Business Aviation in Africa 101: Planning for Aviation Ground Services
This business aviation blog post continues from our article titled: "Business Aviation in Africa 101: Flight Permits, Ground Handling, Visas, and Security."
For business aircraft operators, it’s best not to take service, aviation fuel, and ground handling service capabilities for granted when operating in many parts of Africa. Be sure to request and confirm all services as far in advance as possible in order to avoid potential delays and service issues at destination.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Are there communication challenges to consider?
Communication capabilities may be poor at your intended tech stops and destinations in Africa. Best practice is to have flight plans and weather briefings sent in advance of the planned flight leg – to multiple locations on the day of operation – to ensure that this information is received. Due to communication limitations, it’s recommended that arrangements for all services be requested well in advance. Five working days is recommended when submitting permit requests or arranging jet fuel uplifts, hotel reservations, and local ground transport. When traveling to remote destinations, ensure that your cell phone has coverage and ability to reach your 3rd-party provider. In some cases, you may want to consider carrying a satellite phone as a backup.
2. Are there jet fuel availability considerations?
Jet fuel uplifts in Africa should be arranged at least 48 hours in advance. A fuel release, along with your aviation fuel card, should be carried. As a backup, you may want to have consumer credit cards and cash. There are cases in Africa where fuelers may not accept credit that was previously arranged. Be aware, also, of fuel shortage and quality issues. Fuel shortages are normally notified via NOTAM, but, in some cases, there may be little or no advance notification provided. Backup plans are recommended when traveling to regions with frequent fuel issues, and this may involve a need for additional permits. Fuel quality issues, although rare, can occur at certain locations in Africa. Be sure to always request testing if there’s any doubt as to the quality of the fuel.
3. What about hotel considerations?
When available, it’s always best to try to book rooms in 4- or 5-star international hotel chains for crew accommodations. During major events at larger locations, there may be limited hotel options. At more remote locations, there will often be scarce hotel options, and you may be dealing with 3-star hotels, or (much) lower hotel standards.
4. How do we deal with AOGs in Africa?
In the event of an Aircraft on Ground (AOG) situation, you may need to have a professional aviation maintenance technician and parts flown to your location. Clearing replacement aircraft parts through customs and arranging ramp access for aviation maintenance technicians can be issues in Africa. Should you experience an AOG in Africa, you’ll require the assistance of your 3rd-party provider, ground handler, and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) support desk. Many operators to this part of the world carry onboard an aviation maintenance technician, with an enhanced spare parts fly-away kit, along with a list of all available maintenance support resources in the region.
When operating to more off-the-beaten-path destinations in Africa, always have a Plan B. Should fuel availability or quality become issues, or you find you need to exit a particular destination quickly, best practice is to have ready alternative plans and permits.
If you have any questions about this article, contact Christine Vamvakas at firstname.lastname@example.org.