If you're heading for that big continent in the southern half of the Western Hemisphere with a cabin full of high-worth individuals, you might first want to read Pablo Penalva's “Top Five Things to Know Before Flying to South America.”
“One thing both we as crew as well as our passengers did for this trip was register with the U.S. Department of State in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP,” Capt. Bob Lazear, who flies for retailer Costco, told BCA about his flight department's preflight planning for a spring 2013 flight to Colombia to visit coffee plantations.
First it was Mexico denying operators overflight permits for alleged nonpayment of navigation fees. Now, it's Venezuela.
Applying for overflight permits from the Venezuelan civil aviation authority Instituto Nacional de Aeronautica Civil (INAC), some international business aviation operators in the past year have been surprised when they subsequently received huge invoices for allegedly overdue navigation fees from previous trips. These can amount to tens of thousands of dollars, often charged for flights never made in Venezuelan airspace.
When Blain Stanley, international operations director at Aircare FACTS Training, begins a class on cabin emergency training for flight crews, he asks the pilots — many of whom have described their passengers as “Type A's” — if they think their charges would be assets or liabilities during an emergency. According to Stanley, the nearly universal answer is the latter.
Pratt & Whitney engineers maintain that the United Technologies division bet the company on its geared turbofan (GTF) departure from conventional engine design because it promotes better optimization of shaft speeds and allows the fan to turn at lower rpm to reduce noise.
Six years ago when the plethora of new 10K business jet engines was emerging, one of the contenders was Rolls-Royce's RB282, at the time destined for a super-midsize aircraft proposed by Dassault Aviation and identified only as “SMS.”
BCA had hoped to discuss the U.S. NOTAM situation with officials at the FAA, but we were repeatedly rebuffed, with the explanation that the agency's aviation information management group was too understaffed and overworked to talk to the press. Nevertheless, a sympathetic public affairs officer was able to circulate some questions around the agency's NOTAM experts, and the following emailed answers were received just as we went to press.
In 2008-09, Eurocontrol, Swedish air navigation service provider Luftfartsverket (LFV) and Jeppesen cooperated in a series of demonstrations of digital NOTAM transmission via data link to an aircraft on the ground and in flight.
To Dave Stohr, the whole issue of GNEs, LHDs, Mach control and serious procedural mistakes can be boiled down to two deficiencies: lack of SOPs — or having but not following them — and lack of knowledge. President and founder of Air Training International, Stohr teaches international procedures and, through IBAC, represents business aviation to the North Atlantic Systems Planning Group.
As BCA was going to press, a pilot we know with considerable oceanic crossing experience in his logbook offered the following general checklist for keeping your operation gross navigation error (GNE) free. Pay attention to these points, and you have a pretty good chance of staying out of trouble.
Is the operational error problem a result of too much reliance by flight crews on cockpit automation? BCA received two points of view on one of aviation's more controversial subjects these days.
“What we find in our contacts with the international operations community,” Dave Maloy, navigation resource specialist at the FAA's Eastern Region, reported, “is that the technology has led to complacency. 'Why do we have to do these crosschecks any more, since the technology is so good at protecting us?' crews ask us.