It is heading, at a chillingly fast pace, into winter in the northern hemisphere, which means we usually write posts on ski season spot ops. But we did that last year, so this year, we thought a nice hot weather one could be fun instead.
Which is why this is a post all about operating to the Caribbean.
*There is nothing about PIREPs in this at all, I just thought that was too good a pun to not use.
When is peak season?
That would be now: Late November to mid April.
It is peak for two reasons:
- One, its still nice weather there while the northern hemisphere is generally in the midst of cold and wet misery so like winged sunflowers, or maybe moths, everyone starts heading for the sunshine.
- Two, there are a bunch of big holidays like Christmas and New Years and people like to go somewhere nice to celebrate.
All this means a lot more GA traffic which means busy airspace, delays, and parking problems if you haven’t pre-planned.
What to pre-plan?
Read this very helpful post from the folk at Universal Weather. We could re-write it all out for you here but seems pointless when they’ve done such a good job. And all that permit parking slot stuff is dull.
So, on to more interesting stuff.
We thought we might take a look at the airports themselves instead, because there are challenges that will really shiver yer timbers if you don’t know about them.
While looking up information, we also discovered this old pirate map in an ancient bottle of rum 🙂 🏴☠️
TNCM/Princess Juliana, St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles
Hours: 0700-2100L, O/T O/R PNR available for non-scheduled flights
Runway/Approach info: 10/28 7546’/2300m RNAV/Visual RFF9
Timber shivering stuff: You’re going to need a special qualification to head in here. It has some unusual procedures because of the big old mountains near it. There is Class C airspace right above it and it all gets super congested there.
TIST/ Cyril E King, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
Hours: 0700-2300L, US preclearance airport
Runway/Approach info: 10/28 7000’/2134m ILS 10 RFF7
Contact Info: Airport +1 340-774-5
Ahoy matey! What else can yer tell me?: Another one needing special qualification due hills. They also have noise sensitive areas, class c airspace and all the congestion that comes with it, and turbulence and wind shear to deal with.
TUPJ/Terrance B Lettsome (Roadtown), Tortola, Virgin Islands
Hours: M-F 1230-2030Z, O/T PPR
Runway/Approach Info: 07/25 is only 4646’/1416m with an RNAV to 25 RFF5
Contact Info: Airport +1 284-394-8000/ FBO: IAM jet centre +1 284-495-0303 firstname.lastname@example.org
Yarr! Argh! stuff: Smaller airport. It is hilly around the airport, and the short runway ends in water… There are also no VFR ops by night.
TBPB/Grantley Adams, Bridgetown, Barbados
Runway/Approach Info: 09/27 11017’/3358m ILS 09/RNAV RFF 9
Contact Info: Airport +1 246-536-1302/ FBO: IAM jet centre 1 246-428-1704 email@example.com
Avast, ye scurvy threats: This big one can handle big aircraft, although there are some ground restrictions for the medium and heavy folk. There are NABT procedures too. Nice one for tech stopping and maintenance action.
MYNN/Lyndon Pindling, Nassau, Bahamas
Hours: H24R US Pre-Clearance Airport
Runway/Aroach Info: 14/32 10925’/3330m ILS 14/RNAV RFF8 and 10/28 8302’/2530m RNAV/VOR
Contact Info: Airport +1 242-702-1010 firstname.lastname@example.org / FBO: Jet Aviation email@example.com +1 242 377 3355 / Odyssey Bahamas firstname.lastname@example.org +1 242 702 0200
Yo ho ho: One of the biggers. Not without its challenges though. There are prohibited and danger areas near the airport to look out for. These mean some special IFR departure procedures if heading W, SW or NW (basically anyway involving some westwardly way). Lots of traffic below 10,000’ here too
MWCR/Owen Roberts, Georgetown, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Hours: Ops 0700-2100L, O/T O/R; Admin M-F 0830-1700L
Runway/Approach Info: 08/26 7867’/2398m RNAV RFF7
Contact Info: Airport +1 345-943-7070 email@example.com / FBO: Island air +1 345-949-5252 2 0200
Here be treasure, matey: They don’t have radar here, but they do have noise sensitive areas so navigate carefully.
TAPA/VC Bird, St.John’s, Antigua
Runway/Approach Info: 07/25 9967’/3038m RNAV (GNSS) RFF8
Contact Info: Airport +1 268-484-2300 firstname.lastname@example.org / FBO: Signature +1 268-462-2522 ANU@signatureflight.com
May yer compass be true:This has some skinny little taxiways that anything over 65000lbs, or with wings over 100’ (30m) isn’t allowed to use (and they can only use by day). This means backtracking aircraft on the runway which means you’ll probably have to hold on arrival for spacing. It is quite a popular tech stop airport though.
MBPV/Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Hours: M-F 1230-2030Z, O/T PPR
Runway/Approach Info: 10/28 9199’/2804m RNP/VOR RFF 7
Contact Info: Airport +1 649-946-2137
Wall the plank: A bigger airport, this also has a lot go GA traffic and also some parasailing hazards to add to the fun.
TQPF/Clayton J Lloyd (Wallblake), The Valley, Anguilla
Runway/Approach Info: 11/29 5459’/1664m RNP RFF5
Contact Info: Airport +1264-497-2384/ FBO: Lloyd Aviation +1 264-498-4141 email@example.com
Scallywags: Another little one that only allows IFR by night. There are a lot of poles, antenna and also birds around the airport. So keep a good look out (probably why its IFR only at night).
MKJS/Sangster, Montega Bay, Jamaica
Runway/Approach Info: 07/25 8735’/2662m ILS 07/RNAV 25 RFF 9
Contact Info: Airport +1 876-952-3124 Slots firstname.lastname@example.org/ FBO: IAM jet centre +1 876-979-3855 email@example.com
Batten down them hatches: A good tech stop spot, but look out for the mountains and the high minimas and the noise sensitive bits. Also look out for the many small airports (and traffic heading into them) which fill the airspace. They have some specific NABT procedures to look into, and it can get windsheary.
MDSD/Las Americas, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Runway/Approach Info: 17/35 11004’/3354m ILS 17/RNAV RFF9
Contact Info: Airport +1 809-947-2225 firstname.lastname@example.org/ FBO: Servair +1 809 549 1404 email@example.com
Other stuff: Don’t confuse San Isidro AB for MDSD. And don’t head in unless you have the qualification – it’s one of those because of the airbase and prohibited areas nearby. Terrain nearby is also a bit of a concern, as is FOD on the runway (not sure why, but enough to permanently mention it apparently). There are also minimum ceiling restrictions of approaches so worth familiarising yourself with the charts before heading in.
MDLR/La Romana Casa de Campo intl, Dominican Republic
Runway/Approach Info: 11/29 9678’/2950m RNAV(GNSS) RFF8
Contact Info: Airport +1 809-813-9000 firstname.lastname@example.org/ FBO: Swissport Dominicana +1 809 813 9123 email@example.com / Universal Aviation +1 809 813 9070
Hoist the mainsail: This place requires a 180 turn and backtrack on both ends of the runway and has limited taxiway and apron space. There is a nearby restricted area and noise sensitive bits.
ATC often seek in Spanish for local traffic so watch out.
TJSJ/San Juan Luis Munoz Marin, Puerto Rico
Runway/Approach Info: 08/26 10400’/3170m ILS 08 / RNAV RFF8 and 10/29 8016’/2443m ILS 10 / RNAV
Contact Info: Airport +1 787-253-2329 firstname.lastname@example.org/ FBO: Airport Aviation Services +1 787 791 8500/
Jet Aviation San Juan +1 787 791 7005 email@example.com
Pazo’s fuel services +1 787-791-7005 firstname.lastname@example.org
Down to Davy Jones’ locker with ye: A good tech stop option. It does have some mountains nearby, and it is in primary Class C airspace.
Also don’t get confused by TJIG/Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci nearby
Where else can I get info?
Opsgroup wise: we have a library of Airport Lowdowns that you might find useful. If you’re a member you can also head to Airport Spy and read a whole load of reviews from other members sharing what they experienced.
AOPA make some very handy slot guides which you can find here.
They include useful stuff like info on airports, stuff to do while you’re there, and photos of pineapples.
The Caricom e-APIS site is here. You’ll need this for advance information sending about passengers.
The FAA guide to the Caribbean en-route stuff can be discovered here. This is a treasure trove of information on en-route stuff, weather stuff, and all things to do with operating in the airspaces.
More on the topic:
- More: What we’re seein’ in the Caribbean
- More: Hunting Hurricanes: The 2021 Atlantic Season
- More: Eruption in the Caribbean: The La Soufrière Volcano
- More: Call for volunteers from OPSGROUP: We need flight ops people
- More: After Hurricane Maria – Airport Status