A pilot from down there drew my attention to it, commenting on the timing coincidence
FWIW I am certain that drugs via GA are extremely rare – simply because one is so obvious doing something dodgy like that with a plane, and those involved at two ends of the transaction are very likely to be under surveillance anyway.
It can work for a while, but I suppose it is just a matter of time before someone comes on to them and they get caught.
I know the former owner of the airplane involved in this deal. It only took a few months between the time he sold it and delivered it in Germany, and when it was arrested. The guy who acquired the Cessna allegedly had other airplanes elsewhere in Europe. One may only guess what they were used for.
I have just got a very interesting email back from Merida LEBZ
If it is technical scale for refueling and you will departure again to your final destination, it won’t need control immigration here.
If this airport is not your final arrival, you don’t need control immigration.
I have not seen this before in Europe.
I sometimes do a touch and go at an intermediate airfield while on an international flightplan, and no one seems to mind. I put the airfield in the route section of the flightplan and tell ATC I’m doing it. The transponder is on the whole time and the plane never stops. I suppose a stop and go would be possible, but the loading or unloading would have to be pretty quick
The only drug-running I’ve heard of is into the USA from Mexico or the Caribbean, and it might be mostly urban myth. Still, I have been told by an instructor that the airforce will shoot you down if you cross the ADIZ going to Key West without a defense flightplan
As I understand it, you don’t have to go through customs and immigration for a technical stop unless you want to. You stay airside and do the formalities at the final destination.
This remains a very interesting topic, which has come up many times.
The argument that you should not be able to “clear customs” with just an airside stop, let alone a touch and go , is that the next place you fly to has no assurance that you have complied with the requirements of their country.
For example, take UK – La Rochelle – Merida. Merida is 72hrs PNR for the police for a non schengen flight (yeah, I know, a local invention, the AIP says nothing about that). But if you could do a quick stop at La Rochelle, you avoid the PNR totally, so you defeat the intent of Schengen which is that you are examined at the Schengen border, but can move freely afterwards.
We should be grateful that there are some airports which support this facility! But AFAIK most don’t.
I know a pilot who used to T&G at a certain N French airport, and did this for many years as a super quick way to clear into Schengen. He doesn’t fly anymore however. And the now-gone Shoreham-Paris commercial flight used to T&G at Le Touquet (French customs told them they will reinstate customs at Pontoise, but failed to do so) which is about as official (and obviously visible) as you can get.
I know a pilot who used to T&G at a certain N French airport, and did this for many years as a super quick way to clear into Schengen
… These things are more frequent, it’s just the people benefiting froim it are wary of publicising on the open internet, for fear of the “tap being closed” if higher powers were to be made aware.
touch and go at an intermediate airfield while on an international flightplan
As I was taught, a flight plan covers one and exactly one take-off and one and exactly one landing.
the next place you fly to has no assurance that you have complied with the requirements of their country
Interestingly, at Lille, where I only landed to passer la douane, they looked at my passport and said something like “if you’re only landing here to clear customs, you don’t need to clear customs.” Apparently they’re only interested if there’s passengers i.e. not ‘crew’, or if you go landside e.g. into Lille town.
… These things are more frequent
But surely the destination airport receives a flightplan with a UK (non-Schengen) point of departure? ATC aren’t interested as it isn’t part of their job? Or do you need to file two flightplans, closing and one and activating the second during the touch and go? This seems unlikely.
You would file two flight plans, otherwise there is no point.
The idea behind a T&G or similar is that you save time. Whenever you land somewhere, you don’t know how long it will take. I normally allow 1hr, which sometimes is just right but sometimes is 45 mins longer than needed.
Any T&G method has to be agreed with the tower there, because they have to pretend you landed, so they enter the relevant AFTN messages into the system. Basically the pilot needs to have a friendly relationship with the tower. The guy I knew years ago said it took him years to establish this. Obviously he spoke fluent French.
“if you’re only landing here to clear customs, you don’t need to clear customs
He didn’t understand the regs
ATC aren’t interested as it isn’t part of their job?
Sometimes they certainly are aware, and try to stop you. Very rare, but sporadic reports do exist from e.g. Greece, France, even UK.
From ICAO Annex 9, Ch3 , section L:
3.54 Where airport facilities permit, Contracting States shall make provision by means of direct transit areas or other
arrangements, whereby crew, passengers and their baggage, arriving from another State and continuing their journey to a
third State on the same flight or another flight from the same airport on the same day may remain temporarily within the
airport of arrival without undergoing border control formalities to enter the State of transit.
I am not sure this is the current version but I do not think the spirit has changed.
If you land or “land” at a Schengen customs airport during “customs operating hours” from a third country then it is the responsibility of that airport to ensure there is a customs clearance procedure in place unless your subsequent stop is non-Schengen. In the latter case, assuming the Customs procedure is waived per the above ICAO ref, then I guess you could tell the country of origin you are going to Schengen and the country of destination that you are coming from Schengen. This would be a circunvention of immigration and customs regulations of both countries under the responsibility of the captain. Consequences if caught can easily be immediate imprisonment depending on where you are heading to (for example US or Algiers) , especially if people other than crew or cargo of any kind are involved…
Does the above ICAO exemption also work when doing a tech stop via GAR arrival and departure forms?