New Saudi safety code in force

New safety rules, which were published by Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) on 1 March, were brought into force on 1 September following a six-month grace period. They will have far-reaching implications for owners and operators of aircraft in Saudi Arabia, both air carrier operated airline aircraft and privately operated corporate jets.

The rules require that aircraft that are registered in Saudi Arabia should be operated under a GACA approved air operator’s certificate (AOC) in respect of commercially operated aircraft, or an operator’s certificate (OC) in respect of privately operated aircraft. They are designed to counter illegal charter flights by private aircraft – the so-called “grey market” – which has been recognised as a problem in Saudi Arabia and the wider region for some time.

It is not yet clear how the regulations will be applied in respect of foreign non-commercial operators of foreign-registered private aircraft that are based in, or regularly visiting Saudi Arabia. Aircraft that are registered outside Saudi Arabia, but which are leased to or ultimately owned by individuals or entities that are resident in Saudi Arabia may be affected.

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