Using Santa Maria (LPAZ) as a GA Tech Stop: Part 1 – Airport and Local Area
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating through Santa Maria Island in the Azores.
Located in the Portuguese territory of the Azores, between the U.S. and Africa, Santa Maria (LPAZ) is a great tech stop for general aviation (GA) operators. This location is frequently used by operators traveling between South America and Europe and between the Caribbean and Middle East. LPAZ is also convenient on great circle routings between the U.S. east coast and Africa.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Airport overview
LPAZ is a GA-friendly airport of entry (AOE) in the region. This location offers full service support, GA-savvy ground handling, and a good selection of ground support equipment (GSE). Credit arrangements for fuel, services, and airport fees are available with advance notice. LPAZ does not need prior permission required (PPR) or airport slots. Landing permits are not needed for private non-revenue flights, and charter (non-scheduled commercial) operations don’t require a permit if it’s a technical stop. No crew/passenger visas are required for tech stops at LPAZ, so long as crew/passengers do not depart/embark the aircraft. LPAZ parking stands are all taxi in/out, so towbars are not needed. LPAZ has a single 10,000 foot runway, and weather issues are rare at this location. Average tech stop turnaround time is 45 minutes, depending upon aircraft type and fuel uplift volume.
2. Operating hours
Normal airport operating hours are 0645 – 2130 local with a curfew period between 2130 – 0645 local. Airport overtime is available, upon request, but requests must be submitted prior to 2000 local, day of operation, and additional fees apply. Approximate cost of LPAZ airport overtime is 700 – 800 Euros for each two hour period, but it’s best to check on the costs in advance to ensure this cost hasn’t changed.
3. LPAZ limitations
While not a frequent occurrence, bird strikes do happen from time to time. Note that LPAZ has no hangar space available for transient operations.
4. Arrival restrictions
Note that all flights arriving/departing LPAZ must be coming from/going to an international AOE, except for flights within the Schengen zone. Note that Stage II aircraft must obtain permission from Portugal Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) prior to operating to LPAZ. It’s recommended that at least four working days to ensure proper approvals are obtained.
5. Aviation fuel uplifts
Aviation fuel uplifts at LPAZ are available during normal fuel delivery hours of 0800-2200 local. It’s recommended that 24 hours’ notice be given prior to any fuel uplift. If you require fuel on short notice it’s best to contact the local fuel supplier directly by phone.
6. Security screening
Security screening procedures are in place at LPAZ for passengers, crew and baggage. Crewmembers must have security and/or company IDs available as these may be requested.
7. In-flight catering considerations
As this is a smaller island location, advance arrangement is recommended for in-flight catering uplifts. Suggested lead time for a catering order is 24-48 hours. While airline in-flight catering is available at LPAZ most GA operators opt to uplift catering from local restaurants/hotels. Be aware that there may be limitations on certain fresh produce, wines and specialty catering items due to the Azores isolation from the mainland. The islands are known for their fine seafoods – particularly local cod – so it’s recommended to opt for local seafood with catering orders.
8. Security, hotels and local transport
There are currently no security concerns for LPAZ or the Azores. Adequate, although not “high-end” by Western standards, hotel accommodations are available at Santa Maria for passengers/crew remaining overnight. Note that there may be rental vehicle limitations at this location, and preferred types of vehicles may not be available.
9. Local area
The Azores is made up of nine volcanic islands positioned about 850 miles west of Continental Portugal. The island of Santa Maria has a local population of under 6000 and the main town – Vila do Porto – is under four miles from LPAZ. Scheduled air services operate between Santa Maria and the mainland while inter-island transport is provided by either ferry services (during Spring and Summer) or year-round scheduled deHavilland Dash 8 Q400/800 air services.
10. Security fees
Note that Portugal’s National Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC) charges a security tax fee. This is a nominal fee of less than 10 Euros (per departing passenger). For operators that have outstanding fees, ANAC may fine for nonpayment.
LPAZ is a refreshingly straight-forward and easy tech stop for operators traveling to/from the Middle East or Africa. It’s important, however, to ensure that all required services and catering have been set up and confirmed prior to day of operation.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to LPAZ, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which covers document and permit information for travel to Santa Maria Island, Azores.