The Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympic Games — dubbed “Rio 2016” — are scheduled to begin Aug. 5 and extend through Aug. 21. The 2016 Paralympics will run from Sept. 7 to Sept. 18 in the same locale.

This presupposes, of course, that lagging construction at some venues will be completed in time, the beleaguered Brazilian economy won’t collapse, and the huge host country’s political turmoil involving the possible impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff for corruption, among other issues, will calm before or throughout the events. Regardless, business aviation operators planning to attend the Games should be making plans, reserving slots and accommodations, and getting their documentation — a burdensome requirement for visiting Brazil — in order now. It also behooves operators and charter providers to be acquainted with the extensive temporary flight restrictions that will be implemented in Rio and the five other cities where the various competitions will be held. Coordination with operators’ handling and flight planning agencies should have already begun as you read this.

Athletes and teams representing more than 200 countries are slated to compete in the Games and more than 100,000 Brazilian citizens will be involved in staging the competitions.

Several million spectators are expected to flood into the country, most arriving via airline at Rio de Janeiro Galeão International Airport (SBGL), where US$1.6 billion has been invested in improvements to accommodate them. Additionally, an estimated 1,000 business aircraft are predicted to visit Brazil for the Games, some whose operators are willing to shell out big money for parking and handling services at Galeão. Others plan to touch down there only to disembark passengers and clear customs, then reposition to other less-expensive airports.

The six venues for the 2016 Games are, of course, Rio, where the opening and closing ceremonies will be held; plus Belo Horizonte; Brazil’s capital, Brasília; Salvador; the nation’s largest city, São Paulo; and the Amazonian city of Manaus. Now, Brazil’s Department of Airspace Control (a division of the country’s military) has devised a system of airspace restrictions, or “exclusion areas,” over these cities defined by three concentric circles: white, yellow and, directly over the Olympic venue, red, all of them in effect only during the period of the relevant event.

In the outermost circle (white), up to FL 145 (FL 195 over only Rio), only aircraft equipped with transponders, maintaining radio comm with ATC and “respecting flight plan rules” can operate while the zone is in effect. Moving closer to the venue, things get more restrictive: In the yellow zone, the same altitude caps hold but the space is restricted to “governmental authorities,” military aircraft, VIPs “classified by presidential chief of staff,” Olympic and Paralympic committee members and federations, and aircraft approved to engage in filming. Additionally, before entering a yellow zone, an aircraft must undergo a security inspection “carried out by the accredited service provider hired by the air operator . . . when it is inoperative for longer than 6 hr. or when there is a suspicion of unauthorized access to aircraft.” Further, “aircraft access control” must be kept under surveillance at all times.

The red zones, not surprisingly, are designated “prohibited” and entry during Olympic events is allowed solely under “airspace defense authorization.” Thus, only transportation of government authorities and military operations, medevac and police flights, and official aerial filming will be allowed.

As already mentioned, the exclusion zones will go into effect only during the duration of the events they overlay; at other times normal procedures prevail.

All of this is detailed in the Brazil Department of Airspace Control publication AIC18-15, Dec. 15, 2015.

As of this spring, DAC authorities had yet to announce whether operators would be able to fly directly to Rio Galeão or be required to land at a port of entry (POE) elsewhere, clear customs, then fly on to SBGL during a period when the airspace there was open. Given the expected congestion at both Rio Galeão and the city’s domestic airport, Santos Dumont (SBRJ), many visiting operators may want to “drop and go” anyway, depositing passengers at Rio and then repositioning to outlying airports outside of the Olympic exclusion areas. Both fields also exercise slot controls that — as one would expect — will be tightened for the period of the Games.

Two days before and after the opening and closing ceremonies, 15% of slots at SBGL will be allocated to general aviation, dropping to 10% during the Games. The other 85% and 90%, respectively, go to airlines and VIP, including head of state, aircraft.

And while the “normal” lead time for approving slot applications through the coordination agency CGNA is five days, during the Olympic period, it is a minimum of 30 days in advance. Additionally, flight plan submission will be extended from the normal 45 min. prior to ETD to at least 90 min. before ETD.

Expensive Real Estate

At Rio Galeão, general aviation parking is being managed by Lider Aviation of São Paulo and occurs on Taxiway M, the same as used during the 2014 World Cup. According to Cynthia de Oliveira, Lider’s operations director, the taxiway can accommodate up to 165 business jets, “depending on the mix of aircraft types.” The parking scheme is optimized to facilitate movements and is promised not to be like the cargo ramp arrangement used by another handling contractor at Rio during the World Cup, where airplanes were crammed into a confined space with limited ingress/egress. Thus, to move an aircraft from the back of the ramp, numerous planes had to be repositioned requiring lots of marshals, tugs, etc., with associated fees.

In any case, cargo ramp or taxiway, ground handling at a world event like the Olympics is expensive “because we have to bring people — supervisors, managers and coordinators — from other airports to make it work, and this adds to cost of handling,” Oliveira explained. “The situation is further complicated in Brazil because the aircraft handlers’ shifts are limited by law to 6 hr., hence the need to have more people on hand.”

The rules governing parking and pricing have yet to be formulated, Oliveira said, “and this will influence whether an operator will drop and go or stay there [assuming there is space available]. Repositioning is always an option.” The company has identified five relatively nearby airports for the purpose. “We learned from the World Cup,” she said.

During the World Cup at Rio, Lider claimed 80% of the operations in ground handling. “In all of Brazil, we had 70% of the movements, the only company with presence in all 12 of the host cities,” she continued. “So we’ve learned a few things about how to do this.”

The five recommended airports for repositioning, all less than 215 nm from Rio, are: Sao Pãulo Guarulhos (SBGR), São Paulo Congonhas (SBSP), Viracopos/Campinas (SBKP), Belo Horizonte (SBBH) and Tancredo Neves/Confins (SBCF). Between 215 and 1,000 nm, add Brazil’s capital airport, Brasília (SBBR), Salvador (SBSV), Porto Alegre (SBPA) and, further up the coast, Recife (SBRF). Understand, however, that except for Porto Alegre and Recife (the latter, 1,000 nm distant), all the others will have slot requirements either permanently in place (read: São Paulo) or temporarily imposed for the duration of the Olympic period.

Obviously, if your principals have indicated that they want to fly to the Olympics, your planning should already be completed or at least well underway. The best strategy to avoid problems and surprises is to work closely with a reliable flight planning and handling agency that knows the proclivities of Brazilian entry requirements.

For those unfamiliar with Brazilian operations, the country’s byzantine directives governing foreign operators can be daunting:

Permits and notifications: overflight, single landing or multiple landings, the last requiring the “AVANAC certificate,” which must be secured prior to filing flight plans to Brazil or entry will be refused.

Temporary Admission Entry Term: a customs document awarded on arrival at a POE to register the aircraft into Brazil’s customs system, which along with the AVANAC, must be surrendered when the aircraft leaves the country.

Mandatory documents: airworthiness certificate, aircraft registration, insurance policy with Brazil rider, and for commercial operators, Air Operating Certificate (AOC) and Operations Specification (Ops Spec).

Cockpit crew licenses and medical certificates. Note that all pilots must carry First Class Medicals — even first officers holding Commercial Certificates.

Visas: required for passengers and cabin attendants only. However, the Brazilian government has waived the visa requirement for U.S., Canadian, Australian and Japanese citizens entering the country between June 12 and Sept. 18, 2016. While not required for pilots arriving with the aircraft, relief crews entering the country via airline must have them.

Note that the Brazilians are unwavering in their requirements for visiting operators, and those who arrive without proper documentation will be denied entry into the country. The lack of a signature on a document, a wrong medical certificate or one that will expire too soon for Brazilian authorities to accept, failure of your handler to register your aircraft tail number with Brazilian customs — any of a myriad small details that could send you and your passengers back home on arrival.

For a more detailed discussion of Brazilian aviation and customs requirements, see “Operating in Brazil” (BCA, January 2009). Also, Lider Aviation has published a pamphlet titled “Rio De Janeiro 2016, Come and Be Part of This Show,” which contains airport information and other data on negotiating the Olympics’ aviation obstacle course. It as well as updates on Rio 2016 news and procedures can be obtained at Lider’s website:

Finally, Oliveira adds this advice to Olympics-bound operators: “Please consider Galeão Airport as a short-term stop. For movements throughout Brazil during the Games, consider planning operations only within the white areas [of the exclusion zones]. When considering Rio, plan to fly during times when exclusion zones are not activated. Come to Brazil — it will be a challenge, but we are a friendly country.”

No Joy in Bali

Business aviation operators headed to Indonesia should be aware that in October 2015 the nation’s Ministry of Transport implemented a regulation banning domestic operations by foreign operators within the archipelago. PM 66 applies to both “Non Commercial and Commercial International Unscheduled Air Transport using Foreign Civil Aircraft to and from the Territory of the Republic of Indonesia.”

While the regulation doesn’t ban foreign operators from entering the country, foreign-registered aircraft are now required to fly only to a POE, disembark passengers and remain there until passengers reboard and then depart the country. Passengers desiring to travel within Indonesia must do so on domestic airlines or aboard local charter services.

The International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) registered its opposition to the new policy in a Nov. 30, 2015, letter to Transportation Minister Ignatius Jonan, pointing out that on a visit to Washington, D.C., Indonesian President Joko Widodo had “emphasized the importance of policies that encourage foreign investment in Indonesia.”

The letter from IBAC Secretary General Kurt Edwards pointed out that PM 66 had established “burdensome processes” for operators of foreign-registered aircraft visiting Indonesia and restricted movement within the country that inhibited business activities of both visitors and domestic business aircraft operators. The letter was accompanied by a comprehensive IBAC-generated white paper explaining the advantages of business aviation as a proven productivity tool.

IBAC’s appeal was refuted in a terse letter dated Jan. 13, 2016, from the Indonesian director of civil aviation. In it, he stated that PM 66 would not be altered to accommodate operation of foreign-registered aircraft within the country and that if operators wanted “to conduct business by visiting two points within Indonesian territory you can use Indonesian carrier [sic.].”

But there may be more to the new regulation restricting movement within Indonesia’s borders than what appears to be an ill-conceived anti-cabotage policy.

“Looking behind the curtains,” an informed source who requested anonymity told BCA, “the Indonesian government is after wealthy Indonesians who have bought airplanes and based them out of the country, having their flight crews reposition them to Indonesia when they want to use them.” Thus, these operators have not “imported” the airplanes and paid required duties, which can be significant. “So indications are that they are after people gaming the system,” the source concluded.

Toward a World Standard for Aviation Emissions Trading

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) continues to plod toward a global standard for CO2 and NOx emissions trading that will rationalize the EU’s controversial Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) — if the Europeans agree to accept it.

As we reported in “Euro ETS Reconsidered” (BCA, April 2013), the ETS was born out of an interim environmental initiative designed to pressure ICAO into developing a world standard for mitigating aviation’s contribution to greenhouse gases. The problem was that the EU went too far in conceiving the ETS.

Particularly harsh on business aviation, the principal insult of the carbon-trading program was its “extra-territorial” provision, calling for visiting operators — airlines as well as general aviation — to be accountable for their CO2 emissions not just in EU member country airspace but all the way from their points of origin and return as well. The program required operators to purchase carbon credits at the end of each year of operation to offset their aggregate CO2 emissions in metric tons for the previous 12 months, with the provision of some free allowances. (Burning one ton of jet fuel releases 3.12 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.)

When the ETS was announced at the beginning of the decade, it was met with worldwide opposition that nearly fomented a tit-for-tat trade war, with many countries questioning the legality of the measures. “It was the whole world against the EU,” Guy Visele, a consultant to the European Business Aviation Association, told BCA. In response, the EU environmental authorities declared a moratorium on the extra-territorial provision and confined emissions reporting and purchasing of carbon offsets to its 28 member states. The program continues on that basis today, with operators accessing EU airspace — either domestic or visiting international — obligated to monitor and calculate their CO2 emissions, purchase carbon credits and surrender them to the EU during the following year.

Annual emissions exemptions have been assigned to both private and commercial operators, 1,000 metric tons for the former and 25,000 tons for the latter, beyond which carbon offsets have to be purchased. For 2015 emissions, the reporting deadline for applicable operators to surrender their carbon credits was April 30, 2016. The EU has put teeth into the reporting requirement by levying heavy fines, having issued 1 million euros in sanctions to non-complying operators for the 2012 reporting period alone. And for operators making only a few trips a year into EU airspace, Eurocontrol has established the Small Emitter Support Facility that removes the verification requirement and provides a simple formula for calculating emissions, greatly reducing the workload for reporting.

In response to the massive pushback to the ETS’s extra-territorial provision, the ICAO at the 2013 iteration of its triennial Assembly committed to develop a draft global carbon-trading scheme that would incorporate market-based measures (MBMs) for presentation to the following Assembly, which convenes this October in Montreal. “That was only three years to start from scratch to develop a system,” Visele observed. It is hoped that a majority of ICAO’s 191 member states will ratify the global scheme for implementation by 2020. After years of debating the issue, the current “official” position of the EU Commission is that if ICAO succeeds in bringing in a workable global MBM, it would adopt it as an EU regulation in place of the current ETS.

The stakes are high. “If we don’t develop a global system, then individual states can impose their own, and we will have a proliferation of schemes that will be unmanageable for small operators,” Visele explained. “We have to be pragmatic and realistic, as climate change impact is being taken more seriously by more countries, and the U.N. has committed to reduce climate change.”

While the Kyoto Protocols, dating from the 1997 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, set goals for the reduction of CO2 and NOx levels in the atmosphere among treaty signatories, aviation and maritime activity were initially exempted as sources. Subsequently, under pressure from international environmental organizations (the “Greens”), the U.N. mandated ICAO and the International Maritime Organization (both U.N. agencies) to come up with mitigation strategies. “But aviation was slow to respond,” Visele said. Hence, the EU’s ETS, intended to not only reduce emissions over Europe but also pressure ICAO to do something on an international basis.

Last year, the ICAO Council produced draft policy proposals for a global MBM scheme, and in February 2016, the ICAO Committee for Aviation and Environmental Protection (CAEP), tasked with the technical work for any carbon-mitigation strategy, unveiled a new CO2 standard. Combined, these achievements will serve as what Visele terms a “strawman,” or template, to frame the environmental discussions at the forthcoming Assembly.

To ensure all states have the latest information on the draft international ETS proposal, five Global Aviation Dialogue (GLAD) meetings, one for each ICAO geographical region, were convened, the last at the end of March in Indonesia. “In October, they will vote on the draft proposal,” Visele said. “However, it is important to remember that, in terms of reducing emissions, there is a split in opinion between developed and developing states.”

So how will this affect international business aviation operators? Visele put it this way: “The way EU ETS exists now, it takes into consideration that if ICAO comes up with something global, it will be amended accordingly. If not, the previous version will be applied to international flights into and out of EU states — that is the political willingness.” What that means is that, depending on the ICAO “final deliverable,” as Visele described it, “the EU will then accept some European regulatory initiatives to either align EU ETS with the new global MBM, or if no ICAO agreement is reached, reinstate the ‘full ETS.’”

European Ramp Inspections

If you operate in Europe, there’s an increasing chance your flying machine could become the subject of a Ramp Inspection Program (RIP) condition check, formerly known as the Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft (SAFA).

Whatever they’re calling it, it’s almost as comprehensive as a mandated airframe inspection, and the aviation authorities of EU states are racking up more of them than ever, with 11,167 in 2012 alone. Leading the pack was France, which invented the original SAFA inspection 20 years ago, scoring 2,442, up from 75 in 1996. The most ever conducted in the EU was 11,703 in 2010.

Leading causes for busts, with category items often cited, include:

Defects in condition of aircraft: known defects not reported or assessed; defects deferred with a wrong MEL or CDL reference; and improperly reported maintenance items.

General condition of aircraft: operational flight deck markings and/or placards incorrect or missing; interior equipment and/or other objects not correctly secured or stowed.

Flight preparation: flight plan, NOTAMs and fuel plan irregularities.

Weight and balance: incorrect mass and/or balance calculations; no mass and balance calculations performed; completed mass and balance sheet not on board.

According to a U.S. operator whose aircraft was selected for inspection recently, a less popular but common item for failure is “messy cockpit.” So put away your charts and dispose of the used latte cups after the aircraft is secured in the assigned parking area.