Business Aircraft Ops to Chile: Flight Planning and Weather
This is a post by author Mauricio Castillo. Mauricio is the FBO Supervisor at Aviasur, a Universal Aviations® Certified ground handler, which has an FBO in Santiago, Chile and provides ground support throughout the country. Mauricio is an expert on business aircraft operations in Chile and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating to Chile and continues from our last article: “Business Aircraft Ops to Chile: Fuel & Security.“
While flight plan filing for Chile is fairly straightforward, there are some requirements and regulatory nuances business aircraft operators need to be aware of in order to maximize operating flexibility to this region.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Filing flight plans
Flight plans for Chile are normally filed by your ground handler, and there’s no requirement for the pilot in command (PIC) to personally contact or visit the local air traffic control (ATC) office—like in some other regions in South America. Flight plans remain valid for two hours. Note that if your flight is delayed beyond the two hour validation period you’ll need to refile. However, it’s possible to obtain an extension to an existing flight plan when requested prior to expiration of the validity period. This can be done by either the ground handler or PIC contacting ATC.
2. Communicating with ATC
In Chile flight plans are normally filed by ground handlers via email although filing may also be done via AFTN. Also, ATC personnel at major airports in the country speak English.
3. Permit numbers on flight plans
When flying to Chile it’s important that the permit confirmation number is noted on your flight plan. While this is optional for departures, it’s always necessary for arrivals. If the permit confirmation is not noted on your arrival flight plan, ATC will contact the ground handler to confirm that you have a permit. If you arrive in Chile without a permit your ground handler can obtain a permit for you after landing, by requesting it from ATC. However, this option should always be avoided unless there is an emergency.
4. Equipment and certification requirements
Traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) II and reduced vertical separation minimum (RVSM) equipment and certifications are optional for Chile. However, it’s always best to check and confirm any equipment/certification requirements prior to day of operation. While Stage 2 noise restrictions do not currently exist for most of Chile, Santiago (SCEL) has night noise restrictions in place, and these tend to change on a frequent basis. It’s therefore important to always review NOTAMs for any noise restrictions when operating to SCEL.
5. Day of departure
It’s recommended that crew arrive at the airport two hours prior to the estimated time of departure (ETD). This will allow sufficient time to obtain needed fuel, clear departure customs and immigration, and ensure the flight plan is on file.
6. Easter Island operations
Special requirements are in place for operations to/from Easter Island (SCIP), and flight plans must always be filed at least 24 hours prior to departure. Airport slots are needed for SCIP, and equal time points (ETPs) must be noted on flight plans.
Airport slots are obtained via ATC. Once requested, ATC will provide you with approval of arrival and departure slot times, though these may not be what you requested. Note that if the approved slot times do not match the flight plan request, your flight plan will be cancelled.
Due to the isolation of this location, and preference given to scheduled commercial and air ambulance flights, general aviation (GA) slot options may be limited at times. Therefore, it’s important to review all procedures published by Chilean authorities to ensure you’re aware of all applicable local rules and restrictions. Due to stringent requirements and procedures in place at SCIP it’s always important to work with an experienced ground handler.
7. Weather considerations in the south
Summer season in Chile is December-March while the winter period is June-September. Southern Chile can be very cold during the winter with substantial snowfall and during summer this area often experiences strong surface winds. There are times when Punta Arenas (SCCI) shuts down temporarily due to snow accumulation or strong winds. When operating to SCCI it’s important to ensure you have an updated and current weather briefing as the nearest adequate alternate is about one-and-a-half hours flying time away. The good news is that SCCI has snow removal and de-ice equipment available and these services are usually quite efficient.
8. Fog considerations
While weather conditions in most of Chile are mild, SCEL experiences occasional fog issues, especially during winter months. Fog conditions are most prevalent during winter mornings, sunrise to noon, but there are cases where fog can reduce visibility to 100 or 200 meters until as late as 1800 local.
9. Meteorology resources
All airports in Chile have meteorology offices available where crews can obtain weather briefings. However, note that there may be language barriers to consider at smaller airport locations. Both local and international NOTAMs, in Spanish and English, are available upon request. To obtain this information at the meteorology offices you’ll need an Internet login and this is available upon request via your ground handler.
10. Additional reading: Business Aircraft Ops to Chile – Series Index
Note: Links will be updated as articles are published.
- Part 1 – airport operations
- Part 2 – ground handling
- Part 3 – customs, immigration and quarantine
- Part 4 – airport slots and permits
- Part 5 – aviation fuel and security
- Part 6 – flight planning and weather
- Part 7 – additional operating considerations
Operating to Chile is generally straight forward when it comes to flight plans and weather. It is important to note your permit confirmation in ICAO section of the flight plan. For operation to Easter Island we recommend 48-72 hours notification to secure an airport slot and then ensure that the flight plan is on file at least 24 hours prior to operation. Ensure you review all applicable NOTAMs for this location well prior to departure.
Later, we’ll discuss hotels and local area information for Chile and their impact on your trip.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Chile, contact me at email@example.com.