The Rio Olympics opened this weekend without notable general aviation traffic flow issues, despite heightened security procedures. “The lack of issues is a testament to planning,” Universal Weather and Aviation operations communications manager Christine Vamvakas told AIN, citing presentations over the last year to inform clients. “We were proactive in communicating to clients as new regulatory demands appeared, avoiding surprises.”
The Brazilian air force’s Center for Management of Air Navigation (CGNA) set up a “master room” to track all aircraft movements during the Games, including teams, heads of state and business aviation. One general aviation logistics manager praised the help and cooperation of CGNA and the Secretariat of Civil Aviation, and corrections made since the 2014 World Cup.
Reported security delays have been minimal, despite new security inspections for business aircraft; heightened screening of domestic airline passengers; red, yellow and white airspace restriction zones; and military vetting of the limited number of aircraft providing aerial press coverage.
However, challenges remain. Rio’s downtown Santos Dumont airport will be closed 4.5 hours every afternoon from now until August 18 for sailing events in the bay, but is open all night for business aviation. Vamvakas said that airport departures are more difficult due to last-minute change requests and she thus is advising clients to “wait a day or two to leave” after the August 21 closing ceremony.