Diplomatic Aircraft Clearance Procedures for Foreign State Aircraft To Operate in United States National Airspace
A. GENERAL CLEARANCE REQUIREMENTS
1. Foreign governments seeking diplomatic clearance for state aircraft to transit United States territorial airspace or land must obtain a Diplomatic Clearance Number (DCN) issued in advance by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Global Programs and Initiatives (PM/GPI). A DCN authorizes the aircraft to transit or land in the United States and its territories in accordance with the approved itinerary.
2. To obtain a DCN, foreign governments must submit information to PM/GPI via the web-based Diplomatic Clearance Application System (DCAS). Once the PM/GPI Diplomatic Clearance Officer verifies that all necessary data is provided and that diplomatic clearance is appropriate, the automated system will reflect that clearance has been granted and a unique diplomatic clearance number has been issued.
3. Clearances to transit or land in the Freely Associated States of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, or the Federated States of Micronesia will not be entered in or processed via DCAS. Final approval rests with the applicable host nation. To transit or land in the Freely Associated States, foreign governments must submit a formal request to the applicable host nation for approval. The host nation government will submit a dip note to the U.S. embassy requesting the U. S. government concur, approve, or consult regarding a foreign state vessel. If there is no objection to the request, the U.S. embassy will be informed, which then communicates this to the host nation. Each request must be submitted at least three full business days in advance of the aircraft entering the applicable airspace.
4. Foreign governments seeking to land state aircraft at U.S. military facilities located in a foreign territory do not require a DCN issued by the U.S. government; however, they do require a landing authorization number per paragraph B.5. below.
B. AIRCRAFT CLEARANCE LEAD TIME AND VALIDATION
1. Each foreign mission must submit diplomatic clearance requests via DCAS (https://dcas.state.gov) no later than three full business days (72 working hours) in advance of the aircraft’s initial entry into the United States. "Business days" routinely are Monday through Friday and do not include federal holidays when the U.S. government is closed. For an example not involving a holiday, requests for aircraft to arrive in U.S. airspace on Monday at 1300Z hours must be submitted via DCAS no later than the previous Wednesday at 1300Z hours. To facilitate planning, federal holidays observed by the U.S. government in 2018 will be:
|2018 Federal Holidays|
|Monday, January 1||New Year’s Day|
|Monday, January 15||Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.|
|Monday, February 19||Washington’s Birthday|
|Monday, May 28||Memorial Day|
|Wednesday, July 4||Independence Day|
|Monday, September 3||Labor Day|
|Monday, October 8||Columbus Day|
|Monday, November 12||Veterans Day|
|Thursday, November 22||Thanksgiving Day|
|Tuesday , December 25||Christmas Day|
2. Complying with the three business day advance notification procedure is critical to ensuring necessary information and adequate lead time is provided to the various U.S. government agencies overseeing flights into and within U.S. airspace. In 2007, the President of the United States approved the National Strategy for Aviation Security, resulting in enhanced interagency collaboration on all airspace management activities, including coordination on diplomatic aircraft activities.
3. In a very limited number of circumstances, PM/GPI will take action during non-duty hours on a case-by-case basis requiring an exception to policy. Exception to the three business day advance notification rule may be granted for the following circumstances:
a. Bona fide Emergencies: Urgent medical evacuation, humanitarian and disaster assistance, and search and rescue operations are considered bona fide emergencies. Medical emergency requests must be accompanied by information about the emergency, a description of the patient’s condition, and the name and phone number of the hospital where the patient will be treated. A medical emergency is considered the possible loss of life, limb, or eyesight if treatment is not sought within 24 hours. A flight in support of a routine medical appointment is not considered a medical emergency and requires the routine three business day advance application.
b. Short-Notice Official Government Business VIP Flights: Short notice requests concerning VIP flights must be accompanied by information describing briefly the official nature of the government business, to include the name of key participants and location of the meeting. To be granted this exemption, the VIP must be on official business. For purposes of diplomatic clearance, the Department of State considers a VIP to be a cabinet minister or a three-star general/flag officer and above.
c. Short-notice, official government business requiring movement of senior government officials or for cargo deemed to be critical to an operation or emergency. An exception may be granted to support new and developing situations, however, a failure to plan in advance for the routine transport of government officials or cargo does not qualify for an exception.
d. Significant crisis or event requiring a foreign senior government official to alter travel plans on short-notice.
e. Humanitarian or disaster assistance operations.
f. Search and rescue operations.
g. Mechanical or weather delay.
h. Amendment to a previously approved application involving a change in aircraft, tail number, call sign, officer-in-charge, or number of passengers.
•Justification is required for all requests for an exception to policy. Within DCAS, foreign missions must include a description of the event or emergency to explain why the request does not meet the established three business day advance timeline.
• Foreign governments should not assume that a short-notice request will be approved. Instead, state vessels should move toward the United States, or within the United States, in accordance with an approved diplomatic clearance. Movement should not occur based on a pending request or amendment.
• For purposes of diplomatic aircraft clearance, the Department of State considers a senior government official to be a cabinet minister or a 3-star general/flag officer, and above.
• A medical emergency request must include information about the patient’s condition and the name and phone number of the hospital where the patient will be treated. A routine medical appointment is not considered a medical emergency.
• For short-notice situations that qualify for an exception to policy:
• Submit a complete application via DCAS, or amend an existing application via DCAS.
• Send an email to DCAS@state.gov to highlight and to justify the pending short-notice request.
• PM/GPI will provide limited after-hours support during regular business days, Monday – Friday, from 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., Washington, D.C. time. Call telephone number 202-647-9000 to alert PM/GPI of the short-notice request for support.
• In addition to the late evening weekday support, PM/GPI will monitor the DCAS@state.gov mailbox each weekend and holiday between 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. PM/GPI personnel will work requests that meet standards for an exception to policy. All other requests will be reviewed during the next duty day.
4. Validity of Diplomatic Clearance Numbers: Approved DCNs are valid for the following time frames:
• Arrival into the United States – Plus or minus three (3) hours.
• Movement within the United States – Plus or minus three (3) hours.
• Departure from the United States – Plus or minus three (3) hours.
Any arrival or departure beyond the time frames established herein requires the foreign embassy to immediately submit an amendment to the applicable DCAS application.
It is the responsibility of the foreign government to coordinate and confirm with the appropriate airport points of contact all arrival and departure schedules and changes. There are circumstances whereby an airport authority, military or civilian, may not be able to accommodate the user request.
5. Aircraft Military Landing Authorization Numbers (MLAN):
• Requests to land at military airfields (Air Force/Navy/ Army) require issuance of a Military Aircraft Landing Authorization Number (MLAN). Requests for an ALAN (Air Force), NALAN (Navy), or AALAN (Army) will be submitted to the appropriate U.S. military service by the Department of State via DCAS; however, it is IMPERATIVE that the individual embassy comply with the following: Military locations must be clearly designated on the request; for example: McGuire AFB, Gray AAF, NAS New Orleans. When requesting to use National Guard or military reserve unit ramps on civilian airfields, designate the airfield appropriately; for example, cite Bangor ANGB instead of Bangor International. If only the civilian designation for the airfield is cited – for example, Bangor IAP or Minneapolis IAP – this indicates that the civilian side of the airfield only will be utilized.
• The foreign government’s embassy is responsible for ensuring that each aircraft intending to use a military airfield or military ramp at civilian airfields has been issued a MLAN by the appropriate U.S. military service prior to the aircraft departing its home station or other location prior to entry into the United States. Once the military service issues an MLAN, the embassy requestor will receive an email notification from the Department of State (via DCAS) showing the update.
6. Flight Routing Authorization: Routing requests must be received by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at least three (3) full working days prior to the scheduled flight. (See paragraph D2 to determine if special routing is required.)
7. It is the foreign government’s responsibility to submit a complete manifest of both crew and passengers to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the Airport of Entry (AOE) a minimum of forty-eight (48) hours prior to arrival in the United States and/or U.S. territories. In addition, some military locations will require a complete manifest prior to issuance of final clearance to land at the airfield.
8. For military airfields, the owning military service headquarters will issue a Prior Permission Required (PPR) number as final authorization to use the military airfield. The foreign embassy and aircraft commanders are responsible for ensuring PPRs have been approved for all military landing locations prior to departure from their home station or point prior to entry into the United States. Any changes to the landing times, cargo, or crew/passengers may require reissuance of the PPR and amending of the Diplomatic Clearance. The minimum amount of advance notice is twenty-four hours; yet, some airfields require greater lead times. Headquarters, United States Air Force will attempt to obtain the PPR number for all diplomatically cleared aircraft seeking permission to land at U.S. Air Force bases and will input the PPR number into DCAS along with the ALAN number. Final authority for issuing a PPR rest with the base/installation commander and airfield manager and is based on factors such as Maximum on Ground (MOG), base/installation closures, manning and shift restrictions, HAZMAT restrictions, weapons restrictions, or persistent violation of base/installation guidelines.
C. PROCEDURES TO SUBMIT DIPLOMATIC AIRCRAFT CLEARANCE REQUESTS
1. Each foreign embassy in the United States seeking diplomatic clearance must have at least one trained DCAS operator. DCAS users obtain an account by visiting https://dcas.state.gov, selecting "Request Account" in the upper right-hand corner and following the instructions. The PM/GPI Diplomatic Clearance Officer will respond and assist the requestor, as necessary, to use the system.
2. Please follow the procedures as detailed in the Diplomatic Clearance Application System (DCAS) User Guide. The User Guide is located within the “Admin” tab after logging into the user’s account at: https://dcas.state.gov.
3. To follow is a checklist for ensuring DCAS Application Blocks are properly and completely annotated:
a. Ensure applicant contact information is complete and current. This is provided via the submitter’s DCAS account profile stored within the database. Provide a reliable after-hours point of contact telephone number for use during urgent situations.
b. State the official purpose of the flight. Select the appropriate purpose using the drop-down window. If a mission is not listed, select Other – Explain, and provide details in the “Purpose Details” block.
c. As appropriate, include the name of U.S. person(s) with whom the highest ranking VIP is meeting, the name of the conference, the name of the military exercise, or any other clarifying information for the request.
d. If applicable, state the name and title/position of the highest ranking VIP on board the aircraft. For these purposes, a VIP is defined as a Cabinet Minister or three-star General/Flag Officer, and above.
e. In the free-text Comments section, please add anything that would help U.S. government officials better understand the nature of the flight or any potential issues involved.
f. Any country wishing to land aircraft at a U.S. military facility must obtain a Military Landing Authorization Number from the U.S. Air Force (ALAN), U.S. Navy (NALAN), or U.S. Army (AALAN). If a blanket ALAN or NALAN has been issued by a U.S. military service, enter it in the application. If not, this will be added at a later time by the appropriate military service.
g. Enter the specific type of aircraft. It will be either a Military or Civil aircraft. A foreign military aircraft MUST have a diplomatic clearance issued by the Department of State before it can operate within the United States. All foreign non-military aircraft are considered civil aircraft. Civil aircraft may be considered, on a case-by-case basis, for designation as a foreign state aircraft if the foreign embassy submits a formal application to the Department of State, via DCAS, requesting such designation. To make a determination, on a case-by-case basis, the Department of State will consider factors such as:
• Purpose of flight – e.g., governmental or non-governmental in nature,
• Owner and operator of the aircraft – e.g., owned and operated by a foreign state, or chartered by a foreign state to exclusively perform a governmental function,
• That the aircraft will not be used to engage in commerce, other than to exclusively transport government officials or government cargo for official government business, and
• Timeliness of request – i.e., the embassy submits a DCAS application at least three business days before the aircraft is to enter U.S. airspace.
The U.S. Department of State coordinates with the U.S. Department of Transportation before issuing a diplomatic clearance to an aircraft that is not part of the armed forces of a foreign country. Regarding non-military aircraft – for which the Department of State does not issue a diplomatic clearance – the Department of Transportation could consider an application for the aircraft to operate as a civil aircraft, in accordance with rules and procedures established by U.S. civil aviation authorities.
h. Enter the make and model of the aircraft being used for the mission, e.g., Boeing 747-400, Lockheed Martin C-130, Beechcraft King Air 350.
i. Enter the aircraft Call Sign that will be filed on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) flight plan. Valid state aircraft call signs for diplomatic flights are any alpha-numeric combination not to exceed seven (7) characters, usually beginning with an alphabetic character. If the state aircraft operator has an approved ICAO three-letter designator, please use this designator as the first three letters of the call sign. For example: The Royal Australian Air Force’s ICAO identifier is ASY. A call sign for one of their missions might be ASY1234. When entering this information please do not use any blank spaces, dashes, slashes, or any other special characters.
j. Enter the aircraft tail number or registration number displayed on the aircraft. A valid entry is any alpha-numeric combination not exceeding ten (10) characters in length. When entering this information please do not use any blank spaces, dashes, slashes, or any other special characters.
k. Enter the name of the pilot, the number of crew on board and the number of passengers.
• Enter the time, date, and name of the airport from which the plane is departing immediately prior to entering the United States. Use the four (4) letter ICAO Code for that airport. When entering the ICAO code, DCAS may suggest names of airports similar to the code being entered. If the airport and code appear in the drop down window, select it and continue to the next itinerary block. Put all times in ZULU hours. The air crew or mission planner can assist with the calculations.
• Enter the date and time when the plane will be arriving at its first destination in the United States or at a U.S. airfield. Use the four (4) letter ICAO Code for that airport if it appears in the drop down window, and put all times in ZULU hours.
• Please list all U.S. airports to which the plane will be flying, and the dates and times of arrival and departure for each one. Use the four (4) letter ICAO Code for the airports and put all times in ZULU hours.
• Enter the date and time when the plane will be departing from its final port in the United States. Use the four (4) letter ICAO Code for that airport and list the name and ICAO code for the first destination outside the United States.
• For transits only, ensure the entry and exit points and times are provided by the aircrew or mission planner, and put all times in ZULU hours. If you require assistance with transits, feel free to contact the DCAS Clearance Officer for assistance.
m. If applicable, describe all weapons and ammunition transported on the flight by serial number and amount. This section is mainly for weapons transported by individuals and not for bulk weapons being transported as cargo, although they too are required to be identified as such.
n. Describe the type of cargo the aircraft is carrying. If the cargo is hazardous, please complete details on the type of HAZMAT. Note: The HAZMAT Measure/Weight column refers to the Net Explosive Weight (NEW) of the item not the actual physical weight of the item(s).
D. ROUTE, FLIGHT, AND OTHER OPERATIONAL INFORMATION
1. The clearance is valid only for the itinerary as approved by PM/GPI and specified in the diplomatic clearance request.
2. A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) routing authorization is required in advance of any state aircraft operation by the following special interest countries: Cuba, Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), the People's Republic of China, the Russian Federation, Sudan, and Syria. Foreign government embassies of these countries must request and receive specific routing authorizations from the FAA. The FAA point of contact is shown in section E.
3. An aircraft may not land at an airport that has not been specified on the diplomatic clearance request and approved in advance by PM/GPI. The port of entry must be an airfield routinely serviced by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It is the foreign government’s responsibility to submit a complete manifest of both crew and passengers to CBP at the port of entry.
4. Countries wishing to land at a U.S. military installation also must have specific permission from the appropriate U.S. military service headquarters and be issued a MLAN. In addition, most military airfields require the issuance of a PPR number from the base of intended landing before final approval is provided. The U.S. military service headquarters will normally request, receive, and enter the PPR into the DCAS system. It is imperative that the requestor understand that the aircraft is NOT approved for landing at a military installation until the DCN, MLAN, and PPRs are issued and entered into DCAS. For changes to the DCN request, please specifically annotate in the “Comments” section of the DCN form. For example: Charleston AFB removed from itinerary and Dover AFB added; Landing time at Andrews AFB delayed 4 hours; aircraft tail number changed; HAZMAT added for delivery to Dover AFB, etc.
5. It is the requesting government’s responsibility to meet other U.S. government agency requirements: e.g., rules established by the Federal Aviation Administration, relevant port authorities, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health and Human Services, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Failure to comply with these agency procedures could result in penalties and affect issuance of future diplomatic clearances.
6. Please note the following requirements regarding diplomatic flights into the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area:
a. Washington National-Ronald Reagan Airport (KDCA) is NOT authorized for arrival or departure of foreign state aircraft.
b. Baltimore-Washington International Airport (KBWI) and Dulles International Airport (KIAD) are located inside the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA).
c. Joint Base Andrews (KADW) and Davison Army Airfield (KDAA) are located inside the Washington D.C. Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA).
d. For related information, refer to the International Flight Information Manual link for United States Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices at: http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/us_restrictions/ and read the Washington, D.C. ADIZ/FRA Warning Signal Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) prior to filing a flight plan to any airport inside the Washington DC SFRA.
E. POINTS OF CONTACT
1. For questions about diplomatic aircraft clearances, the PM/GPI point of contact at the Department of State is:
Mr. Rodney Bethea
Mr. George Renfro
2. For aircraft landing number authorizations at U.S. military airfields:
a. Air Force Aircraft Landing Authorization Numbers (ALAN):
Air Force Civil and Foreign Government Aviation Access Branch (AF/A3XJ)
Telephone: 757-225-5147 or 202-404-7890
b. Navy Aircraft Landing Authorization Numbers (NALAN):
OPNAV Navy Foreign Liaison Office (N2L)
c. Army Aircraft Landing Authorization Numbers (AALAN):
U.S. Army Aeronautical Services Agency (USAASA)
3. For Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Special Routing Authorization:
Program Manager for International Flight Operations Security (FAA AJR-222)