The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced a reduction in requirements for foreign operators conducting business aircraft flights in U.S. airspace that are to take effect immediately. The move, made in association with the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), was published in FDC 5/6289, superseding FDC NOTAMs 3/2735, 3/2768, and 3/3013.
The latest NOTAM states that from now on foreign-registered aircraft under 100,309 pounds (45,500 kg) maximum gross take-off weight operating within the U.S. are not required to obtain an airspace waiver. Aircraft registered in China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Sudan, and Syria, are exempt from the changes and are also required to obtain FAA special route authorization. Importantly, all aircraft overflying U.S. territories, with the exception of U.S. registered aircraft, still require waivers.
This is fantastic news for foreign operators as it guarantees better flexibility for foreign-registered aircraft within U.S. territorial airspace. Traditionally, operators were required to go through the FAA/TSA airspace waiver application process for flights in this weight category, providing details of each and every flight within U.S. airspace well in advance of their trips. This process has long been a pain point for non-U.S. operators planning business travel to and within the U.S. as it rendered business travel rigid and inflexible.
According to the latest announcement, all civil aircraft operating within U.S. airspace within this maximum take-off gross weight must:
- Follow all applicable existing regulations
- Operate VFR in airport traffic pattern areas of airports near the U.S. border
All civil aircraft with a maximum takeoff gross weight greater than 100,309 pounds operating within U.S. territorial airspace must:
- Use an active VFR or IFR flight plan
- Be equipped with a Mode C or S transponder and use an ATC-assigned transponder code
- Communicate clearly with ATC
- Utilize an approved TSA aviation security program or operate with an FAA/TSA airspace waiver
All aircraft must file with US Customs, Advanced Passenger Information System (eAPIS)
For civil aircraft overflying the U.S territorial airspace:
• If MTOW is over 100,309 pounds – TSA waiver is required
• US registered aircraft; MTOW 100,309 or less – TSA waiver is not required
• Aircraft Registered in Mexico, Canada, Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands with an MTOW 100,309 lbs or less, overflying the U.S. either not originating or not arriving in any of these countries– TSA waiver is required
• Aircraft Registered in Mexico, Canada, Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands; MTOW 100,309 lbs or less; Overflying the U.S. either originating or arriving in any of these countries– TSA waiver is not required
• All other foreign registered Aircraft overflying the US territorial airspace – TSA waiver is required
U.S. territorial airspace is defined as the airspace over the United States, and its territories, and the airspace over the territorial sea which extends 12 nautical miles from the baselines of the U.S. in accordance with international law.