Secondly, it's a good idea for all cockpit crewmembers to have First Class Medicals, as there has been some confusion among the Brazilians regarding Second Class Medicals for professional pilots. Thirdly, some type of proof of yellow fever inoculation for all crew members and passengers must be presented, otherwise aircraft occupants may face a stiff fine and be required to take the shots on site. This is not a requirement for tech stops.
At some locations, the authorities will also want to see some sort of “proof-of-proficiency” assurance, such as a flight simulator check card or logbook endorsement sticker from the operator's training provider issued within the previous six months.
Aircraft documents can be an issue, too, as the Brazilians want to see everything as originals — no copies. These include aircraft airworthiness certificate and registration, noise certificate for aircraft manufactured before 1980, and insurance certificate with worldwide coverage. Business aviation operators have been expelled from the country for not meeting this requirement, so plan accordingly.
Brazil is unique in not requiring entry or overflight permits; however, if the operator is planning to make multiple flights to different destinations within the country, then an in-country flight authorization will be required. This is obtained at the port of entry (POE) as part of the document inspection described above and will be issued by the Brazilian aviation authority. It is important to note, however, that this document must be returned to the authorities at the port of exit before the operator departs the country. It is advised to make a copy of it as a backup.
Brazil ATC adheres to ICAO procedures and QNH altimetry. “Based on feedback from flight crews I've handled, it's very professional,” said Shahin Zamini, flight planning manager at Aero Flight Solutions in Greer, S.C. Reportedly, VHF comm reception has been improved in Brazil, and since the 2006 fatal collision between a Gol airline Boeing 737 and an Embraer Legacy over the Amazon, controllers are more faithfully monitoring their frequencies.
While radar coverage has been extended over most of the huge country, pilots have reported it to be spotty in some areas and advise crews not to assume they are in radar contact all the time. They also recommend monitoring the 123.45 MHz air-to-air comm frequency, particularly over the more remote areas of Brazil — which amounts to a lot of its territory. In metropolitan areas like São Paulo, controllers' English is rated as good but can deteriorate the farther away one flies from population centers.
The two most popular São Paulo area airports accessed by business aviation are Guarulhos International (SBGR), the designated port of entry for the city, and Congonhas (SBSP), its principal domestic airdrome. More convenient to São Paulo's downtown and amenable to general aviation, Congonhas is not a POE. Thus, arriving business aircraft must first land at Guarulhos to clear customs. Both fields require prearranged arrival slots, SBGR allowing a maximum of 45 ops per hour and SBSP 30 ops per hour. Handlers recommend reserving slots for arrivals and departures as far in advance as possible to secure their desired times.
A few years ago, Guarulhos International was limiting parking to 2 hr. — just long enough to clear, refuel if necessary and reposition to another airport. However, according to Adonis Bastos, customer service agent at Universal Weather & Aviation, “Parking at SBGR can be granted for the duration of stay, depending on availability.” Given that the active word here is “availability,” it is incumbent on the operator desiring to remain at Guarulhos to obtain confirmation for extended parking as early as possible. If parking isn't available, then the drop-and-reposition option will be necessary. In addition to Congonhas, two outlying fields — Campinas (SBKP) and Jundiai (SBJD) — are also good places to tie down for layovers.
While there are FBOs at Congonhas, none — at least in the traditional sense — exist at Guarulhos. Here's how Zamini at Aero Flight Solutions describes the SBGR arrangement: “There is a general aviation ramp at SBGR that's very spacious, plus a small building there with rest rooms and shelter for crews. When the aircraft lands, the handler meets it with a van and drives the passengers and crew to the terminal for customs clearance; from there, they can then go street-side to meet ground transportation.
“One crew we handled for a flight into SBGR told us that within a couple minutes of arrival, their aircraft was surrounded by service providers: lav, water, fuel and transportation,” Zamini continued. “Another crew whom we recently handled said they were really impressed with the services there: The providers were courteous and helpful and always asked one of the pilots before performing a service.