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At NBAA2013, International Ops Committee to Discuss Flying to Unknown Areas
September 27, 2013
Business opportunities in remote parts of the world often require flight crews to go where they have not gone before. Steven Thorpe, assistant chief pilot for Merck, Sharp & Dohme, Corp. and vice-chairman of NBAA’s International Operators Committee, said his group is constantly looking for the latest intelligence regarding places where most crews have never flown.
“It’s the little ‘gotchas’ that make the difference between an easy trip and a hard trip,” Thorpe said. “What can hurt you? What can get you in trouble with the authorities?”
That constant flux in the rules and regulations that govern business flights in emerging markets is where the committee works hardest to keep its members informed.
“For instance,” Thorpe said, “In the U.S., terminal instrument procedures are the standards by which arrivals and departures are conducted. But in many other countries, procedures for air navigation services-aircraft operations define these procedures in very different terms.”
Prior to the upcoming NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA2013), the committee will meet in Las Vegas, NV from 2 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 21 in a session designed to vet speakers and topics to be highlighted at NBAA’s International Operators Conference (IOC) next March.
“Along with input from operators who are accustomed to [operating in] remote regions of the world, we invite members of our sister organizations, EBAA [European Business Aviation Association], AsBAA [Asian Business Aviation Association] and others, to give us the very latest information on happenings in places where our passengers are most likely to want to go in the coming year,” Thorpe said.
The session also includes presentations from groups like the International Business Aviation Council and International Civil Aviation Organization. But the greatest emphasis is on local issues that can affect aviators far from home.
“We rely on local handling agents,” said Thorpe. “They see changes in airspace where flying can be very restricted. In places like Africa or Russia, there are some airports where there aren’t any precision approaches, and yet, they really like to be in control. Or in the Amazon, where they’re improving both radar and radio communications. What are the changes? What’s new?”
As the International Operators Committee prepares for the International Operators Conference in March, Thorpe said the Oct. 21 meeting at NBAA2013 will focus on best practices in remote areas.
“For instance, do I need an overflight permit for a particular country? In China, for example, where do I find the most likely route? How far off is that from the most direct route? While we may have the latest information on procedures, what about the latest information on customs and practices?” he asked.
Thorpe said his committee expects approximately 50 people to attend the NBAA2013 session. Approximately 500 are expected to participate in the IOC, which is scheduled for March 14 to 17, 2014, in Tampa, FL.
The IOC draws a mixed crowd: about half of those who participate have attended previous International Operators Conferences, while the other half are first-time attendees.
“We do a good job of keeping it interesting while providing valuable information for newcomers,” he said.