July 16, 2015

For those with no travel experience in Brazil, international handlers can help operators make the necessary arrangements before visiting South America’s largest country. Aside from selecting a flight-planning partner, companies should also consider the following practical advice on flying to Brazil.

1. Expect a Slower Pace
Flight crews should learn local procedures, and generally be prepared for processes to take longer than in the United States.

2. Get Your Visas in Order
Brazil’s visa requirements apply to crew and passengers alike, unless the crewmember carries a government-issued certificate for their job (which is the case for pilots and maintenance technicians, but not cabin crew). Additionally, medical certification must match the requirements of the license; that means a first-class medical for air transport pilots.

3. Keep Volcanic Activity in Mind
Weather briefings should include an assessment of volcanic activity in the Andes Mountains along South America’s western seaboard. The Andes hold about 2,000 volcanoes, with activity at up to a quarter of them at any given time. Volcanic ash can cause major air travel disruptions.

4. Check Ahead for Fuel, Maintenance and Ramp Services
Just as not all U.S. airports offer equal service levels, some of Brazil’s airports can fall short of business-aviation expectations; underground fuel, for example, is rare. Fuel trucks are the norm, and crowded ramps can contribute to delays. Also, most airports expect operators to supply their own tow bars to expedite ground handling, according to Brazilian authorities and Universal Weather & Aviation officials.

5. Identify Local Maintenance Contacts
Address the prospect of needing maintenance by seeking contact information for any authorized service providers from your aircraft, avionics and engine makers.

Bonus Tip: Pablo Peñalva, captain of international operations, with J.W. Childs Associates, L.P. and regional lead for South America for member of NBAA’s International Operators Committee provided the following guidance. “I would add that once an operator sets up handling services through an ISP [international service provider] for a given location in Brazil, I would highly recommend for captains to contact the local FBO or handling company ops managers in Brazil directly to re-confirm all services already in place, double checking all aspects of the operation that is about to take place and addressing potential last minute concerns prior to the trip.”

Peñalva added “The region of South America is pretty dynamic, and circumstances that may impact your flight operation negatively could unfold rather unexpectedly, such as a shortage of jet fuel, ATC strikes or demonstrations.”

To search for flight-planning service providers, visit NBAA’s Products & Services Directory.

This article was adapted from “Flying to Brazil: Make Advance Planning Your Goal,” which was published in the May/June 2014 issue of Business Aviation Insider. Learn more about NBAA’s magazine and view past issues at www.nbaa.org/insider.