Operators flying into Europe will soon see changes in Part 135 operations
I’ve never had the privilege of flying into Europe, which is probably why the idea of doing so is slightly intimidating to me. However, for those of you who fly in Europe, I’m sure it’s a walk in the park, but you still must be on the lookout for any procedural changes or new rules issued for Part 135 and 125 operators, like the one just announced by the European Union (EU).
Starting later this year, all Part 135, 125, and professionally flown Part 91 operators will be required to register for two new entry programs. The first program will begin in September 2022, and the second one will take effect in May 2023. I think it’s interesting how they include professionally flown 91 operations. Usually, Part 91 pilots get away with avoiding 135 rules. However, if your profession involves transporting people by air, this change applies to you.
Here’s the deal: An Entry/Exit System (EES) will electronically capture the movement of visitors who require a single or double-entry visa into Europe. The goal is to verify that these passengers have not already used the number of entries authorized by their visas. Before boarding, operators must confirm this information for each passenger by asking the EES to verify the details of any previous travel into the 26 countries that comprise the Schengen Area. The Schengen Area is 26 European countries that have officially abolished all passports and other types of border control at their mutual borders.
Later, in May of 2023, the verification process will add the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). Then, operators must verify that their visa-exempt passengers have a valid travel authorization to enter the Schengen Area. Non-EU nationals who do not need a visa still need travel authorization through the ETIAS system.
Both the EES and ETIAS exist to prevent potential risks and security concerns, and both are very fluid programs. Because of this, Part 135 and 91 operators who regularly travel to Europe should register for both programs as soon as possible; who knows what kind of delay will develop in processing information.