Finally out of Malaysia and past Philippines. Now in Okinawa, waiting for permits for domestic flights in Japan. Progressing slowly but steadily. Hoping to make it back home soon!
But how I got here and how I plan to get out of here, to learn, please read some of the strings of messages I get from Eddie Gould, Founder of GASE (General Aviation Support Egypt) my agents, every hour of the day. He and his co-founder/partner Ahmed Hassan Mohamed, are working so hard to get me through this journey. I can’t even imagine doing something like this on my own. Thanks Eddie and Ahmed you guys Rock!
Here we go;
(some nomenclature, ETD;Estimated Departure Time, WBGG:Kuching, WBKK;Kota Kinabalu, RPVP:Palawan, ROAH:Okinawa, UHPP: Kamchatka, Russia etc CAA: Civil Aviation Authority)
” Nothing in the mails…We were asked earlier to send a copy of your pilot’s license earlier by Indonesia which shows they are working on it. We are still waiting for DGCA approval, expect to obtain within few hours. Best Regards,”
“Indonesia permit granted
Permit # 7395/0408/NONSCHED-INT/2017
I will file FP shortly and send copy to u
But Please advise ETD”
“Ravi, I told you…you file for RPVP and put WBKK as alternate. There are no issues then with you landing in an emergency. If you have to stay on the ground there longer then we extend or renew the permit. There is no Philippine permit as there is no arrival date. Like I said before…we need a good lead in time to apply for Philippines…so no last minute requests to fly within 24 hours. I am getting nowhere with the search for avgas there at WBGG…in fact getting no replies and that may be down to the weekend.”
“Just look forward now. Here’s a what if…what if you had bought an aircraft that uses JetA1…What if you had added Indonesia and Australia and island hopped to Japan…there a load of what ifs if you look for them…but none of them help your situation now…let’s concentrate and moving you forward and in the meantime, realize you are in a place you will probably never visit again. Be a tourist. Meet the people and take photos. Make some good memories out of a poor situation…it will all work out, it always does.”
“I don’t want to update the permit because we changed many times already and CAA added a line last amendment that they may decline any future permits for this flight”
“Let’s do it as unplanned diversion”
“Not a last minute decision but a great result after trying many ideas. It is just that we could not put any of the paperwork into motion until we knew what the result of all the negotiations would be. But, fingers crossed and you will soon be on your way again”
“I Doubt we won’t get it on time, but anyway yes worst case you will remain at WBKK till the permit is in hand”
“Ahmed, how long does it take for Japan to get sorted for permits…we know they can be a pain sometimes…”
“Hi Ravi, we are having a problem with RPLL…this is from agents/AIP/NOTAMS Also please be informed that RPLL GA restrictions are as follows: 1930Z-0400Z – 2 landings and 2 takeoff slot per hour 0400Z-1100Z – Gen Av movements are prohibited 1100Z-1730Z – 2 landings and 2 takeoff slot per hour 1730Z-1930Z – runway closure except on Thursdays”
The agents recommend… RPLB – currently downgraded to Class G both CTR and TMA until September but airport is operational and CIQ and fuel-into-plane is available.
The problem here is that we will then have to apply for a separate ‘domestic flight permit’ on top of normal permit. I am think a movement to WBKK or RPVP and await the domestic permit and Japan permit. Then all will be in place for non-stop movements…but at this juncture, the uncertainty of movement causes more problems…we need to make a plan where we get these domestic applications in, based on a proper schedule that also fits with onward permit for Japan. This recommendation does have fuel into aircraft so will be better than barrels
If you agree with RPLB then I will ask agents for time scale and the domestic permit
I have asked for time scale…I have a problem now as I need to take cats to vet in about 20 minutes from now…I think Ahmed will be sleeping, so I need the agents to reply asap and give them the go ahead based on the time scale…and tell you too…fingers crossed
“There are two permits to be applied for…the normal one that will arrive tomorrow. The domestic one will be on Thursday. So you can fly to RPVP and wait till Thursday for Domestic permit. But I need a schedule with dates and times I can pass on to agents before I go out…ASAP…please”
Yes…did you see my plea to get a schedule based on the permits?
“Arrival time and date RPVP Dep date from RPVP will be on Thursday – times dep and arrival RPLB Please”
“This is what they sent… “Please expect landing approval for 10th August arrival and 11th August departure for RPVP-RPLB-ROAH.” This effectively means that you cannot depart until the 10th, Thursday. The reason being the domestic permit takes longer than the normal permit. So if you had been landing at RVPV and then departing to another country then no problem. Making a domestic flight within the country needs two permits and that is what the delay is…but you will definitely depart on the 10th. Please don’t ask if you can go to WBKK tomorrow and stop there as it is not on your Malaysian permit and you haven’t got a Philippine permit number to show you leaving the country tomorrow. This is normal for this part of the world. Changes in times and destinations will cause knock on effects and the loss of Manila meant finding a new place to stop and that causes an extra day’s delay. If we stick to this schedule then it should all go as planned form now on. Kuching will soon be a bad memory.”
“If you land somewhere it is a landing and you have to have Permission. Maybe not in the USA but this isn’t the USA and the main problem with flying around the world is that you go through places where the bureaucracy is a hundred times worse than the weather for delaying flights. Be careful, any messing with the schedule in Japan can cause massive delays. We need to stick completely to the rules and schedules otherwise you will need to brush up on your Japanese. By the way, just back from the dentist so not feeling too good. But the plan is… 10th, depart for RVPV from WBGG as planned…make a diversion to WBKK for fuel, blaming winds. Overnight at RPVP 11th, depart RPVP for RPLB, refuel and do CIQ and depart for ROAH. Do you intend to stop in ROAH one night only? Next flight will be from ROAH with a stop at RJFK (Kagoshima) for fuel and then on to RJCO (Sapporo). This is where it gets a bit messy. They may let you depart from there to UHPP or you may have to do the short hop from RJCO to RJCC to clear customs. I guess you will be staying overnight (or more?) in Sapporo? Then on to UHPP So, I need ASAP the overnight stops and for how long…”
“My problem here is that the controller has bugger all to do with anything. It is the CAA that is letting you fly through Malaysia via their permit and if the permit has a different schedule on it than the one you intend to File then we may have problems. That is why I am saying wait for Ahmed to check with the CAA. If, like hat was suggested from day one, the people who we said may have fuel, who you then said you wouldn’t trust, had said yes – stop here for fuel – then WBKK would be in the schedule used to get your permit. But you said that you would not trust the fuel so we spent ages trying to find a plan b…only for you to decide that the fuel is OK there and to go with what turns out to be the original plan anyway…but too late to change the permit based on plan B. The so called ‘usual’ flights will already have filed to do a tech stop at WBKK…at least that is what I am thinking…but to mess with the permit at this stage is risky and that is why I need Ahmed’s input before giving you a green light. The controllers, the handlers, the fuel suppliers are not the ones we worry about…it is the bureaucrats who are like god…they are the ones who say you can fly or not, not the controllers, without the CAA permit you can’t fly…and we need to make sure that you don’t mess the permit we have up. Can you understand the need to make sure first?”
“Just to let you know that the Japanese do not like our choice of airfields because they have a military presence there and the security situation is heightened because of the war of words between Trump and N. Korea. But the agents are going to choose the right airports for us based on your range and need for fuel. Will let you know as soon as they let me know.”
“The first thing I say in my pamphlet is that a pilot can plan for years for a RTW and have everything in place, do all the calculations and know everything off by heart…but as soon as he departs on that first day he needs to throw the plan out of the window because it will change and it will need revising in real time.
A lot of people think a RTW is easy because it is just a lot of one day flights added together…quoting that they do that every day across the USA or Australia or Europe etc…but you now know how different it is and hopefully can realize that the worst thing about a RTW is the bureaucracy…and then the weather and then any tech problems. The tech problems can be fixed by the pilot or an engineer, the weather will change soon but the bureaucrats are in a different league…and almost all do not like GA aviation. You miss out on the battle of words we have with these agencies nearly every day…and with people like the Japanese you have to be careful as they run their lives on etiquette and one wrong word could mean disaster when applying for a permit, ask Colin Hales who made a right mess of his entry into Japan, ending up with a 7 month stay…But, we continue the fight to get you moving…all will be known very soon You will make it through, we have no doubt about that…just a pain if these hold ups continue.”
“Will do, just sent reminder for the Philippine permit to see when we can expect it…fingers crossed – again Coffeeeeeee…BRB”
“Brilliant…touch wood you get the right weather…do not fly if weather is bad…now we have a permit it can be revised and it probably has a leeway too…waiting for actual permit doc but they sent the number so you can file./…
Domestic Permit Number for flights RPVP – RPLB – ROAH = 3DF2017439”
“Please be advised that ROAH landing approval has been confirmed. Departure permit is pending. Please depart from RPLB as planned at 0400 UTC and latest 0500 UTC today. CONFIRMED AIRPORT SLOT ARR ROAH 11 AUG 0900 UTC FM RPLB. PARKING SPOT L-12 Customs officer will come into aircraft to check on arrival.”
“Good morning Ravi. As you know, we are now waiting for the domestic permit that allows you to fly through and make stops in the rest of Japan. The discussions going on in the background are all about what route that will be based on your range and need for avgas and the most important…getting an exit airport where avgas is available? Our original choice of RJCO was denied because it is part military, even though we have used it before. The latest security issues may be blocking semi-military airports for use.
I booked your room for one night only because we didn’t know how long you will be there, so you need to go and extend your stay with reception.
Any problems with re-booking then let me know.
How are you doing with tech toilets and gadgets everywhere I see that there is a launderette there if you need to do any clothes washing.
I am just waiting for some feedback from the agents…but Japanese do not like to be rushed or pestered for news. So, we will stick to the etiquette and will get there quicker that way.”
“It doesn’t work that way in Japan. We have to use a recognized agent. The agent may be based in Tokyo or somewhere else. This agent is who we work with all the time. They then use their people at the different airports. So we don’t know the names of the people at each airport but everything goes through the recognized agent. Trying to find people at each airport causes masses of problems, ask Colin Hales. He decided to do Japan all on his own. Searching for names at each airport and ending up being stuck in Japan for 7 months. Like I say, Japan has to be done properly, using their etiquette and rules. So, whatever you do, do not agree to let someone help you as the agents will be put out because you didn’t go through the right channels and then the world will come tumbling down. 72 hours is actually a great result. Colin 7 months in Japan. Norman Surplus 2 years stuck there. So, we will do what the agent says as they are in touch with the CAA and the Military and trying to go another way will not work…you will be going nowhere soon…etiquette is everything in Japan. Must follow all the rules.”
“the agent said they would be there to meet you at the aircraft.
I always emphasize the need to listen to us because of problems in the past when ‘well-meaning’ outsiders have offered their support direct to the pilot and the well-meaning support causing more problems.
It is a big thing with me to make sure that this is known to pilots because of the major things that have happened to cause problems in the past. So don’t worry about thinking I may be over the top about it, it is one of those things that I do because of what has happened in the past and I don’t want to see happen ever again. Because you missed out Cairo you never got my talk at our hangar where we have a commemorative plaque to a Father and son who perished in the Pacific after not listening to us but going with advice from an outsider. It kind of hits home a lot better than trying to explain in messages all the time. But we missed that talk and trying to put how important some things are into messages is not easy to do when trying not to sound like an idiot or grump…”
“He is the handler. Each airport has handlers. Or an FBO. But generally these handlers only deal with the airport they are at. So when you are using more than one airport in a country you will see a number of different handlers. There are many different scenarios for the different countries. Some easy ones are just call the handler at the airport and it is done. The handler may be the actual airport and the handling is automatic. Sometimes though you have to hire an agent who then has to arrange the handling at each airport via whoever is the airport handler. In Egypt we are the agent but we have to hire Egyptair to do the handling. Likewise in Japan we use an agent called NAC-OPS with a person called Kaori as the main contact. He or she is the one doing the talking with the authorities and as you can imagine, in a place like Japan it is the authorities who make the decisions and we just have to sit and wait for them to stamp their bits of paper and then send those bits to others to be stamped and then Kaori gets them back and passes on to us. We then tell you the outcome and Kaori alerts the handlers at the following stops. All complicated, when it could be so easy, but this is the rest of the world and each place does things differently and progressively more complicated. So don’t worry, things are in hand and the handler may have been given RJOY as a suggestion but he may be reading off the original schedule we sent that was declared void because of the military stuff. Marvel at the weirdness of where you are. Get in touch with your friend who used to be at Kadena and see if he still has contact details for people still there. I know the USAF really looked after Norman very well when he arrived in Okinawa.”
Engeny Kobanov, Russia
“Ravi, I will not be able to change your permit quickly. Myself I’m in vacation near UHPP without any access to internet. Can you keep UHPP as the only stop in Russia? I can arrange new permit, but it will take some considerable effort from me”
“Ravi, I am in discussion with the agents about other options. RJCO is classed as Civil/Military and they should try harder to let you use there. And I found another airport north of RJCO/RJCC that has Avgas but no customs. So I am suggesting you clear customs at RJCC and then do a tech stop at RJCB for fuel. I have told them that changing to UHSS would mean in indefinite delay in Japan and would be no good for anyone.”
“Nothing back yet which seems to be typical of them. But i have to go to bed now as it is coming up to 2.30am here. Ahmed will chack for answers from them in the morning. I hope to be up by 8 and will see too.