Region VII: Middle East/Asia (MID)

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Flying to Israel? Be Aware of Challenges

August 1, 2014

Conducting business aviation operations into Israel can be challenging, particularly now, since the entire region is facing political unrest and instability.

“We understand the unique nature of the situation in Israel right now, when it comes to all transport modes,” said Doug Carr, NBAA vice president, regulatory and international affairs. “As just one example, the FAA has intermittently halted airline flights into the country in recent days. We thought it would be best to share with NBAA Members some of the basic information we’re getting from people familiar with aviation operations in that part of the world.”

In Israel, general aviation operations are only permitted at one airport – Ben Gurion Airport (TLV), and all flights arriving in TLV must depart from an approved airport, which are listed on the Israeli Civil Aviation Authority website. Review the list of approved airports.

While a landing permit approved by the Israeli Aviation Security Operations Center (ASOC), has always been required, government officials there now require 72-hours’ notice prior to arriving in TLV. Some exceptions might be considered for air ambulance operations.

“Israel is being especially strict about landing permit notification,” said Misty Benefield, a senior trip support specialist and Israeli operations subject matter expert at Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc. “Short-notice landing permits might be considered, but are certainly not given priority. Air ambulance operations are the exception and might be granted a landing permit with less notice.”

Once an application for a landing permit has been made with the ASOC, it must be updated with any changes to passenger information or flight information, including crew member details and arrival time changes. The handler then sends a unique security code that the pilot must enter into the landing permit application website and complete a questionnaire.

Then the pilot receives a specific landing permit number that must be included on the International Civil Aviation Organization flight plan.

Increased Security

Security is a high priority in Israel, with verification of personal identity a central focus. A local sponsor must have personal knowledge of all passengers on board. Even pilots entering Israel are receiving additional scrutiny.

“Security is especially heightened in Israel at this time,” said Benefield. “Since the first of the year, pilots – whether employees of, or contractors to the operator – have been required to provide 10 years of previous work history when requesting a landing permit. In some cases, ASOC might request a letter from the captain describing the passengers and purpose of flight.”

Universal recommends business aviation operators take special precautions in Israel, including providing secure transportation and personal security to passengers and crew members.

Possible Passport Issues

Due to political tensions between Israel and some of its neighboring countries, it may be difficult to travel between Israel and other Middle East or Islamic nations on the same passport. Some countries won’t let operators in if they just came from Israel, and operators may face extra scrutiny in Israel if their passports have stamps from certain countries. Some Islamic countries have official policies, while others just frown upon it and may give operators a hard time.

“Consider where you are going next or have come from recently,” said Benefield. “A second passport can be very helpful if you are crossing between Israel and most Islamic states.”