Author: Dean Constantinidis (page 1 of 6)

Istanbul Mega-Airport opening soon – but not for everyone

In Short: The switch from LTBA/Istanbul Ataturk to LTFM/Istanbul New Airport has effectively been postponed until sometime in early March 2019 – although no official date has been given yet. LTFM “officially” opened on 29 Oct 2018, but since then it’s only been available to Turkish Airlines – everyone else has to carry on using LTBA.

Istanbul’s new mega-airport, which has been plagued by construction issues and delays, officially launched operations on 29 October 2018, to coincide with Turkish National Day celebrations – even though it wasn’t completely ready in time.

Authorities initially said that all scheduled airline and charter flights would have to switch over from using LTBA/Istanbul Ataturk to LTFM/Istanbul New Airport on 29 October 2018. Then they published AIC 07/18 which pushed that date back to 30 December 2018. And then, in the week before that was due to happen, they published this Notam:


So for now, only Turkish Airlines are allowed to operate to LTFM. Local reports suggest that it won’t be until March 2019 before all the other airlines and charter operators can start using it too. When that happens, LTBA/Istanbul Atatürk will be closed to all scheduled airline and charter flights, but will remain open for general aviation and business flights.

So that’s good news for GA/BA! There’s nothing to say that you can’t use the new airport, but it’s quite a way out of town (39km/24 miles) when compared to the old one.

Into the future there is talk about the old airport becoming a park, but there are still no firm plans for that yet, according to the FBO reps we spoke to on the ground.

Do you know more? Let us know!

Why, How and Where should you SLOP?

In Short: Strategic Lateral Offset Procedures (SLOP) costs nothing and increases flight safety. If the airspace permits it, you should be “randomly” offsetting, especially across the North Atlantic. Left is for losers – don’t SLOP left of track.

We had a discussion in OpsGroup recently about SLOP (Strategic Lateral Offset Procedures) and it elicited some interesting responses, as well as some confusion.

So – Why, How and Where should you SLOP?


GPS technology allows modern jets to fly very accurately, too accurately it turns out sometimes! Aircraft can now essentially fly EXACTLY over an airway/track laterally (think less than 0.05NM), separated only by 1000FT vertically. A risk mitigation strategy was proposed over non-radar airspace to allow pilots to fly 1-2 nautical miles laterally offset from their track, randomly, to increase flight safety in case of any vertical separation breakdown.

How did we get here?

Navigation paradox

What we just described is known as the navigation paradox. The research shows that “increases in navigational precision” actually increases the collision risk – huh?

Here are some interesting stats to consider:

  • In a simulation, aircraft cruising at random altitudes have five times fewer collisions.
  • During a 2000 study, it was shown that hemispherical cruising altitude rules resulted in six times more mid-air collisions than random cruising altitude non compliance.
  • If more randomness was applied to the hemispherical cruising level model, the navigational paradox risk could have been largely reduced and up to 30 midair collisions avoided (up to 2006). Including the tragic GOL 2006 accident.

So we get it; the rules of the air, sometimes inject risk to flight safety due to their lack of randomness.

A way to reduce risk and inject randomness?

It was 2004 when SLOP was adopted in the most congested non-radar airspace in the world, namely the North Atlantic.

Although the Navigation Paradox is the reason SLOP was introduced and continues to be implemented, there are some nice risk mitigation side-effects too: wake turbulence reduction (at times), contingency buffers if you experience severe turbulence and can’t maintain altitude (“level busts”), etc.

SLOP therefore reduces the risk between traffic which is not operating in accordance with the correct air traffic control clearance or where an error has been made in the issue of an air traffic control clearance.

Still, there is a large number (>40%) of aircraft not adopting these procedures even though they are now mandatory on the NAT.

If >40% of pilots are using SLOP 0 (meaning no offset at all), what does that matter? That means half the flights are operating over the same lateral paths and all it takes is one minor vertical deviation for there to be a significant loss of separation.

The daily NAT track message always reminds pilots to employ SLOP procedures:

How should you SLOP?

Consider some best practice advice:

  • LEFT IS FOR LOSERSnever offset LEFT. On bi-directional routes a LEFT offset will INCREASE collision risk rather than decrease it. There are areas in the NAT Region where bi-directional traffic flows are routinely used. And there are times when opposite direction traffic may be encountered in any part of the Region. Once upon a time (between introduction of RVSM and pre-SLOP, it was ok to go LEFT, not anymore!)The only exception would be in certain airspace where ATC request you to SLOP LEFT (e.g. China).
  • The system works best when every 2 out of 3 crossings you fly, you apply an offset. Shanwick says this generally means at least 1 out of 3 aircraft are slopping.
  • You don’t need to ask ATC for approval; you can SLOP from the NAT entry point to the NAT exit point.
  • Only offset if your FMC has the function to do so – do not do it manually.
  • Good airmanship applies here. What’s happening around you? Who is above, below and near you on the same track. Co-ordinate on 123.45 if needed.
  • 2nm RIGHT is the maximum approved SLOP.
  • Flip a coin to decide like some do! Captain is PF? 1R going west; First Officer 2R going east etc. Studies show that on the NAT, 40% do 1R and only 20% go 2R. Don’t be afraid to go the full 2R!
  • If you are overtaking someone, the ICAO guidance in NAT DOC 007 is to apply SLOP so as to create the “least amount of wake turbulence for the aircraft being overtaken”.

Where though?

Our friend Eddie at Code 7700 gave a great comprehensive list so here it is verbatim.

  • Africa, almost all remote locations employ SLOP. Check the Jeppesen Airways Manual / Air Traffic Control / State Rules and Procedures – Africa) to be sure. Rule of thumb: if you are in radar contact, you probably should not SLOP.
    • One notable exception where they don’t want you to SLOP is in the HKNA/Nairobi FIR. The AIP states: “SLOP is not applicable in the Nairobi FIR due to efficient surveillance and communication systems.” (We do remind you however that recently in the Nairobi FIR, a 767 and 737, both at FL370 came a little too close for comfort).
  • Australia is another special case. You may only offset in the OCA, and, if you’re still on radar, then you need to tell ATC, both when starting the offset, or changing it. Within domestic CTA airspace, you must fly centerline. (According to Australian guidance in Jeppesen Pages).
  • China, on routes A1, L642, M771, and N892 (according to China guidance in Jeppesen Pages). In some areas they employ their unique SLOP offsets, but do allow the standard 1 nm and 2 nm offsets.
  • New York, Oakland and Anchorage Oceanic FIRs (according to U.S. FAA guidance).
  • Oceanic airspace in the San Juan FIR (according to U.S. FAA guidance).
  • North Atlantic Track Region: SLOP is mandatory (according to the North Atlantic Operations and Airspace Manual).
  • The Pacific (including the NOPAC, Central East Pacific (CEP) and Pacific Organized Track System (PACOTS) (according to U.S. FAA guidance).
  • South Pacific airspaces (according to U.S. FAA guidance).
  • Should I SLOP crossing the Atlantic even if I’m on a random route or above the published NAT FL’s?

Yes! You should especially do it then. There is a higher chance of opposite direction traffic. That extra mile or two (randomly selected of course) could be a life saver!

  • What about micro-slop?

That is lateral offsets between 0 and 1 nm (0.1 etc). ICAO mentions “LOP provisions as specified in ICAO PANS-ATM Doc.4444 were amended 13 November 2014 to include the use of “micro-offsets” of 0.1 Nms for those aircraft with this FMS capability. Appropriate guidance for the use of this amended procedure in the North Atlantic is under study and hence pending.”

We have been advised that the USAF is doing this trial over the NAT in the coming months but at this stage it is NOT APPROVED. Most FMC systems can’t micro-offset yet anyway.

We might have missed something or maybe we didn’t cover your specific question?

Drop us a line and will do our best to answer.

Bottom line, SLOP costs nothing but increases flight safety.

Buenos Aires airports closed to GA/BA during G20 summit

The 2018 G20 Leaders meeting will be held in Buenos Aires on November 30 and December 1, 2018. GA/BA flights will be prohibited from operating to both SAEZ/Ministro Pistarini and SABE/Jorge Newbery – but also all the smaller airport across the city as well.

AIP SUP A28/2018 goes into all of the restrictions in detail, but here are the key takeaways.

The airports…

Between 1500L on Nov 29 to 2200L on Dec 1 (1800Z Nov 29 to 0100Z Dec 2), here are the restrictions:

  • SABE/Jorge Newbery – will be totally closed to all non-G20 aircraft.
  • SAEZ/Ministro Pistarini – will only accept regular airline flights. All GA/BA flights are prohibited. RWY 17/35 will be closed and used as a taxiway and for parking only. Many SID and STARS will be suspended and a full list is in Appendix 2 of the SUP(UPDATE 22NOV: Notam A9669/18 has now been published which brings forward the start time for the ban at this airport to midnight local time on Nov 26).
  • SADP/El Palomar – closed to civil ops, although 8 slots will be made available to airlines from 1800Z-2300Z on Nov 29.
  • SADF/San FernandoSADJ/Mariano Moreno, SADM/Morón – all closed to civil ops.

So with all the Buenos Aires airports out of action for GA/BA over these dates, there aren’t a lot of other options. The closest international airports are: SAAR/Rosario to the north, SAZS/Plata Del Mar to the south, or SUMU/Montevideo – but that’s in a different country!

Bottom line – if you’re GA/BA and you need to get to Buenos Aires at the end of the month, you’ll need to make sure you go there before the G20 restrictions come into force on 1800z on Nov 29.

The airspace…

SAEF/Ezeiza FIR will see the following restrictions in place between those same timings, 1800z Nov 29 – 0100z Dec 2:

  • All users must submit a flight plan a minimum of 6 hours before estimated off blocks time.
  • All aircraft must operate on discreet transponder codes at all times.
  • An ADIZ is in place out to 250NM from EZE VOR from SFC-UNL within the FIR.
  • There will be 3 temporary restricted areas in place, BAIRES, SPY GLASS and ROJO.
  • The BAIRES airspace overlays on top of SAEZ/Ministro Pistarini  out to 55nm.
  • Expect Air Force fast jets to be patrolling and operating with ‘due regard‘ overhead during various times.

Did we miss something? Get in touch!

Canadian Ops Update

Just a short update on a few things happening in Canada that you might have missed…

  • There has been a change in the Maximum Indicated Airspeeds for holding patterns to bring them more in line with the rest of the world. This came into effect on 11OCT18 and will be reflected in the 08NOV18 AIP update. Refer AIC 25/18.

  • It’s been over a year and a half since NavCanada suspended it’s Climb/Descend via SID phraseology, adding a complication for pilots that regularly cross the border from USA to Canada and v.v. It initially trialed then quickly suspended them “out of concern over altitude deviations we were seeing in the system and the unforeseen large increase in workload as a result. We are continuing to communicate with airlines, aircraft operators and our employees as we revert to the phraseology rules that were in place prior to this change.​” We understand this phraseology has now been officially put in the trash and wont be returning.
CYYZ/Toronto Pearson Airport
  • There are new nighttime RNAV approaches starting in CYYZ/Toronto Pearson from 08NOV18. These RNAV (GNSS) X instrument approach procedures are for night-time ops between 0030L-0630L on runways 5/6L/6R/23/24L/24R. The procedures are designed to minimize the noise footprint. The ATIS will advertise these as the primary approach type when they are active. Pilots can expect to be cleared directly to the initial approach waypoint, then subsequently cleared for the approach including the appropriate transition. Refer AIC 28/18.

  • Slots are currently required for all flights between 0030-0630 local time. The airport authority was planning to make slots mandatory for all GA/BA flights H24 from Nov 17 onwards, but this will now be delayed to some time in early 2019. For more info, contact the Airport Reservation Office at

Do you know more? Drop us a line!

AYPY/Port Moresby restrictions during APEC 2018

The 2018 APEC meeting will be held in AYPY/Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on 15 and 16 November, 2018. If you’re trying to get there, here’s what you need to know…

What’s happening at the airport?

  • Parking – There may not even be enough space for all the official delegations’ aircraft, let alone anyone else, so expect parking congestion also at YBCS/Cairns and YBTL/Townsville airports. YBTL will also be used as a base by Australian military aircraft tasked with assisting the airspace security during the event; if you are heading there, make sure you read and carry the AIP SUP H99/18.
  • Night closures – Closures of the main runway (14L/32R) mean that the airport is effectively closed each night from 2100-0430 local time until 13 November.
  • Customs – if you’re actually going to AYPY during this period, you can view the APEC Customs handbook here.
  • Flight Plans – If you indicate the wrong ADS-B FLT ID (in Section 7 of your FPL) and are inbound or outbound to AYPY/Port Moresby or AYNZ/Lae Nadzab you can expect a 20 minute delay or holding (A1069/18 refers).

What’s happening in the airspace?

AIP SUPP 5/2018 outlines the airspace restrictions for APEC2018. Here are the important bits, all effective from Nov 2-20:

  • Watch out for overflights of AYPY, as there’s a 90 NM ADIZ in place around the airport from SFC-FL600.
  • There is a temporary restricted area (TRA931) 30 NM around AYPY, SFC-FL330. Anyone flying to/from AYPY with a valid flight plan and talking to ATC can enter this area.
  • There is another more restrictive area (TRA930) over the CBD and event venue. Only APEC aircraft can enter this area.
  • Actual activation times will be notified by NOTAM.
  • Expect Royal Australia Air Force FA18 fast jets to be patrolling and operating with ‘due regard‘ overhead during various times

A real life report…

Here’s a report from an Opsgroup member trying to operate to AYPY/Port Moresby for the APEC summit:

- The closest parking spot we could get for a G650 is YPDN/Darwin. We were denied parking in YBCS/Cairns; we were told parking is reserved for head of states only. YBTL/Townsville denied us parking too, on the basis of no space available.

- The handler at AYPY/Port Moresby is not very responsive at the best of times, and has been unreliable also in the past, even when no special event was going on. In the past we once even got handling confirmed for an arrival during a scheduled runway closure!

- Until Nov 30, crew/pax visas cannot be arranged upon arrival, to enhance security during the APEC event. Instead, visa requests must be made through embassies during this time. This is normally not a problem outside of special events. The PNG Embassy in London have been very quick in getting visas approved for our crew, with a maximum turn of 5 working days, and as short as 3 working days.

Some other Supplementary information if you are operating to AYPY/Port Moresby:

  • High terrain in close proximity.
  • Navaids not monitored by ATC. Standby power reported to be available. Jackson and Parer locaters no longer in operational use. Disregard any procedures that use these aids.
  • Navaids may not be accurate or serviceable. Review all available information prior to use and perform appropriate crosschecks to verify navaid integrity.
  • ATC may give inappropriate radar vectors and ALT instructions. During radar outage, ATC will provide procedural control. Maintain situation awareness to ensure safety not
    compromised. Refer to Radar Terrain Clearance Chart to cross-check altitudes.
  • RWY 14L has upslope for 3/4 of its length, then slopes downward to the RWY 32R threshold, giving the illusion that the runway is shorter than actual.
  • In gusty winds, expect windshear on approach RWY 14L.
  • T-VASIS may be unserviceable without prior warning.
  • Engine start clearance not required unless notified on ATIS.
  • POB should be given with pushback request.
  • Airway B220 is a designated two-way airway. Beware potential late-notice opposite direction traffic given close proximity to FIR boundary.
  • Short-notice deterioration of ATC services may occur. If ATC not available, revert to CTAF on tower frequency.

Did we miss something? Let us know!

Bermuda ATC Radar Out Of Service all week

It’s going to be mostly sunny and warm (78F, 26C) this week in Bermuda if you’re heading that way – but you should also know they are going to be full non-radar – so plan ahead.

We put together what you need to know.

Firstly, the Bermuda Secondary Surveillance Radar will be out of service for 7 days starting this coming Monday, 29 October, at 1100z (0800L). The NOTAM says it will be back to normal the following Monday, 5 November, at 1700z (1400L).

The following non-radar procedures are in effect (NOTAM – A0404/18 and A0154/18)

  • If you are landing at TXKF/Bermuda you should flight plan and expect FL310 or below at the NY Oceanic CTA/FIR boundary. 
  • Expect possible flow restrictions due to traffic volume and/or during adverse weather.
  • Carry fuel to cover “minimum” of 15 minute arrival/departure delay.
  • All aircraft must file via MOMON 1 or POPOP 1 RNAV STAR however there are restrictions on which transitions can be used:
    • MOMON 1 – Only DASER, ANVER and RNGRS transitions allowed
    • POPOP 1 – Only BALTN and JIMAC transitions allowed
  • Departing aircraft must file via either the BORNN 1 or SOMRR 1 RNAV SIDs.
  • If you are NON-RNAV then you must flight plan to DASER, ANVER, RNGRS, BALTN, or JIMAC (180 nm ARC BDA VOR) then the respective airway to BDA VOR.

In likely far more shocking news, an island in the middle of the ocean is expecting lots of birds, namely lots of Killdeers.
How these cute little things could kill deers shocks me 🙄 – you have been warned however!

Pay up or else! Crew held hostage by Customs agents in Ivory Coast

“Beware all pilots traveling to Abidjan, Customs is waiting for you!”

That is the message we received in a disconcerting report this week from one of our long-time members which certainly troubled us here at OpsGroup. We thought it was important to share.

The pilot told us that he and his business jet were recently “held hostage” by airport custom officials in the port city of DIAP/Abidjan, Ivory Coast, West Africa.

The crew had all the appropriate landing and overflight permits as required. GenDec’s, passports and associated documents were also in order. Therefore, all the evidence points to a good old fashioned shakedown and a convoluted scheme setup between local Customs agents and certain ground handlers to extort bribes from foreign crew.

The report we received explains how the crew were ramp checked by Customs officials after landing. The aircraft documents were confiscated and the Captain was “interrogated until 1am” the following morning.

The officials claimed that the pilot both failed to declare their arrival, as well as the “aircraft contents, passengers and baggage.”

The fine was CFA 6,900,000,000 (yes billion!) francs, which equates to USD $12,066,720 (yes, million!)

Ay Caramba!

The offence was purported to be importing a high value item (aircraft) without customs approval. The high fine figure was “based on the insurance value of the aircraft.”

The crew were held hostage in the country for 10 days until senior Customs officials could finally agree on the appropriate “accusation” and that the associated fine was actually “legal”.

After the 10 days, the crew were able to negotiate a deal and depart safely – although not without having to involve the aircraft’s insurance underwriter, who paid a ‘substantial amount’ for the aircraft to be allowed to depart.

On reflection, the crew noted that if Customs does meet your aircraft without you arranging it in advance, “you can be sure you are about to be trapped.” They do not tell you why they are looking for documents, more specifically, your aircraft documents, and will not tell you anything as they walk away to call their seniors, carrying your documents with them.

So in short: do not let go of your documents!

The advice from our member:

  • Contact the handling agent first hand and double check that they are an approved, recognized handler and have approval from the various authorities (immigration, customs, police, anti-drug) to operate airside. Also check that they can arrange for you to get to the Customs and Immigration officers landside. Do not assume because the handler takes all your documents and gives you an invoice and receipts that the authorities have been advised of your arrival and situation.
  • The Abidjan Customs authority does not recognize a GenDec as an approved form of advice about passengers, health and cargo. They will also not sign off on the submitted GenDec. They will not come to your aircraft unless you specifically arrange for them to do so.

It’s important to stress that we are not talking about a small African airstrip in the back lots. This is a large international gateway with many major international airlines serving the city. Over 4 million people live here and it’s the economic capital of the Ivory Coast.  But corruption is endemic, it spills over every sector of the public administration; clearly even into Customs!

As Brookings put it, “for the inspector, the temptation is large because his salary is relatively small compared to the potential bribe.” It still doesn’t make it right and this experience serves a timely warning for all crew operating through the airport.

Have you been subjected to similar behavior when passing through DIAP/Abidjan? Let us know.

Extra Reading

Non-refundable Bangladesh permits

The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh recently published circular 02/2018 which outlines a $195 USD overflight permit fee for non-scheduled foreign aircraft transiting the VGFR/Dhaka FIR . The fee is certainly on the high side but the disappointing part is :

“The payment is non-refundable, irrespective of the approval or rejection to the permit request.”

Say what?

There was a similar type of no-refund situation within the TNCF/Curaco FIR but we now understand after some noise, operators are getting refunds as per normal industry practice.

We say it’s time for the CAA in Bangladesh to stop this non-refundable nonsense.

Have you had a permit denied and not received your money back? Reach out and Let us know!

Indy Center kicks off CPDLC trials – the system is live!

The United States is rolling out En Route FANS CPDLC during 2018-19, for all equipped, trained and permitted operators. The FAA’s Advisory Circular AC 90-117 outlines the requirements for U.S. operators.

Trials have begun with KZID/Indianapolis going live with 24/7 ops starting last week.

We also understand that KZME/Memphis and KZKC/Kansas City are still in the testing phase with CPDLC and voice read back happening 1-2 nights per week during the midnight shift.

The current deployment schedule as it stands can be found in this graphic. [if you know what DFV means, let us know!]

How to participate:

  • The FANS logon is “KUSA” for the entire country and you may logon at any time. The CPDLC connection will become active after departure, and the crew is notified via a welcome message uplink. If En Route FANS CPDLC enabled airspace is active, you will stay logged on. If the aircraft transitions from En Route FANS CPDLC enabled airspace into non-Data Link airspace with an active CPDLC connection then the connection will terminate approximately seven minutes after exiting.
  • To participate, file “DAT/FANSE” in Field 18 of the ICAO Flight Plan.
  • Equipment required is VDL Mode 2, indicated as “J4” in Field 10a of the ICAO Flight Plan.
  • If an operator wants to use domestic En Route FANS CPDLC and is already using FANS DCL then the the majority of operations will fall into one of these scenarios:
    • (1) The operator uses FANS DCL via the “DAT/1FANS2PDC” preference in Field 18 of the ICAO Flight Plan. In that case, update the preference to “DAT/1FANSE2PDC“.
    • (2) The operator uses FANS DCL via the FAA’s Subscriber Database. In that case, the operator will want to add the entry “DAT/FANSE” in Field 18 of the Flight Plan.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Domestic En Route FANS CPDLC enabled airspace will be seamlessly integrated with foreign (Canadian) and Oceanic FANS CPDLC enabled airspace.
  • The Oceanic Clearance will not be delivered via FANS CPDLC. You will still need to request the clearance via AFIS/ACARS or obtain it via voice.

Have you had the chance to try it out recently? Let us know!

Extra Reading:

Extra overnight slots for Hong Kong extended until 2019

We reported a few months back that the Airport Authority (AAHK) and the Hong Kong Schedule Coordination Office (HKSCO) have decided to trial an increase in slot availability from 4 to 6 total slots each night. It looks like the trial is being extended until March 2019.

The published details:

Notice on night slot availability (trial from 8 August 2018 until 31 March 2019)

  1. The number of slots available for GA/BA operations between 0000 to 0500 local time (16-21 UTC) will increase from 4 slots daily to 6 slots daily.
  2. The application procedure for these 6 slots will be the same as that for the 4 daily slots currently available.
  3. The above are provided on a trial and temporary basis and are subject to continuous review jointly by AAHK and HKSCO.
  4. Also important to note, as pointed out to us by our friends at the Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA) – these 6 slots will be made available to all aircraft types, not just the ones currently exempted from the noise abatement regulations. This means that BBJ’s/ACJ’s/Lineage 1000/Globals/G650ER etc can now operate in and out of Hong Kong at night-time, subject to slot availability.
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