Operating to Panama – Part 1: Flight Permits and Approvals
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operations to Panama.
When you conduct business aircraft operation to Panama, it’s best to ensure that all appropriate documentation has been forwarded to your 3rd-party provider and/or local ground handler in advance. It’s also important to confirm visa requirements, in advance of day of operation, and to be aware of all permit issues.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Landing and overflight permits
Permits are required for all private non-revenue and charter (non-scheduled commercial) landings and overflight of Panama. Official permit lead time is a minimum of 24 hours. As the process is automated, via a website, we often have success with short-notice permit requests. It’s best, however, to plan on a couple of days’ lead time – in the event there are communication issues. When you make permit requests online, a special form must be used, and this can be found on Panama’s Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) website.
For overflights be sure to permit when crossing San Andres Island (SKSP). Although these islands are within Panamanian airspace, they actually belong to Colombia, so you’ll require an overflight permit in this situation.
2. Permit requirements
The Pilot in Command (PIC) must have a type rating for the aircraft, a pilot license issued by the country where the aircraft is registered, and a valid medical certificate less than 12 months old. Flights by all aircraft over a maximum takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds must have a copilot, and both pilots must be type-rated for the aircraft. Documentation required prior to landing includes airworthiness certificate, a copy of the landing/overflight permit request, aircraft owner’s address and phone number, and a copy of your worldwide insurance policy. Best practice is to forward copies of this documentation to your 3rd-party provider or ground handler in advance, to ensure that there are no issues with permits. It’s not necessary to provide a local business contact when operating to Panama.
3. CAA operating hours
Operating hours for Panama CAA are Monday-Thursday, 0730-1530 local, and CAA shuts down for most public holidays. Note that a duty officer is available 24/7 to assist with any permit requests/issues. Public holidays in Panama include several one-of-a-kind holidays – such as "March Equinox," "Shout in Villa de los Santos," and "Colon Day." As the majority of the country is Roman Catholic, most Christian holidays are observed.
4. Domestic flights authorization
An Internal Circulation Permit must be applied for, separately, for domestic flights inside Panama. Application for this permit is made upon arrival in Panama, at your first point of entry, and there’s a fee for this. An Internal Circulation Permit requires that the following documentation be submitted with the request:
- registration and airworthiness certificates
- worldwide insurance policy (listing the company, policy number, expiration date, and geographical coverage)
- Pilot licenses (both sides) and type ratings, or training certificates, for both pilots
5. Permit validity/revisions
Panama permit validity is +/- one day. It’s not necessary to cancel any permit that will not be used as this occurs automatically when the aircraft fails to enter Panama flight information region. Minor permit revisions are not a major issue, but you should e-mail a notification to CAA (no response should be anticipated). For major permit changes, such as PIC, Second in Command (SIC) or Zulu date changes, it’s generally best to submit a new permit application as the online process is so quick. You’ll be issued a new permit number, but in our experience CAA will only charge for the permit actually used.
6. Additional reading: Operating to Panama – Series Index
Note: Links will be updated as articles are published.
Always confirm that PIC/SIC have appropriate pilot license endorsements and crew medicals ready for presentation on arrival. Permit applications for Panama are, generally, refreshingly straightforward and quick to process.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which covers airport and operational tips when traveling to Panama.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Panama, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.