Following the launch of the advance flight preclearance and screening system at the initiative of Lithuanian airports in early May, it is reported that positive results are already being observed. According to the representatives of the airports, the new system was essentially designed to manage the potential sanctioning and operational risks associated with incoming military, private charter or general aviation flights, as well as risks directly related to the actual owners of the aircraft and the passengers on board.
"The previously used simplified procedure for coordinating incoming non-scheduled flights with airports did not, in our opinion, eliminate some risks, and did not require information on the aircraft, pilot and passengers. We have therefore been testing the new clearance procedure for a month. Under the new procedure, arriving aircraft are required to provide all essential information on the aircraft operator, customer, owner, passengers and some other data. Once this information is received, it is subject to a rapid assessment, in particular an analysis of the compliance of the available data with European Union (EU) sanctions and the operational feasibility of accepting the flight in question. Only after the pre-clearance procedure has been completed can the aircraft and its crew, as well as passengers, arrive and use the services at the airports," comments Vidas Kšanas, Head of the Safety and Security Department of Lithuanian Airports.
According to the Director, similar coordination procedures are applied in other European airports, therefore the Lithuanian airports' screening and clearance procedure is in line with international experience. In developing the flight coordination system, Lithuanian aviation market participants were also consulted.
It is important to understand that it does not apply to aircraft operating regular flights or to those aircraft that have to land urgently at Lithuanian airports for technical reasons.
V.Kšanas notes that about six hundred flights have already been pre-cleared and verified under this new procedure in one month, and that several cases have been identified where flights did not take place due to non-compliance with the current EU sanctions.
"The procedure initiated by Lithuanian Airports has already proved its worth and is showing real results. We firmly believe that having a standardised disclosure of information, a detailed description of planned arrivals, minimises the risk of a sanctioned aircraft or a private individual arriving in Lithuania, which is strategically important in the context of the whole country. In addition to the many benefits of this screening, it is also important for us to ensure that private flights at all airports will receive the right service, and that we can see and track all the necessary stages of the clearance process," says the Head of Safety and Security at LTOU.
It should be reminded that Lithuanian airports (especially Vilnius and Kaunas) have a number of aircraft maintenance companies where aircraft owners and operators from all over the world can book their services, so the new clearance procedure is also important in this respect, i.e. while managing the operational capacity of the airports to handle such flights and to have detailed information about their real owners and their connections.
An efficient pre-flight clearance system will also be crucial in the preparation for handling the various aircraft for the NATO Summit in Vilnius.
Not only Lithuanian airports, but also ground handling companies, Air Navigation, specialists from the Transport Competence Agency, the Lithuanian Transport Safety Administration and other institutions are involved in certain stages of the pre-clearance procedure and screening.