Situated on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Lima reigns as the capital and largest city of Peru and a major South American financial and business center. As such, it is a frequent destination for business aviation, especially flights originating from North America and Europe.

International flight crews will find operations into Peru based on familiar ICAO Pans Ops directed by English-speaking controllers, QNH altimetry measured in feet, RVSM vertical separation and cartography that is WGS 84-compliant. The most popular destination airport, Jorge Chavez International (SPIM), boasts two FBO/handlers — Swissport and ATSA.

“You will be directed to a general aviation parking area and then taken by van to the FBO,” said Craig Mariacci, vice president, sales, at Skyplan Services in Calgary.

Peru requires visas for the conduct of business (for tourism, no visas are necessary for up to 90 days). Crewmembers, including cabin attendants, will need visas only if planning to travel within the country (i.e., on flights to multiple destinations). A local rep or sponsor will be necessary if business flights are bringing articles or products into the country. Landing permits are required for all flights. “We normally give three to five days lead time when requesting permits for Peru,” Mariacci said.

At Chavez International, fuel is available in quantity, sold by Repsol at generally better prices than those found north of the equator; early this summer, Jet-A prices averaged $3.70/gal. Most fuel cards are accepted, and credit can be arranged in advance by handlers. Operators should be prepared to pay fees for landing, handling and parking, the last which was running $25/hour this summer. Mariacci recommended that visiting operators hire private security to guard their aircraft if remaining in Lima for extended stays.

Operators versed in ICAO Pans Ops procedures should find no surprises entering or exiting Peru. Mike Powell, who flies for Quikrete International in Atlanta, operated a Gulfstream III into Peru three times in 2009. “Once we left Bogotá control and entered Lima airspace, the radio quality and the controllers' English were poor,” he said. “However, when we got over the Andes and into the Lima terminal environment, everything got much better.”

On his arrival at Jorge Chavez International, Powell was given radar vectors to the ILS for Runway 15/33. “It was very straightforward,” he said, “always radar vectors.” One procedural difference Powell noted was that “they slowed us to final approach speed 7 or 8 mi. out, allegedly for spacing, but after we landed we didn't see any other traffic. So expect them to slow you down early and to drag it in!

“We were parked on a convenient hardstand,” he continued, “and they shuttled us to the airline terminal where we cleared customs in a special section apparently reserved for general aviation. The handlers recommended fueling on arrival, as the airlines receive priority. [SPIM is the fourth largest airline hub in South America.] We got in there in the middle of the afternoon and immediately received great service. The local handlers [arranged through a U.S. flight planning service] were extremely good, very competent and professional.”

A Walk Through History

The fifth largest city in Latin America with a population of more than 8 million, Lima constitutes both a province and metropolitan area, much like a city/county arrangement in the U.S., e.g., Los Angeles. Sprawling across three river valleys on Peru's central coast and consisting of 30 districts, it was founded by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535 as la Ciudad de los Reyes — the “City of Kings.” The name (chosen because the founding occurred on the Christian Epiphany) quickly fell into disuse, locals preferring the name Lima, which is believed by scholars to have been derived from the Quechua name for a well-known oracle, Limaq, located in one of the river valleys. (The Quechua people preceded the Incas in the valleys, and in the 15th century their remnants were incorporated into the Inca nation.) The oracle was later destroyed by the Spanish and replaced with a church, but its name persisted. Following the Peruvian War of Independence in 1821, Lima became the capital of the new republic.

Today, Lima is a principal financial and business center for South America (vying with São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago and Caracas), accounting for two-thirds of Peru's industrial output. This is made possible by a large, high-quality workforce that either turns out or processes textiles, finished clothing and foodstuff (including fish) in more than 7,000 factories within the city, feeding one of the largest export trades on the continent from its seaport and Jorge Chavez Airport, itself a regional cargo hub. As is the case with many Latin American cities, despite this vibrant economy, Lima continues to reflect considerable poverty.

Lima's architecture is notable, as might be expected in a multicultural settlement in its sixth century, varying from Spanish colonial to ultra-modern themes. In addition to numerous museums and other cultural attractions, Lima claims to host more institutions of higher learning than any other city on the continent. This includes San Marcos University, the oldest continuously operating university in the Western Hemisphere, founded in 1551.

So if your visit permits, exercise the usual precautions on the street, and take a walk back into history. BCA

City at a Glance: Lima

City: Lima

Country: Republic of Peru

Status: Peruvian capital and largest city as well as a major financial center

Country visa requirement: Yes, for business. Crew members including cabin attendants require visas only if traveling within the country (i.e., on multiple flights to points in-country).

Landing permit requirement: Yes

Sponsor letter required: Yes, for business if bringing articles or products into the country for demo or sale

Aircraft documents required: Airworthiness certificate, registration, insurance certificate with country coverage. For charter flights, commercial operator's certificate. Additional documents may be required for small aircraft and ferry flights.

Any other requirements for visiting aircraft: No

Carbon trading requirement: No

ATC procedures: ICAO/Pans Ops

Any unique procedures: No

Altimetry: QNH

Metric or feet: Feet


WGS 84-compliant: Yes

Local navigator required: No


Name & ICAO identifier: Jorge Chavez International (SPIM)

Coordinates: 12o 01' 19”S 77o 06' 52”W

POE: Yes

Elevation: 113 ft.

Runways: 15/33, 11,506 ft. x 148 ft. wide

Slots: No

Curfew: No

FBOs: Swissport Executive, ATSA

Clear CIQ at: FBOs, with prior arrangement

Parking: Yes, at a designated general aviation ramp

Hangarage: On request

Fuel: Repsol Jet A1; Avgas

Credit: Fuel cards, contract fuel, credit arranged via handler

Maintenance: Contract maintenance available

Lav service: Yes

Catering: Arranged through handler or hotel

Fees: Landing, parking (approximately $25/hour), handling

Security: Available through private security firms

Ground Transportation: Limousines available

Distance and driving time to downtown: 10 km/6 sm, about 15 min. in traffic