Flight support services – what are they and when do we need them?

Flight support services are the behind-the-scenes operations that come together to allow an aircraft, its passengers, or cargo to get from A to B safely, and seamlessly. Whether it’s a passenger flight or cargo charter, the whole flight organisation process can be both complex and challenging with a host of constantly changing variables. That’s why aviation companies use expert international flight planning services to ensure easy, and trouble-free logistical solutions.

Expert flight support services providers, such as Chapman Freeborn, play a pivotal role, 24/7/365 remaining in contact with airports, ground handlers, catering providers and other key aviation service providers globally. This constant inter-connectivity ensures that there are no surprises anywhere across the flight planning services transport chain. 

With so many variables associated with every passenger flight or cargo charter, flight support specialists are always on hand to monitor flight situations, track weather systems and filing NOTAM alerts in real-time. Other aspects of flight support services include worldwide trip planning, operations management, logistical support, ferry flight services, and UK air passenger duty services.

Worldwide flight planning

Air support services can provide complete flight planning solutions as a component, or as a full part of a client’s flight planning operations. Flight plans can also be provided for one single flight or any number or series of flights. Using the latest and industry-leading flight planning software, flight support services can provide weather and NOTAM notifications and advice directly to an aircraft’s FMS. Having a team of experts as your flight support team can ensure that your flight plans are always routed effectively providing cost-effective and safe solutions to all aspects of operational flight plans.

These aspects can also include; fuel calculations, graphical routes, optimal flight level planning, airport slots, military PPR, and web-based remote crew briefs.

Flight operations management

The distinct definition of flight operations management means the tracking of air traffic in addition to having ultimate control over airline and airport ground operations, holding responsibility for timetables and direct communications with in-flight teams. These management operations also include pilot and team training, compiling and submitting crew historical and medical records, interviewing and hiring potential crew and employees, and tracking changes in airport infrastructure and updated regulations. 

The functions of flight operations managers are both varied and are highly specialised. It is for this reason that airlines will outsource their flight operations management to external experts who have vast experience and hugely competent teams who can track every sector of operations management globally.

Diversion management

Aircraft get diverted for many different reasons. These diversions can cause huge tailbacks and delays and must be carefully handled to avoid any further knock-on effects to passengers, crews, schedules, cargo transportation, and the entire flying community.

An experienced flight support services team will have in place an established protocol for the management of diversions which will provide the support needed, sometimes even before a diversion can occur. If and when a diversion and the associated knock-ons does occur, a flight support services team employ their diversion management know-how in dealing with handling agents, providing and overseeing passenger welfare, managing accommodation options, dealing with suppliers, and minimising chaos across the board. The proper management of diversion scenarios can be more than just handling the present situation but in the right hands, it will also act as a future fire-fighting process when dealing with passengers, marketing, and media.

Managing aircraft ferry services

Another vital component of UK flight support service is aircraft ferry services and aircraft delivery services. But, what is a ferry flight? An experienced flight support service team can ensure that whether an aircraft ferry means the delivery of a new aircraft to base, or ferrying (relocating) an aircraft to a new location, it is their hard-earned experience that can guarantee that the entire ferry flight operation will be monitored in every detail from beginning to end. 

This can include organising qualified local flight crews (negating the need to relocate flight crews), procuring and handing the necessary ferry flight permits, fuel purchasing, ground transport and hospitality accommodation, route management, and flight planning. A flight support specialist will manage and monitor every aspect of the aircraft ferrying service. A specialist aircraft ferrying company can make a complicated operation appear seamless.

Managing air passenger duty tax

Firstly, what is air passenger duty? Air passenger duty (APD) is a tax imposed on passengers departing from a UK airport but comes with several specifications. APD applies to operators of aircraft departing the UK with more than 19 seats and over 5.7 tonnes. Established flight support service providers are fully acquainted with every aspect of APD, most especially, what are air passenger duty rates, what is the air passenger duty refund, and how much is air passenger duty?

A company like Chapman Freeborn can offer a full fiscal representation service for both regular and occasional flight operators. As APD comes with many complexities and regulations, experienced flight support service providers can offer up-to-the-minute advice on all implications of the air passenger duty tax and its possible consequences for your business and its operations. To comply with UK HMRC regulations, overseas operators must be UK registered and any company not in possession of a UK legal address must employ the services of a regulated Fiscal Representative. As failure to comply fully with APD taxes can meet with considerable fines – for both non-payment and incorrect payment – it is in the operator’s best interests to employ a qualified and experienced flight support service who can also offer full-spectrum advice and consultation, along with fiscal representation regarding APD and many other issues.

Logistical support

As mentioned at the outset, flight support services make all of the unseen tasks that combine to ensure safe, timely, and fully regulated aircraft operations appear seamless. Using a flight support services provider can ensure that all logistical complications can be avoided from the outset. 

From aircraft ferry permits to across the board flight compliance an experienced service provider will advise, or carry out a wide selection of vital tasks on an operator’s behalf. From providing ground operations support, flight briefs, automated flight plans, obtaining landing and overflight permits, addressing fuelling issues, providing operational support and hotel arrangements, to managing technical issues and even organising air shows, having partner professionals available around the clock, every day of the year can offer peace-of-mind, and allow aircraft operators to concentrate on other issues and allow their flights to run smoothly. 

In the UK, flight support services can offer one-off flight help solutions, or work hand-in-hand throughout entire processes. Usually, the client can decide on the level of support required, creating a bespoke service that matches exactly with the client’s particular needs. Regardless of the level of a client’s business, there are always complicated processes that require specialist knowledge, or are one-off and beyond the means of the operator. That is where UK flight support services are an invaluable partnership for any operator’s business.

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