So you're off to Budapest for some business and, perhaps, a bowl of goulash. With a population of 1.7 million people, Budapest is the capital, financial and cultural center, and largest city of Hungary and Central Europe. Situated astride the Danube River — Buda on one side and Pest on the other — it also ranks as one of the most beautiful and oldest settlements on the Continent, hidden away from the West behind the Iron Curtain for almost 50 years.

Transiting to Budapest is fairly straightforward for North American operators, but watch out for potential traps: SAFA checks and ETS. The former, the European Aviation Safety Agency's Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft, is an unannounced radome-to-empennage ramp inspection of the aircraft and its and the crew's documents (see “City at a Glance” for a list).

The latter, of course is the European Union's Emissions Trading System, which is fully in force now, requiring operators landing in or departing from an E.U. airport to track the CO2 spewed out by their aircraft's engines from the flight's point of origin to destination, then pay a hefty tax based upon a formula involving aircraft type and trip length. While the ETS is being challenged by the U.S., Russia, China and other countries, it is unclear at this time whether business aircraft will be folded into any agreement to eliminate the point-of-origin provision.

Hungary observes ICAO/Pans Ops, QNH altimetry in feet; its airspace is fully RVSM, as per Eurocontrol, of which it is member; and the country has been surveyed to the WGS-84 geodetic standard. No visas are required for U.S. citizens.

Budapest's primary airport is Ferenc (i.e., Franz) Liszt International (LHBP), located about 10 sm southeast of downtown. It boasts a General Aviation Center with its own parking ramp, and customs processing on site. Jet-A is readily available. While there is a restriction against nonscheduled aircraft operations between 2200 and 0600 local, prior permission to arrive or depart during that period can be obtained through the airport flight coordination office.

Modern Budapest, graced with stunning art and ageless architecture, is an amalgam of the many cultures that contributed to its history as one of the oldest continuously occupied settlements in Europe, dating from the late Bronze Age when the Celtic culture established what evolved into Buda and Pest.

For a period under the Roman Empire, Budapest served as a provincial capital, then in the ninth century it was taken over by the Magyars, ancestors of today's Hungarians. But after a flirtation with the European Renaissance in the 15th century, Budapest and the Kingdom of Hungary fell under the forces of Suleiman the Magnificent, remaining part of the Ottoman Empire for 150 years.

It became an international city during the 17th and 18th centuries and, in the late 19th century, the second capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The end of World War I brought the dissolution of the Empire (reducing Hungary's territory by 72%) and a turbulent ride through the Depression and World War II, when Hungary was invaded by Nazi Germany.

Like other former Soviet satellite states, Hungary established a Communist government after World War II and was drawn into the USSR. However, the brutality of the Soviet-style government resulted in a full-blown revolt in 1956, centered in Budapest, that ultimately failed when Moscow reacted with massive military retaliation at great cost to the freedom fighters.

It took another 12 years before liberalizations were instituted in the Hungarian economy, dubbed “Goulash Communism.” After the breakup of the USSR, Hungary established a parliamentary democracy and instituted free market reforms in its economy. Admitted into the European Union in 2004, today Hungary's private sector accounts for 80% of the nation's GDP.

Considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Budapest — like Prague in the Czech Republic — was sequestered behind the Iron Curtain from much of the West for nearly half a century, but since Hungary's liberation in the early 1990s, it has become a major tourist as well as business destination — and once again assumed its status as a truly international city. BCA

BCA appreciates the assistance it received for this report from Rockwell Flight Information Solutions and Manager of Operations Services Matt Pahl.