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European Union Third-Country Operator (TCO) Authorization

Commercial and charter operators from outside the EU must now obtain a Third Country Operator (TCO) authorization to fly to, from, or within the EU. This new regulation went into effect in November 2016 and applies mainly to commercial air transport. But your business flight may be affected if you’re using a chartered aircraft or if you lease your aircraft for cargo or passenger transport to defray the cost of empty legs.

What is EU TCO Authorization?

The TCO program ensures commercial aircraft operating in the region are compliant with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards. Operators apply for TCO authorization by submitting information about their aircraft and safety programs to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for review. EASA then approves those in compliance.

Which Operators Require TCO Authorization?

  • Any operator providing commercial air transport under an air operator certificate (AOC) from a non-EASA member state or territory must obtain TCO authorization prior to landing in the EU – even for technical stops. (No authorization is required for overflights.)
  • Operators filing flight plan types “S” (scheduled air service) or “N” (non-scheduled air transport operation. For business flights, make sure your pilot files a type “G” (general aviation) flight plan.
  • TCOs operating in European Free Trade Association states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), and EU overseas territories including Gibraltar, Aland Islands, Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Reunion, Saint Martin and Mayotte.

What is Necessary to Obtain TCO Authorization?

  • Operators must demonstrate compliance with ICAO standards.
  • ACAS 7.1 (for all aircraft above 12,500 pounds).
  • Implementation of a Safety Management System (SMS). EASA generally recognizes International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) certification as demonstrating compliance with TCO’s SMS mandate, but these standards are tightening; Approved TCOs unable to demonstrate level 3 SMS by December 2017 will have their authorizations suspended.

How Do Operators Apply for TCO Authorization?

An authorization request must be submitted to EASA. Applicants will then receive a link to the EASA TCO website to file the application. Applications must be submitted at least 30 days in advance of planned entry to the EU or other covered territory. A single application can be used to cover multiple aircraft in an operator’s fleet.

The application is then returned, accompanied by technical specifications with the scope of approved EU operations, and serves as the authorizing document.

Contact your Jetex representative if you have additional questions or need assistance with TCO authorization.

Get in touch with us today.

Jetex Dubai
+971 4 2124000

Jetex Miami
+1 305 306 4000

Alternatively, read more about other permits and permissions required when flying to the EMEA .