April 8, 2016

Flying to Brazil can be complicated, and experts say operators should be prepared ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, taking place Aug. 5 to 21 in Rio de Janeiro.

“From a procedural standpoint, Brazil is one of the most intricate countries in South America to operate into,” said Avplan Operations Manager Phil Tyler, who spoke at NBAA’s recent International Operators Conference. “Rio is an absolute situation in flux. We have updates, but the airspace situation will change between now and August.”

With the second largest general aviation fleet in the world, Brazil also has three types of overflight and landing permits, temporary admission needed for customs and emergency equipment requirements for overflying the Amazon. During the Olympics, even more regulations will be in place.

So far, the Olympics airspace regulations and documentation that have been released are driven by safety, with a focus on commercial traffic. However, some restrictions will look familiar to operators who flew to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. View NBAA’s 2014 World Cup travel resources.

Similar to the 2014 World Cup, the airspace in various radii of key sites will be organized into exclusion areas. All three areas will be in place up to FL145, except in Rio de Janeiro, where they’ll extend up to FL195:

  • Reserved Area (white): Varying extent. The white zone will cover most of the airspace over Olympic cities. In addition to Rio, five other Brazilian cities will host events. Aircraft flying in the white zone must follow flight plan rules, have a transponder and maintain radio communication with ATC.
  • Restricted Area (yellow): 7 nautical miles from event coordinates. Aside from medevac and government-designated flights, GA aircraft operating in yellow zones must follow specific security measures, such as third-party inspections and 24/7 surveillance while parked.
  • Prohibited Area (red): 4 nautical miles from events. Only military, on-duty police and medevac flights are permitted in the red zone.

“These zones are centered on coordinates for event security,” said Cynthia Oliveira, director of airport services for Líder Aviação. “If the event is taking place in a stadium, then the stadium will be considered the epicenter of the zone.”

For example, in Rio itself, there will be five red zones, centered on the Barra Olympic Park, the Deodoro Aquatics Center, the Copacabana and other venues. During the Olympic Games, the red zones will cover most of the airspace over the city.

Rio’s two largest airports – Galeão (SBGL) and Santos Dumont (SBRJ) – will be within yellow zones. At Galeão, parking will be limited to five hours during the games; at Santos Dumont, two hours. Most general aviation aircraft will have to drop off passengers and reposition. Most will also have to stop at another Brazilian airport before landing in Rio, experts said.

“We still don’t have confirmation whether international flights will be able to fly nonstop into Rio from abroad, so plan to make a tech stop before flying to Rio,” said Oliveira.