United Arab Emirates: GCAA Of The UAE Issues Regulation On Foreign Operators And Foreign Registered Aircraft

Last Updated: 5 October 2016
Article by Nick Humphrey

Subject to certain nuisances to reflect the operating environment within the UAE, the FOC appears to have been modelled on European Community Regulation No. 452/2014 of 29 April 20141 which regulates "third country operators" in the European Union.

Most notably, the FOR introduces enhanced provisions for the oversight of foreign airlines operating within the UAE Flight Information Region (UAE FIR) and provides express prohibitions, limits and conditions relating to activities involving foreign registered aircraft, such as, changes to registration and the "parting out" of aircraft. There are also provisions under the FOR which may apply to fixed base operators (FBOs) and maintenance, repair and overhaul organizations (MROs) based in the UAE.

Registration and oversight of foreign operators

Under Section OPS of the FOR, all foreign operators that intend to fly into the UAE "for remuneration or reward" must first be registered as "Foreign Operators"2 and be issued with an FOR number. An application for registration as a Foreign Operator must be submitted no later than 10 days prior to the intended commencement of operations into the UAE. The FOR number shall remain valid for a period of one year.

This requirement was previously more loosely reflected in the UAE Aeronautical Information Publications (UAE AIP) where Foreign Operators "involved in Commercial Air Transport taking passenger or cargo from / to UAE airports" must be registered. In light of the introduction of the FOR, the UAE AIP will be revised to ensure consistency with the FOR. As a transitional provision an authorisation issued Foreign Operators in accordance with the UAE AIP shall remain valid until expiry.

The FOR sets various standards and obligations which the Foreign Operators must adhere to when conducting operations into the UAE. The obligations of the Foreign Operators expand on those currently set out in CAR Part III Chapter 6 and include the following:

  1. compliance with, inter alia, the UAE Civil Aviation Law and application publications such as the CARs, UAE AIP, Safety Alerts and Information Bulletins;
  2. granting personnel of the GCAA permission to board an aircraft without notice to undertake review of relevant license and authorisation carried on-board and to carry out a rampinspections;
  3. reporting to the GCAA any air safety incident or occurrence which arises with the UAE FIR;
  4. carrying on-board the aircraft copies of the AOC, the Operations Specifications anda valid insurance certificate meeting the minimum requirements set out at GEN 1.6.4 of the AIP;
  5. for aircraft operating above 10500 ft within the UAE FIR, it must be equipped with RNAV equipment meeting RNAV 5 requirements;
  6. for aircraft with an MTOW exceeding 5,700 kg or moreand which can carry more than 19 passengers, it must be equipped with ACAS II equipment and a mode S transponder; and
  7. after 1 January 2020, all aircraft undertaking IFR flights must be equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast Out equipment.3

Ramp inspections

In respect of ramp inspection of foreign operated aircraft, if the GCAA makes Cat 2 or Cat 3 findings, the GCAA may request corrective or prepetition actions to be undertaken by the operator. Depending on the severity of the finding, the GCAA has the right to restrict the operations of the aircraft, ground the aircraft and/or ban the operations.

Crew members of Foreign Operators

The FOR prohibits the crew members of Foreign Operators from being drunk or under the influence of any substance which may impair their capacity to perform their duties. All crew members may be subject to testing for "psychoactive substances" whilst on duty and if a positive test is returned or a crew member refuses to submit to a test, the GCAA may impose a range of sanctions including grounding the aircraft or prosecution.

GCAA approval required for activities involving foreign registered aircraft

The FOR sets out various scenarios involving foreign registered aircraft which require the issuance by the GCAA of a "No Objection Certificate" (NOC) before that activity may be undertaken, which may be particularly relevant to UAE based FBOs, MROs and aircraft brokers.

An NOC is required when a foreign registered aircraft located in the UAE is to change its registration to foreign state aircraft registry. This may be relevant where a foreign registered aircraft is flown to the UAE under a sale a purchase agreement to minimise tax exposure and, whilst the aircraft is in UAE, the aircraft registration is changed to another foreign state registry. If the NOC is not obtained beforehand, the aircraft may be grounded in the UAE for a lengthy period. The GCAA addressed this issue must recently in Safety Alert 7 of 2015.4

Furthermore, an NOC is required in the following circumstances:

  1. when a foreign registered aircraft is to be based in the UAE;
  2. prior to undertaking a demonstration and testing flight of a registered aircraft;
  3. prior to the dismantling or destroying a foreign registered aircraft; and
  4. if a foreign registered aircraft has been parked in the UAE for more than six (6) consecutive months.


1 European Commission Regulation (EU) No 452/2014 of 29 April 2014 laying down technical requirements and administrative procedures related to air operations of third country operators pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council.

2 Refer to TCO.300 of EC 452/2014.

3 This is an An ADS-B system feature that enables the frequent broadcast of accurate aircraft position and vector data together with other information.

4 https://www.gcaa.gov.ae/en/ePublication/_layouts/GCAA/ePublication/DownloadFile.aspx?Un=/en/epublication/admin/Library Pdf/Safety Alerts/SAFETY ALERT 07-2015 De-registration and registration of foreign registered aircraft taking place in the UAE.pdf

GCAA Of The UAE Issues Regulation On Foreign Operators And Foreign Registered Aircraft

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