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Cargo Flying in Africa

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atpcliff

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 26, 2001
Posts
4,260
Hi!

Leaving for Nairobi in less than 24 hours, to fly DC-9-34Fs for a Belgian co. Another US guy I know is probably also coming out next month.

I have my own round trip ticket, so I can bail if it goes to he!!.

The op is supposed to be flying all over E. Africa, and some West. They were going to Dubai 2x/week, but I guess that was changed (know 2 guys in Dubai, so too bad!).

I am trying to figure out what to bring:
Cold weather stuff?
Footwear?
etc., etc.

Any suggestins/help/advice is GREATLY appreciated!

Oh, also: The aircraft are registered in Sao Taome, but they are changing to Kenyan registration. I will be working on the Kenyan Air Law Exam right away, as well as riding jumpseat to see what the operation is like.

Thanks!

cliff
KGRB
 
Hi!

Yes, I will keep everyone updated.

If U want photos, I'm "Cliff Lapp" on facebook.

cliff
KGRB
 
I flew a trip to Africa a few years ago. My first impression was not a good one. Position call outs in the blind were getting old after a few hours. We lost comm with ATC (if you can call it that) about 100 miles from our destination. We ended up over the airport at FL350 and finally woke up the guy in the tower. He gave us a descent and wanted us to fly back out about 75 miles to do the arrival. We talked him out of that and descended in the hold for an ILS. When we taxied out I asked for our clearance and the guy just said cleared for takeoff. I asked him for a squawk code and he said he had none, just 'cleared for t/o'. We asked for the next controller freq and again he had no idea. It was something like 3AM and I was pretty sure he was quite drunk. We made it out of there finally.

Needless to say it didn't leave me with a good impression. I am not looking forward to my next visit.
 
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Different countries in Africa have greatly different qualities in their ATC structure. Pretend you're flying your DC-9 in 1965, and you'll be alright. Be proactive about getting what you want and try to see foul-ups coming before they develop into crises. Be careful at FIR boundaries. A lot of facilities don't communicate with each other, so separation at certain boundaries is almost non existent.

With regard to gear, you'll want to bring a jacket for cold weather. People laugh, but, in dry areas, you feel really cold waiting for pax/freight as temps drop from 40C to 15C.

Bring immodium, aspirin and routine household meds. Bug repellant and sunblock is really handy. You'll find most consumer goods are available at nicer hotels, but they'll be really expensive.

Don't bring camping gear, machetes or any of that stuff.

Be careful about what taxis you use (only ones that are recommended from a good hotel's travel desk). Avoid public transit.

Most importantly have enough cash on hand to get yourself out of the country if your boss stops paying your salary. This is a really common story. Good luck, and try to have some fun.

The Middle East is nice.
 
A sense of humor is the most important thing you can have with you. Try not to get stressed in the sun and dust.
 
Rule of thumb: African ATC is meant to collect overflight and landing fees, not control air traffic.

Keep that in mind, and treat the entire continent as "uncontrolled", even when you are talking to ATC.

Do what you are told, but remember to do what you need to stay alive and out of trouble first and foremost.

English is kinda sketchy at times, so have a rough idea of what they are saying ahead of time, and that will help you understand them better (ie: name of upcoming reporting points ---> est time over "____") Back to the rule I said up top, when you enter a new country, they will want to know who you are ("station" = registration #), Souls, Endurance and estimated time over FIR's... The basic ICAO flight plan stuff.

Get real good at reading the Charts, especially the little notes all over the route, telling you whom you have to call, what not to do, what to do, and so on...

Make the "all stations" position reports. It will get repetitious, but this is just as important as making radio calls flying in/out of an uncontrolled airport. Many pilots use this to verify that ATC has not placed you head on with another aircraft or is climbing someone into you and so on... Again, the charts are your friend, so you can see where "upper Bravo 435" is...). Remember the rule of thumb at the beginning...

And most importantly, have some patience. As "this is Africa". Things are just done differently done there, and that is that. Might as well get used to that idea, and accept the inevitable.

Good luck, fly safe.
 
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Rule of thumb: African ATC is meant to collect overflight and landing fees, not control air traffic.

Keep that in mind, and treat the entire continent as "uncontrolled", even when you are talking to ATC.

Do what you are told, but remember to do what you need to stay alive and out of trouble first and foremost.

English is kinda sketchy at times, so have a rough idea of what they are saying ahead of time, and that will help you understand them better (ie: name of upcoming reporting points ---> est time over "____") Back to the rule I said up top, when you enter a new country, they will want to know who you are ("station" = registration #), Souls, Endurance and estimated time over FIR's... The basic ICAO flight plan stuff.

Get real good at reading the Charts, especially the little notes all over the route, telling you whom you have to call, what not to do, what to do, and so on...

Make the "all stations" position reports. It will get repetitious, but this is just as important as making radio calls flying in/out of an uncontrolled airport. Many pilots use this to verify that ATC has not placed you head on with another aircraft or is climbing someone into you and so on... Again, the charts are your friend, so you can see where "upper Bravo 435" is...). Remember the rule of thumb at the beginning...

And most importantly, have some patience. As "this is Africa". Things are just done differently done there, and that is that. Might as well get used to that idea, and accept the inevitable.

Good luck, fly safe.

All very good points. Especially the point of reading the charts. Lots of info on there to keep you out of trouble.
 
Yeah, the little notes on the charts are pretty handy.

Talk to the local guys when you get a chance too. Lots of S. African and expat pilots can fill you in on the specifics of your local area.
 
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Hey Cliff!

I am living/working in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia which practically makes us neighbors! Stop in say Hi sometime; the fridge is well stocked with Belgian Beers.

Nix on the Cold Wx gear and ok to sleep thru winter ops and de-icing CBT sessions :)

I have flown the full length of Africa between Benghazi and Joe'Burg and Not talked to ANYbody.

tj
 
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