For many countries, if an aircraft is operating normally, no Overflight or Landing permit is required. Sometimes, however, the aircraft will not meet full airworthiness requirements but is still safe to fly.

New deliveries, ferry flights to a new operator, maintenance flights, or positioning to storage, may all have special circumstances that normally result in the aircraft operating with a Special Airworthiness Certificate.

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Special Airworthiness Certificates

The most common type of Special Airworthiness Certificate is a regular Ferry Permit. The FAA call this a ‘Special Flight permit’, EASA’s term is a ‘Permit to Fly’. It is issued by the Country of registration and allows an aircraft to be flown on a specific route and date, eg. for delivery, maintenance, transfer of ownership.

Other types of Special Airworthiness Certificate categories are Restricted (eg. modified special purposeaircraft like NASA’s 747SP with a telescope, or Pratt & Whitney’s 747 engine testbed), Experimental (like the Lockheed Martin X-55.

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Special Permit (Flight Authorisation)

Every aircraft operating on a Special Airworthiness Certificate requires a Special Authorisation from each country being overflown or landed in. This is normally requested from the Ministry of Transport for that country, or the technical department of the Civil Aviation Authority. Official processing times are up to 20 days.

Specific to foreign operators flying to or over the USA, the FAA term for this is ‘Special Flight Authorization.

EU Blacklist – Special Permit

For Operators that are on the current EU Blacklist under Annex A (airlines that are banned from operating in the European Union) and Annex B (airlines that are permitted to operate in the European Union only under specific conditions), a Special Permit can also be obtained to allow flights that are required to operate to the EU for maintenance or other reasons. A separate permit is required from each EU country enroute.

Together with obtaining a Special Permit for each EU country overflown, SAFA must be notified, and the standard Eurocontrol FPL Alarming system must be deactivated for your flight.

Processing Fees

The cost to obtain a Special Permit is different for each country, according to complexity and Civil Aviation and Ministry of Transport charges.

What’s the easiest way to file a request for a Special Permit? 

Many can now be done online through the Flight Service permit tool.

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You can also contact service@fsbureau.org for any questions.