International Operations - Region by region

 - May 16, 2008, 9:27 AM


Ed Boyo, director at Landover Aviation of Lagos, Nigeria, said, “The air transportation industry in Africa was dealt a huge setback after September, with a loss of consumer confidence and the bankruptcy of some airlines. This has meant an increased interest in business aviation.”

But terrorist threats exist in the region. Boyo believes targets, such as business aircraft, are often linked to the country of origin of the aircraft, regardless of whether a particular company is directly involved with an issue or not. “There is a need to wake up,” he said. “We are talking about premeditated actions by organized, sophisticated political groups. An N-numbered aircraft sitting on a ramp by itself a long way from home can be perceived as a threat.”

According to Boyo, airport access and the inability to guarantee security is still an impediment to business aviation in the region.

Permits in Africa are required everywhere. Radar coverage is still very limited. All aircraft should monitor and broadcast their position on the in-flight broadcast frequency, 126.9 MHz. U.S. crews should be alert for criminal activities, internal conflicts and disputes, such as in Sierra Leone and Angola.

Angola does not allow overflights, and aircraft attempting to operate in Burundi without specific permission may be shot down. The U.S. has lifted restrictions to the Sudan, but the Sudanese CAA has not. Libya is off limits, with U.S. sanctions still in place. Liberia is in a state of emergency due to armed conflict. Somalia should be avoided at all costs.

Health and transportation facilities in Africa are limited. Bring anti-malaria tablets and wear long-sleeve clothing to avoid insect bites. Malaria can take two weeks to incubate, so you might not recognize the illness until you’re back home. Boyo suggested pilots “avoid the do-it-yourself approach in Africa.” Some regions may not even have the necessary funds to reply to your specific requests, which can sometimes make obtaining permits difficult.


Universal’s Keith Foreman said, “During this time of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, it is extremely important for crews to be aware of the nationality of all passengers in case of a diversion. Many countries in the region will not allow a landing by aircraft carrying Israelis. There are many restrictions about which countries you may overfly if you begin a leg in Israel, too.” Iraq is totally off limits.

Israel will not accept incomplete permit applications. Overflights of Israel are not permitted and the West Bank and Gaza should be avoided.

In Turkey, slots are required and the conflict over Cyprus makes flights there difficult. Cabotage is an issue if flying within Turkey.

In Saudi Arabia, passengers with a passport containing an Israeli stamp will not be allowed into the country. Many passengers and flight crews carry two passports from their country to solve this problem.

ATC radar coverage in Iran is quite good. While not an official participant in RVSM, Iranian ATC is applying RVSM separation to all traffic.

Expect random airway closures in Pakistan. No flights to or from Israel are allowed. Tensions are still high between India and Pakistan, while the conflict in Afghanistan threatens Pakistan’s northwestern border.

In Afghanistan, crews are reminded that Islamic rules still function in most parts of the country’s society. Don’t bring alcohol, drugs or pornographic material. This region is also reported to have a huge rise in tuberculosis cases. Armed conflicts near the Pakistani border are still taking place as American and allied troops search for Al Qaeda militia. Rumors say Al Qaeda forces are offering locals up to $100,000 for any captured Westerners.


RVSM is practically everywhere, including China. Midway Island no longer offers services. Wake and Johnson Island may also cease service in the near future, but no date has been set, raising Etops and tech-stop concerns. Ongoing civil unrest continues in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Philippines. No direct flights to mainland China from Taiwan are permitted.

In Indonesia, permits for landings and overflights normally take 10 days. East Timor is still under UN control. A malaria vaccination is recommended.

Papua New Guinea is reported to be one of the most lawless countries on Earth.

In Malaysia, holders of Serbian, Yugoslav or Israeli passports need prior permission to enter.

Australia does not allow Stage 2 aircraft to enter the country. Services are excellent but fees are high and ground procedures to the Far East can be rigid.

In Japan, Narita’s new runway may make the slot issue worse, since slots will be runway-specific. If your slot is for the shorter runway and conditions warrant the longer one, you may face delays. The World Cup runs May 31 to June 30 at 20 sites around Japan and Korea. Expect slot shortages, as well as hotel and ground transportation problems.

In India, Mumbai is the country’s center of business aviation. Delhi is also very good. Hangar space is critical and parts scarce. Airports often have limited hours. Air Defense runs the ATC system. It typically takes 45 min to turn a flight plan around, and it is not a good country for last-minute changes to flight plans. Flights to Tibet are impossible.

In Myanmar (formerly Burma), issuance of landing and overflight permits takes seven days. No in-country permits are issued.


Expect full-compliance random checks from customs and immigration–now delegated to the FBOs– upon arrival. Passports are necessary. Having copies of the aircraft registration, airworthiness certificate, the pilot’s licenses and medical and all standard customs forms ready can speed an arrival. Agricultural issues are a big concern. All food must be removed from the aircraft upon arrival from the Far East. Separate trash from food to avoid delays.


RVSM is everywhere in Europe between FL 290 and FL 410, with no exceptions. ATC has restricted non-RVSM aircraft to FL 280 and below, often causing congestion at FL 270 and FL 280. Non-RVSM aircraft are not allowed to climb or descend through RVSM airspace. More airports in the region imposed noise restrictions last month–although the hush-kit ban has been lifted–while 8.33-kHz spacing starts in October above FL 245. Most flights in eastern Europe require permits. Many have slot issues as well. Single currency took effect in January in most EU countries, but not in the UK.

In the UK, Heathrow and Gatwick slot issues have eased a bit, but parking is still a major issue. Security and access to aircraft is tight. Stansted offers easy slot availability. Northolt fees are quite heavy. Farnborough is limited to Stage 3 aircraft only.

In France, the Cannes Film Festival and Formula One racing begin this month in Nice. Slots are on a first-come, first-served basis. Montpellier is a two-hour drive to Nice.

Slots are required at all major airports, in Germany, but are not difficult to obtain. Tegel and Templehof are Stage 3 only. Schonefeld allows Stage 2, but with restrictions.

Italy is notorious for pop-up notams and wildcat strikes canceled at a moment’s notice. Naples often offers overnight parking only to based aircraft on Friday and Saturday.

Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey, have problems parking large aircraft and require prior coordination. Sabiha is not a recommended alternate.

Permits are required for multiple stops within Russia, even for a tech stop in Moscow. Sheremetyevo restricts access to business aircraft. Vnukovo’s general aviation terminal has customs and immigration, but it’s a long taxi ride to almost anywhere. Domodedovo was renovated, with new runway lights and ILS, but it is an hour’s drive from Moscow. Russia limits polar flights from North America to two per hour. Permits require 45 days.


Distances are vast, with few alternates. Airports contain many unlit taxiways and poor signage. Only 70 South American airports have an ILS, and 17 of them are in Brazil. Crews should remove tags and any clothing that identify them as pilots when leaving the airport. Overflight permits are required in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay. Yellow fever exists in Brazil, Peru, Columbia, Ecuador and Bolivia. All aircraft must carry original paperwork–copies are not sufficient. Bolivia, Venezuela, Peru and Columbia are not WGS-84 compliant.

Brazil requires notarized copies of aircraft and pilot documents. All pilots must be type rated in the aircraft. Officially, pilots don’t need visas, but they are recommended. If you need to leave Brazil on the airlines, visas are required. Fuel taxes for flights within the country are astronomical.

In Argentina, there are rapid political changes and looting due to the recession.

Columbia is still immersed in a 38-year-old civil war, which includes drug trafficking and acts of terror. Al Qaeda presence in this country is possible.


Major credit cards are not widely accepted. Use your street smarts in the region. It is not difficult to get additional security help in the Caribbean.

In Mexico, permits are required, but they can be delivered quickly if needed. Keep the engines running after you land at Toluca for the federal inspection.

In El Salvador, aircraft with 12 or more seats must land at San Salvador. Many people here carry guns.

Guatemala has a major crime problem. In Honduras, roads are rough, travel is slow and amenities are few.

Nicaragua is more politically stable than before. It is tough to find a handler who speaks good English in this country.

Trinidad opened a new airport hotel which eliminates the “exciting” trip downtown to the Hilton. All business aircraft must arrive at the new terminal before heading for the old remote parking lot.