Terrain avoidance is paramount at Lanseria, as the airport is located among hills. No SIDs or STARs apply to the field, and operators can expect radar vectors on arrival and assignment of headings and altitudes for departures. Controllers tend to work aircraft high to avoid the terrain and conflicts with Tambo International traffic on the other side of the city.
Business aviation operators arriving internationally will be directed to park in front of the passenger terminal for customs clearance; a lounge is provided inside the terminal for passengers to use during the clearance process. With CIQ completed, aircraft will then be permitted to taxi to the FBO for permanent parking. The system is actually efficient, Bartholomew claimed, and clearance time averages between 10 and 15 min.
Portions of Lanseria's ramp are slightly sloped, so crews are cautioned to set parking brakes and chock the wheels. Operators are also warned that the airport's taxiways tend to be narrow, so larger aircraft may have to be over-steered on turns in order to keep all the wheels on the pavement. Finally, be advised that a security gate separating the FBO from the taxiways is not much wider than the wingspan of a typical long-range business jet.
Tambo International sits more than a thousand feet higher at 5,558 ft. elevation and thus is equipped with long runways to accommodate summertime density altitude considerations for fuel-laden Boeing 747s and Airbus A380s. Runway 3L/29R, measuring 14,495 ft., is one of the longest in Africa and once was a designated emergency landing strip for the space shuttle. Its parallel sibling, 3R/29L, is 11,155 ft. long.
Transient business aircraft operators will find Tambo more restricted, as parking there is limited to 72 hr. in one spot, after which the operator is required to move the aircraft to a remote area. “Tambo is not corporate aviation-friendly,” Bartholomew said, adding that “they park you out in the boondocks and sometimes forget about you.”
Furthermore, the field does not host an FBO, and passengers are transported to the main terminal for customs clearance. Unlike Lanseria, Tambo does not provide a dedicated waiting lounge for business aviation, but a fast-track clearance service prearranged by handlers is available. Fuel is sold by the concessionaire for the airport. “Surface traffic is really congested coming out of Tambo, as well, and it can often take a while to get downtown,” Bartholomew said.
As the South African capital of Pretoria is situated only 50 km/31 sm to the northeast, operators intending to visit there generally use Jo-burg's airports. Again, Lanseria is the preferred field since it is the closest to the capital.
At both airports, “security is monitored 24/7,” Bartholomew said, “and managers at both airports have told us that private guards for the aircraft are unnecessary.” In his experience working flights into Jo-burg and other South African destinations, Bartholomew said he has yet to receive a complaint about unnecessarily high fees or price gouging. As with fuel, pricing for other commodities and services, such as hotels and meals, tends to mirror developed countries in Europe and North America. Operators should expect airport and navigation use fees, the latter due to South Africa's privatized ATC system.
As already noted, operating within South Africa is as straightforward as doing so in North America or Western Europe, and once the aircraft clears customs at a port of entry, the operator is free to roam throughout the country. Note, however, that visiting operators must depart the country out of a POE and, again, clear customs. Should a mechanical or avionics problem occur, high-quality maintenance for nearly all business jet types is available at major population centers.
As hunting in South Africa is popular sport, operators carrying firearms into the country are advised that their guns must be cleared with customs at the POE. The operator's handling agent will transfer the firearms separately from passengers to the terminal and vice versa on departure.