Landing a smaller aircraft at a large airport shouldn’t be a problem, right? With the availability of space and lots of runways to choose from, so it should be easier. But that’s not actually the case.
While some of the well known big airports are often the best choice when travelling by airline, that’s not the case at all for private charter jet.
Which airport should I use when travelling by private jet to or from London?
For example, we’re often asked by new private jet users travelling to or from London, whether they should use Heathrow. You shouldn’t! From a passenger’s and pilot’s point of view.
Some large and busy airports have FBO facilities for private jet travelers, so they don’t have to use the main terminal building – which is what many travelers are trying to avoid during the pandemic but it’s not mainly about avoiding the airport terminal.
There are other reasons why large airports aren’t always better.
- The holding stack
It’s unusual for the pilot of any aircraft be granted a straight in, no delay, approach to a large airport. So more often than not, a private jet (as with all other aircraft) will be put in a holding pattern, due to the large number of aircrafts moving in and out of a large airport.
Holding is a normal part of operations at a large airport but for fractional or card holder private jet users, it can cost. They are billed per minute on the actual flight time. Our customers don’t lose financially when this happens but they do lose time. And time-saving is one of our priorities at AirBusinessInternational
- On approach
When approaching landing, smaller jets tend to fly slower, without Air Traffic restrictions, this would result in the bigger aircrafts ‘tailgating’ the smaller private aircraft.
At larger airports, Air Traffic Control will often direct private jet pilots to keep their speed at or above 200 kts, until they are 4 nautical miles from the runway.
Flying above 200kts normally requires the aircraft to be clean without flaps, landing gear, or speed brakes extended. Keeping the speed fast on the approach means this final configuration changes, and pre-landing checks need to be done in more in more of a hurry, just prior to landing. This might seem hectic for a new or junior pilot.
Landing a smaller aircraft on a larger runway might not be a problem but few problems can arise after you land. Pilots must get off the runway swiftly in big airport because there might another larger aircraft landing in few seconds.
So, small aircraft are expected to get off the runway quickly when they land on a long runway at an international airport. Fast turn offs are applied for this process and not brakes, pilots often accelerate after landing to quickly get off the runway.
To taxi a private jet at a large airport can be highly intensive process and multiple errors are prone to occur. There are over 3000 private jet airports in Europe. So, private jet pilots get complicated and long taxi instructions from the air traffic.
- Parking aircraft
Required setup to handle private jets are not available in some large airport like in the smaller airfields. A private jet might have to be parked at a farther distance away from the privet jet FBO. This makes it more difficult for the crew to perform their tasks, like meet and greet or escort the passengers to the waiting vehicle after arrival.
- Customs & immigration
The inflexible procedures of larger aircraft might result in delay. Sometimes smaller airports don’t have the same customs for passport checks like large airports, but they are designed around the customer. Which make their procedures less time consuming.
- Road delays
Most private jet customers value the time saved on the ground. So it can be frustrating to eat into that time-saving, by sitting in a long traffic jam in the car, leading in or out of the airport.
Traffic build up on the major motorways and roads around bigger airports is much more of an issue that at smaller airports, which are much better for a fast getaway after your flight.
So therefore Smaller airports are better for private jet customers
Though there are exceptions, at AirBusinessInternational, we do recommend our customers to use smaller airports. Private jet travel is more about speed and customer service. Major international airports just can’t match smaller airfields in these aspects.
Our expert team can answer any questios you have about choosing the right airport when travelling. Contact us 24/7 on +302109967870