrival airports, including prearrangement of a time to clear customs, if offered. Certain foods are also prohibited; though some catered items may be kept aboard the aircraft, or stored at approved facilities on the airport.
Other considerations include operating curfews, which also vary depending on the airport. "Each city is different, with Tokyo being the strictest," said Michael Fleming, partner with The Wicks Group, which provides legal and consulting services to aircraft operators and other transportation entities. "There's still a curfew at Narita from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Narita also has morning and afternoon peaks, and during those peaks it's unlikely that business aircraft will be able to obtain slots or landing permits. Conversely, Osaka's Kansai Airport (RJBB) can accept business aviation traffic 24 hours a day, and so may Nagoya (RJNA)." The latter also has a dedicated facility to accommodate business aircraft.
Some areas of Japan still show the damage done by the March 2011 tsunami, though perhaps not as noticeably as you might expect. "All airports in Japan are operating as normal," noted Hiroshi Higashiyama, representative director, Universal Aviation Japan. This includes Sendai (RJSS), which was heavily damaged by flooding, but has now largely returned to pre-tsunami service levels. “Currently, the restricted area for operations is limited to a three-kilometer circle of the Fukushima nuclear plant," said Higashiyama.
While some of Japan's commercial airports remain relatively unaccommodating to business aircraft, Fleming noted recent efforts by Japanese officials to make greater accommodations for operators near Tokyo. "Back in December 2010, Japan created a multi-disciplinary commission on the promotion of business aircraft," he said. "The commission addressed issues including slots, parking positions, the lack of dedicated business aviation facilities, and the need for landing permits. They are still in process of addressing these concerns, but there has been some movement." NBAA has also visited on several occasions with a group commissioned by the mayor's office in Tokyo to promote dual-use of Yokota Air Base (RJTY).
One positive development from these efforts was the March 31 dedication of the new business aviation terminal at Narita (RJAA), the first such facility there. "Not long ago, Narita Airport was not a realistic option for many business aircraft operators," Fleming noted. "Things are happening very quickly, with a lot of positive changes. Still, Japan is a market where you may need some assistance to determine what your options are at each location," he concluded.
For More Information
Additional guidance may be found in the FAA's International Flight Information Manual (e-version only) at www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/ifim.