The best-laid plans of mice, men, and business jet operators.

What do complex jigsaw puzzles and international flight planning have in common?

The obvious answer is they both have a lot of small, individual pieces that you have to fit together in a precise way to make the outcome a success. But, if any of those pieces don’t fall into place, the result will ruin your day.

To make it even that much more challenging, if the difficulty factor of pre-pandemic international flight planning was comparable to a 250-piece box, today it’s like taking on the infamous “White Hell” 1000-piece mind bender.

Why the big change? Well, the world you’ll be flying over today is a much more complicated place. Take flying from the U.S. to Western Europe to China, for example. Not too long ago, you could plan to take the Great Circle Route through Russian airspace – not today. With current airspace restrictions, the long way is the only way.

Of course, Russian restrictions aren’t your only airspace issue. It seems like politically-mandated “no-fly zones” are popping up all over the map.

And let’s not overlook Mother Nature. No matter your stance on “Global Warming,” she’s alwaysvmore than willing and able to toss a storm or other natural disaster in your path.

So, unless you’re flying an ultra-long-range jet, today’s fly-around-the-bad-places-routing canvmean at least an extra fuel stop or possibly the need to do a crew swap. More pieces add morevlayers of complexity and risk to your best-laid plans.

Ready or not. AOGs will happen 

Any DOM will tell you that there has to be a sub-chapter of Murphy’s Law that states, “The farther (yes, farther is the proper usage here) you get from home, the more likely you are to have something go wrong.”

And since the reason the majority of business aircraft owners purchase their airplanes in the first place is to go far away from home, dealing with the inevitable AOG situation is something every DOM will deal with sooner or later.

That’s why experienced flight departments make prepping for the unforeseen part of their pre-trip planning. It’s not only dealing with major mechanical problems. In most instances, unexpected downtime results from “the simple things” like changing a tire, brake liner, or servicing oxygen bottles.

A good rule of thumb is to locate all of the factory-supported MRO services of the airports listed on the trip manifest and have all the contact information readily at hand. Since there aren’t that many service centers outside of the U.S. and Western Europe, experienced operators have a list of the services available at airports all along their proposed route. If they need to make an unplanned stop, at least try to put down at an airport with the capabilities that their aircraft may need.

Another excellent insider tip is to pre-contact other flight departments operating similar aircraft types in the area. Again, not only those based at the trip’s destination but also those along the route. Many large flight departments have spare parts and technical expertise available that can help take the agony out of an AOG.

Of course, it’s no surprise that any seasoned international operator will load up with spare parts and tools for just such occurrences – many even take their DOM along to oversee any unplanned maintenance. But you can’t take everything with you. So know, or at least plan, before you go.

While we’re on the subject of what operators often take on the airplane, there are mixed feelings about including the aircraft’s operational and maintenance logbooks. Depending on the aircraft’s age, those volumes can add up to a significant weight.

And, if it comes down to logbooks or extra fuel, the Jet-A wins every time.

So, should you need remote maintenance, you may have to wait for the appropriate logbooks to be shipped to the aircraft’s location. It’s not required often, but it does happen. But do you really want those very high-value documents put at risk? Probably not.

Even if you use the services of a private onboard courier service, the packages can still be held up in customs for a variety of reasons. All of which will add to the already stressful remote AOG situation.

If you’ve stayed with me this far, you know the simple solution is to have all of those logbooks digital. It’s just one less puzzle piece you’ll have to deal with.

JSSI Traxxall now integrates with Bluetail