Business Aviation in Venezuela Series: Flight Planning, Weather, & NOTAMs
This is a post by author Walter Lindo. Walter is Managing Director for Universal Aviation Venezuela – Caracas. Walter is an expert on business aircraft operations in Venezuela and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating in Venezuela and continues from our last article: "Business Aviation in Venezuela Series: Security Planning."
While Venezuela is a straightforward operating environment from the flight planning perspective, there are unique considerations to be mindful of in this operating arena. If you have unpaid navigation (nav) fees, for example, your outbound flight plan will not be accepted by Venezuelan authorities.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. What ATC procedures should be considered?
While Air Traffic Control (ATC) procedures in Venezuela are all standard, business aircraft operators should consider language barriers, particularly when operating to airports other than Caracas (SVMI). It’s important to speak slowly and clearly and to use standard phraseology.
2. Is any special or required aircraft equipment needed?
All aircraft traveling to or overflying Venezuela must be equipped with TCASII, but there’s no current requirement for RVSM or MNPS. As the new ICAO 2012 flight plan format took effect in November 2012, be sure to provide updated information, in advance, if your ground handler in Venezuela will be filing flight plans for you. Venezuela is somewhat unique in that flight plans may not be completed in writing by hand and must always be printed. For this reason it’s best to have your 3rd-party provider prepare and submit flight plans.
3. How do we confirm that no nav fees are outstanding?
In order to file a flight plan in Venezuela, all outstanding government fees must be paid and up to date. If any nav fees are owed, this will delay your operation.
Operators must contact Instituto Nacional de Aeronautica Civil (INAC) directly via e-mail at email@example.com or via the INAC website to determine if there are outstanding navigation fees. If nav fees are outstanding, you’ll be permitted to enter Venezuela but won’t be able to leave until fees are settled. You will not, however, be permitted to overfly the country if nav fees are outstanding. This can result in a last-minute diversion around Venezuela.
4. What considerations are there for the day of operation?
A flight plan stays on file and is active for one hour. If a flight delay is anticipated, advise your ground handler while the flight plan is still active so that it can be delayed. It’s easier to delay an existing flight plan than to file a new one. If there are last-minute airport closures – as a result of a presidential movement for example – ATC will advise the ground handler.
5. Are there special departure procedures to be aware of?
Every airport in Venezuela has specific departure procedures, so it’s important to ensure that your flight plan is correct. When providing flight plan requests to your ground handler, always confirm that there will be no issues with departure routes from the airport. In order to file a flight plan, be aware that, for operations of up to 72 hours, it is mandatory to have the following original documents onboard the aircraft as they may be requested by the local airport INAC agent upon departure prior to filing the flight plan:
2) Both crew members’ licenses and medical certificates
3) Original insurance certificate with wet seal
4) Airworthiness certificate
5) Aircraft registry
6) Copy of notification form sent to INAC (for landing in the country)
6. What are tech stop considerations?
Tech stops do not require permits or Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine clearance so long as no passengers or crew members embark or disembark while in Venezuela.
7. What weather considerations are there to be mindful of?
Airports in Venezuela rarely close due to weather issues; however, there’s a rainy season from July to November to be aware of.
8. What are the best sources for local weather and NOTAMs?
Local weather and Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) for Venezuela – along with other information, including fuel prices – can be found on the Venezuelan Civil Aviation website. This is a public-access website, but it’s all in Spanish. There’s also a Twitter address available – @AviationYV – that provides information on weather, NOTAMs, fuel prices, and incidents. Be mindful that all NOTAMs are published in Spanish.
9. What is best practice for day of operation?
Have your ground handler provide full weather and NOTAM updates pre-departure. It’s always best to work with a local ground handler when in Venezuela as NOTAMS are in Spanish. Local currency controls can complicate payment of local services as in some cases local currency may be required.
When you operate to Venezuela, it’s best practice to use the services of a local ground handler for filing and/or revising flight plans, obtaining weather/NOTAMs, and arranging local credit.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Venezuela, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Later, we’ll discuss permits for Venezuela and their impact on your trip.