Shipping Out

shipping1Shipping Aerobatic Aircraft

It’s not something anyone would necessarily think about when they stand and watch an aerobatic display, but did you ever stop to think just how these teams manage to get their magnificent thoroughbred machines from point A to point B on the world map, and often battle with a whole host of obstacles, in order to perform a twelve minute, perfectly synchronised display?

Pull up a chair and prepare to be amazed at just how much paperwork, effort and critically timed scheduling goes into such an exercise.

Using Mark Jefferies, the UK based Global Stars Team Leader, and the Bahrain International Air Show (BIAS) 2016 as an example of what is required to travel to an international venue, the date line and time lapse video shown below, might go some way and give you an insight as to the enormous amount that goes on behind the scenes.

  • Mark Jefferies, International Aerobatic Display Pilot
  • Aircraft: Extra 330SC / G-IIHI
  • Departure Point:    EGMJ (Little Gransden, Cambridgeshire, UK)
  • Destination Point:  OBBS (Shaikh Isa Air Base, Bahrain)

Mark’s pre-departure check list for any international venue starts as a paper checklist:

  • Aircraft maintenance checks need to be carried out, which includes: Annual inspections, life item checks, preventative maintenance and the issue of the new ARC (Airworthiness Review Certificate)
  • Arrange aircraft shipping date
  • Check licensed engineers availability
  • Check ground crew availability
  • Arrange photographer/camera personnel plus equipment for the aircraft
  • Arrange Pyrotechnics shipping – specific procedures apply along with import licences
  • Spare parts inventory
  • Check visa/travel vaccination requirement

The following is the door-to-door timeline of the container shipment for one aircraft to attend BIAS 2016,

  • 16 Nov 2015 – 2 x personnel / 6 hours to dismantle the aircraft (G-IIHI)
  • 25 Nov 2015 – 2 x personnel / 2.5 hours to load G-IIHI into a container at Little Gransden (EGMJ) ready for shipping
  • 25 Nov 2015 – Container leaves EGJM for London Gateway Port
  • 01 Dec 2015 – Container departs London Gateway Port

Sea Crossing via: English Channel, through the Bay of Biscay, onto the Straits of Gibraltar then aastwards through the Mediterranean, Suez Canal, Gulf of Suez, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf to dock at Jebel Ali.

  • 21 Dec 2015 – Container arrives Jebel Ali, UAE
  • 21 Dec 2015 – Container transfer onto first available vessel bound for Bahrain
  • 26 Dec 2015 – Container arrives Bahrain Port
  • 10 Jan 2016 – Container is transferred by road to OBBS, Shaikh Isa Air Base
  • 15 Jan 2016 – Mark Jefferies flies to Bahrain via scheduled airline 
  • 16 Jan 2016 – Container is opened at OBBS and aircraft shell unloaded and assembled
  • 17 Jan 2016 – Secondary aircraft check inspection prior to ‘shake-down’ flight incorporating +7.5 & -3.6G
  • 18 Jan 2016 – Photo shoot & practice flight
  • 19 Jan 2016 – Validation flight to comply with BIAS Safety Committee
  • 21 Jan 2016 – First day BIAS 2016
  • 22 Jan 2016 – Second day BIAS 2016
  • 23 Jan 2016 – Final day BIAS 2016
  • 24 Jan 2016 – Dismantle aircraft ready for container shipment back to the UK

Now multiply the above by 2, 3, 4, 5 and/or 6 aircraft, add time zones, fatigue, temperatures on human and aircraft performance, visas & customs requirements, vaccinations, import/export paperwork, technical issues, delays, the need for language interpreters, public relation demands and let’s not forget that the reality of shipping onto another international destination in time to set up for that venue, is often a very real possibility … now doesn’t that put a whole new twist on what you actually see when you look up and watch these exceptionally talented pilots, and convert those 12 minutes into what you’ve just read!

Bahrain Time Lapse Video

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