Update - April 2019

OTREC Update – April 16, 2019

The site survey undertaken by the RAF has resulted in several changes to the OTREC logistics and operations plans.

  1. The shipping of the OTREC cargo will be handled by the US Embassy in Costa Rica. The reason for this is, the University of Costa Rica had lost its tax exempt status and this may result in the importation taxes levied on our shipments, if UCR acts as the importer of record. The Embassy will handle the shipments as temporary import based on an agreement with the Government of Costa Rica. As part of this new arrangement the following items are of great importance:
    1. Shipments of equipment that returns to the US must be separate from the shipments of “consumables”, such as radiosondes, dropsondes or balloons, as well as any other items that will remain in Costa Rica. This is because the consumables will be processed as “donations” from the US government to the Government of Costa Rica, while returnable shipments will be processed as temporary import.
    2. Soon we will receive the address to ship equipment to from the Embassy. It is critical that that address is used for shipments. Anything shipped to the hotel or to the airport will be stuck in customs, will incur customs storage fees and may be very difficult to extract.
    3. Sea containers will contain only returnable items, primarily the GV aircraft and payload support equipment. This shipment will be routed to Caldera, a seaport a couple hours South of Liberia. After it clears customs in Caldera the containers will be trucked to the Liberia airport.
    4. Ground GPS and met stations will be sent by air freight to San Jose. Once they clear customs in San Jose they will be released to the designated authorized personnel, likely from the University of Costa Rica, and delivered to ground sites by vehicle.
    5. Last minute support equipment for the GV will also have to be routed through San Jose, where there is a bonded warehouse and the Embassy is able to assist with clearances. Once cleared the air freight will be sent to Liberia by ground, likely by a ground courier service. Details of this last part are still TBD.
  2. Work at the Liberia airport will include several requirements:
    1. Badging: all project participants requiring access to the ramp and the GV will need to have a badge. RAF will prepare and issue badges and project-labeled lanyards for all participants. We will need a photo of each participant, and people will need to bring their passport along with them when accessing the airport for the first time. It is recommended to have your passport with you at all times when working at the airport.
    2. Driving on the ramp will be restricted to RAF mechanics only driving the RAF 4WD vehicle. They will have a special training provided by the airport. Personal vehicles will not be allowed on the ramp.
    3. Access to the ramp will be through a security checkpoint. The checkpoint is separate from the airport general boarding area. While our badges will expedite the process, all items carried to the GV have to pass through the scanner and people walk through metal detector. This procedure is mandatory even for airport employees, so it will apply to us as well. This means, do not bring knives or similar items on your person or in your bags; leave them on the GV in your executive tool kit if you need one.
    4. Pavel will compile the list of people who will need access to the ramp, to provide in advance to the airport. Expect a separate email for this.
  3. Access to hotels for meetings and collaborative work
    1. The primary ops center will be at the Mangroove. Additional internet bandwidth will be added specifically for our project. At the airport there will be just a basic WiFi that is expected to be suitable for checking E-mail but not for data uploads. All bandwidth-intensive work should be planned to be done at the Mangroove.
    2. Hotel security will not allow general access to the hotel grounds. People who will be working at the Magroove or at Condovac will need to be on a list that is provided to the hotel in advance. Pavel will compile the list for the Mangroove and Zeljka and Dave, for Condovac. These Google docs are almost complete and we will share them with the hotels once they are consistently formatted. We will also ask the hotels that people wearing the project badge be allowed to enter the premises of both hotels.
  4. Ground site operations: Respective PIs will be organizing the work and keeping a current list of personnel for each site. This is important for security and safety, we need to know who is at which site and when, to contact in case of an emergency.
  5. Communications:
    1. We will create a project wide telephone list. Considering that many people are likely to buy local sim cards to make communications cheaper, we will establish this list as a Google document and provide access for everyone on the project. Once you get a local telephone number, please update it in this document as soon as practical so that others know how to get in touch with you.
    2. A project wide Emergency Points of Contact will be at the top of the phone list. These will be the lead investigators, the project managers and designated bi-lingual people from the Embassy, CeNAT and the University of Costa Rica. These are for emergencies only, please do not call them when you run out of helium or need a ride to the airport.
    3. WhatsApp is the most popular way for people to communicate in Costa Rica. It is highly recommended that everyone gets one for their phone.
    4. Most employees at the airport speak English.
  6. Shipments timing:
    1. Shipping lists are mostly ready. I am going through them and correcting the versions, eliminating duplicates etc. before sending them off for translation into Spanish, which was requested by the Embassy. If you have any changes please implement them now, or let me know what needs to change. I will send them off to translate on 4/24.
    2. We are expecting to ship three sea containers at this point.
    3. The containers are expected to leave on June 3 or thereabouts. This will be clarified with the freight forwarder once we get one under contract.
    4. Air freight will be leaving at various times, depending on the need and readiness of the cargo. Some will be drop shipped from the manufacturer, some by the PIs if they included shipping into their grants, and some by the RAF and EOL, as agreed with the PIs.
    5. Ground distribution in Costa Rica will be coordinated closer to the shipment time. At this point our colleagues in Costa Rica don't have the detailed plan or the names of persons who will be doing the deliveries.

If you have any questions contact Pavel Romashkin, pavel@ucar.edu, +1-303-803-8448