Author: David Mumford (page 1 of 9)

New NAT Contingency Procedures for 2019

Starting 28th March 2019, there will be some changes to the contingency and weather deviation procedures on the NAT. ICAO has published a new NAT Ops Bulletin with all the details.

Before, there was a lot of confusion around the wording of these two procedures – but ICAO has now made this much clearer, and they have even included a little graphic to help us understand how it will work.

Thing is, it’s still a little clunky. So we decided to make our own version!

Click on the image to open larger version.

What’s new?

The simple answer is this: contingency offsets that previously were 15 NM with actions at 10 NM are basically now all 5 NM offsets with a turn of at least 30 degrees (not 45 degrees).

Rarely do we see ICAO oceanic contingency procedures undergo a formal revision. The last time a major revision occurred was in 2006 when ICAO standardized a 15 NM offset executed with a turn of at least 45 degrees. Prior to that, the North Atlantic and the Pacific had used different offset distances and a 90 degree turn.

Where and when?

A trial implementation is scheduled to begin in the North Atlantic High Level Airspace (NAT HLA) and New York Oceanic West (WATRS) starting 28th March 2019. ICAO is expected to formally publish the Standard in an update to PANS-ATM (ICAO Doc 4444) on 5 November 2020.

Why?

To support reduced separation being implemented in conjunction with Advanced Surveillance Enhanced Separation (ASEPS), Space Based ADS-B surveillance. The details for the ASEP trial can be found in NAT OPS Bulletin 2018-006 Trial Implementation of ASEPS using ADS-B.

Old version vs New version – full wording

Here’s the old version, as per the latest version of the NAT Doc 007, paragraph 13.3. (Note – this will be valid UNTIL 27 March 2019):

The aircraft should leave its assigned route or track by initially turning at least 45° to the right or left whenever this is feasible.

An aircraft that is able to maintain its assigned flight level, after deviating 10 NM from its original cleared track centreline and therefore laterally clear of any potentially conflicting traffic above or below following the same track, should: 
a) climb or descend 1000 ft if above FL410 
b) climb or descend 500 ft when below FL410 
c) climb 1000 ft or descend 500 ft if at FL410

An aircraft that is unable to maintain its assigned flight level (e.g due to power loss, pressurization problems, freezing fuel, etc.) should, whenever possible, initially minimise its rate of descent when leaving its original track centreline and then when expected to be clear of any possible traffic following the same track at lower levels and while subsequently maintaining a same direction 15 NM offset track, descend to an operationally feasible flight level, which differs from those normally used by 500 ft if below (or by 1000 ft if above FL410).

Before commencing any diversion across the flow of adjacent traffic or before initiating any turn-back (180°), aircraft should, while subsequently maintaining a same direction 15 NM offset track, expedite climb above or descent below the vast majority of NAT traffic (i.e. to a level above FL410 or below FL290), and then maintain a flight level which differs from those normally used: by 1000 ft if above FL410, or by 500 ft if below FL410. However, if the flight crew is unable or unwilling to carry out a major climb or descent, then any diversion or turn-back manoeuvre should be carried out at a level 500 ft different from those in use within the NAT HLA, until a new ATC clearance is obtained.

And here’s the new version, as per the NAT OPS Bulletin 2018-005 Special Procedures for In-flight Contingencies in Oceanic Airspace (Note – this will be valid FROM 28 March 2019):

If prior clearance cannot be obtained, the following contingency procedures should be employed until a revised clearance is received:

Leave the cleared route or track by initially turning at least 30 degrees to the right or to the left, in order to intercept and maintain a parallel, direction track or route offset 9.3 km (5.0 NM).

Once established on a parallel, same direction track or route offset by 9.3 km (5.0 NM), either: 
a) descend below FL 290, and establish a 150 m (500 ft) vertical offset from those flight levels normally used, and proceed as required by the operational situation or if an ATC clearance has been obtained, proceed in accordance with the clearance; or 
b) establish a 150 m (500 ft) vertical offset (or 300 m (1000 ft) vertical offset if above FL 410) from those flight levels normally used, and proceed as required by the operational situation, or if an ATC clearance has been obtained, proceed in accordance with the clearance.

Note. — Descent below FL 290 is considered particularly applicable to operations where there is a predominant traffic flow (e.g. east-west) or parallel track system where the aircraft’s diversion path will likely cross adjacent tracks or routes. A descent below FL 290 can decrease the likelihood of: conflict with other aircraft, ACAS RA events and delays in obtaining a revised ATC clearance.

So to reiterate, the important change is that contingency offsets that previously were 15 NM with actions at 10 NM are basically now all 5 NM offsets with a turn of at least 30 degrees (not 45 degrees).

Weather deviations

If you have to deviate from your assigned track due to anything weather-related, there’s a whole different procedure to follow. Again, the NAT Ops Bulletin has all the details for this, but the bottom line seems to be:

For deviations of less than 5 NM, remain at the flight level assigned by ATC.

For deviations of 5 NM or more, when you are at the 5 NM point initiate a change as follows:

If flying EAST, descend left by 300ft, or climb right by 300ft.

If flying WEST, climb left by 300ft, or descend right by 300ft.

In other words – SAND! (South of track = Ascend, North of track = Descend; Up/Down by 300ft)

But remember, going right is probably better – it gets you out of the way of all the SLOP offset traffic that might be coming at you from the opposite direction!

Turnback procedure

In both the NAT Ops Bulletin and the new NAT Doc 007 which will take effect from 28 Mar 2019, ICAO has left out any specific reference to how to divert across the flow of traffic or turn-back procedure, and instead simplified it to just “proceed as required by the operational situation”. Turning back would assume you either employ the 5NM offset as per the new contingency procedure, or else get a new revised clearance.

Bottom line

If you operate in the NAT HLA, we recommend you read and review the NAT Ops Bulletin in its entirety. It’s relatively short but, beginning 28 March 2019, the procedures are expected to be implemented. You might want to prepare changes for your Ops Manuals and checklists too.

Make sure you stay tuned to OPSGROUP for changes that may occur as we approach 28 March 2019!

Mitch Launius is an International Procedures Instructor Pilot with 30 West IP and can be contacted through his website, www.30westip.com

Further reading:

  • On Nov 1st we had a call with 140 OPSGROUP members about upcoming changes on the NAT in 2019, and how we can effect change. OPSGROUP members can find the PDF notes of this in your Dashboard.
  • A big thing driving the ASEPS trial is the rollout of Space-based ADS-B, which is scheduled to complete its deployment by 30 Dec 2018, giving us worldwide, pole-to-pole surveillance of aircraft. For more on that, and how it will affect operations on the NAT specifically, read the article by Mitch Launius here.
  • Use our quick guide to figure out where you are welcome on the NAT, depending on what equipment and training you have.

Indonesia is intercepting aircraft – outside their airspace

If you are operating in the Singapore FIR, consider this carefully: you may be overflying Indonesia without knowing it. Indonesia will know though, and they want you to have an overflight permit.

You will find out in one of three ways:

  1. You’ll be intercepted by two Indonesian Air Force fighter jets and brought to Indonesia
  2. You’ll receive a nastygram via your National Authority
  3. You’ll get a fine

2. and 3. are not cool, but 1. is something to avoid at all costs. The inside of military/police cells at outlying Indonesian Airports is not pretty.

Watch out for the following airways – M758, M646, M767, G334, M761, G580. These all pass over Indonesian territory, even though the area is actually part of the Singapore and Malaysia FIRs.

Indonesia has a reputation for excessively strict enforcement of permit rules.

On 14 Jan 2019, two Indonesian F-16s intercepted an Ethiopian Airlines cargo flight ETH3728 for flying across Indonesian airspace without permission. The aircraft was initially supposed to operate from HAAB/Addis Ababa to VHHH/Hong Kong, but was modified at the last minute to route via WSSS/Singapore instead, to make a delivery of Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines.

The Ethiopian Airlines aircraft was intercepted forced to land at WIDD/Batam Island – which lies right in the middle of the chunk of airspace controlled by Singapore.

Another incident happened back in 2014, where a King Air plane en-route from WBGG/Kuching to WSSS/Singapore was intercepted by Indonesian fighter jets in the same airspace managed by Singapore, and forced to land at WIOO/Pontianak Airport in Indonesia.

The reason? Because they were overflying some Indonesian islands out in the ocean, the Indonesian Air Force claimed they were overflying Indonesia’s sovereign skies – without a permit.

Indonesia still hasn’t updated its AIP, but the rules they enforce are clear: if you’re overflying any Indonesian territory, you must get an overflight permit, regardless of the flight level.

Here’s a nastygram to an OPSGROUP member, received in February 2017:


Bottom line: check your airways carefully, and make sure there are no Indonesian Island underneath. If there are, get a permit.

Venezuela crisis: the impact on international ops

All operators, in particular those with an N-reg on the tail, should be aware of the rapidly deepening political and economic crisis in Venezuela.

There are shortages of food and many basic goods across the country. Since the start of 2018, there have numerous reports of boats full of starving Venezuelans, many of which left the country illegally, turning up on the shores of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. The U.N. is now warning of a humanitarian “catastrophe”, as worsening food shortages have seen looting and protests escalate throughout 2018.

In recent months, Colombia has tightened controls along it’s border with Venezuela, to try to curb the flow of thousands of migrants seeking to escape.

Here’s a summary of the current situation:

SVMI/Caracas Airport

  • The airport is located in an extremely high-risk area for armed robbery and kidnappings. Before suspending all flights to Venezuela in Aug 2017, Avianca hired bodyguards after shots were fired during a robbery of a bus carrying its crew. Some other carriers took to flying crew to spend the night in neighbouring countries, rather than risk staying overnight anywhere in Caracas. In Feb 2018, Ecuadorian state airline Tame joined Avianca in a long list of airlines that no longer operate to the country, including: Aerolineas Airlines, United Airlines, Aeromexico, Lufthansa, Alitalia and Air Canada. Most reports estimate that international traffic in Venezuela has dropped by around 65-75% since its peak in 2013.
  • Reports of airport officials detaining some passengers for long periods, often demanding bribes and confiscating personal items. The US have warned that “security forces have arbitrarily detained U.S. citizens for long periods”, and that “the U.S. Embassy may not be notified of the detention of a U.S. citizen, and consular access to detainees may be denied or severely delayed.”
  • Colombia’s pilots’ association says its members who have flown to Venezuela have had to deal with contaminated fuel and hours-long delays as the National Guard pulls suitcases off flights to loot them.
  • On Aug 8, 2017, a Venezuelan lawyer was shot dead at a ticket counter at SVMI/Caracas airport. In 2016, an Egyptian visitor was killed walking outside the airport between terminals after arriving on a flight from Germany.
  • Frequent power and water cut across the country. The airport suffered power cuts in Dec 2017 and again in Mar 2018, forcing the suspension of all ops for several hours each time.

Travel advice   Most western countries are all now advising “all but essential travel”. A large majority of airline carriers have now stopped operating to Venezuela, for a mix of reasons – not least because onward payment of ticket monies have been stopped by the Venezuelan government. The US describes the greatest current risks as social unrest, violent crime, pervasive food and medicine shortages, and the arbitrary arrest and detention on U.S. citizens.

Sanctions   Both the EU and the US have imposed sanctions on Venezuela, with specific restrictions on President Maduro himself. This creates an uncertain situation for foreign aircraft operating in Venezuelan airspace. So far there have not been any reported cases of any retaliatory sanctions, such as grounding of foreign aircraft, although with the crisis worsening, such measures are not out of the question.

Notable withdrawals   In 2017, the UK Foreign Office followed the US in withdrawing family of personnel from their respective embassies. This is a common precursor to a deeper security risk, and in the last 5 years we’ve seen this pattern in Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Then in Jan 2018, IATA closed its offices in Venezuela. They said that the exchange controls the government placed on taking money out of the country effectively left it with a debt to IATA of $3.8 billion, which it refused to pay.

Flight Ops   See below on overflight. There were interruptions to Notam and Metar service throughout 2017. At one point it appeared that SV** had lost its connection to the international AFTN system.

Opsfox   The most recent Opsfox reports are not encouraging. The latest report from Jan 2019 says the following:
– Airport feels tense. Military presence has increased, nobody hanging around in the terminal, and foreign maintenance providers were evacuated last week.
– The whole runway surface has worsened, with big potholes and loose asphalt; taxiways are worse, and mostly unlighted.
– We had four police officers riding along on the hotel shuttle.
– Poor ATC, transmissions are very weak, sometimes unable to read even with max volume.
– There’s no money to change. Only option for hotel was to pay in cash. Watch out for massive charges if paying by card.
– Seems like an external military invasion may be coming soon.
If you’ve been through recently, add your report.

Overflight   Operations through Venezuelan airspace do not require an overflight permit, and so there have been no incidences recorded of US aircraft being denied a permit. However, on several occasions in 2018, Venezuela arbitrarily closed its airspace to overflying aircraft for short periods. A common problem with Venezuelan overflight is the denial of airspace entry due to unpaid navigation fees, which is why checking this in advance is recommended. This may be a tool used to deny US aircraft entry in the future. Plan operations through the SVZM/Maiquetia FIR with caution. To be clear, we do not assess any risk to en-route aircraft, but be mindful of the fact that if you do enter SVZM airspace, you may end up diverting to an Venezuelan airport. Right now, that’s not ideal.

Avoiding Venezuela  If you elect to avoid SVZM airspace…

To the west:
– via Colombia (SKED/Bogota FIR) – permit required for all overflights.
– watch out if planning a flight through the TNCF/Curacao FIR – although a permit to overfly is not required here, they have started denying entry to non-IATA members if they have not prepaid for navigation fees in advance. More on that here.

To the east:
– via Guyana (SYGC/Georgetown FIR) – permit not required
– via Suriname (SMPM/Paramaribio FIR) – permit required
– via French Guyana (SOOO/Rochambeau FIR) – permit required unless operating a GA aircraft under 12.5k lbs.

For more detailed info on each country’s specific permit requirements, take a look here.

If you need a tech stop and previously used/considered SVMI, then look at alternatives like TNCC, TTPP, SBEG, SMJP. Use the OpsGroup planning map to figure your best alternate options.

Malaysia shuts down plans for ILS approach at Singapore’s Seletar Airport

Update Jan 8: Latest in the ongoing debacle at WSSL/Seletar: Malaysia have now agreed to cancel the restricted airspace they imposed to the north of the airport, and in return Singapore will suspend the ILS procedures it had planned to implement. These measures will be in place for one month, starting Jan 8, to give both countries time to try to find a more permanent solution to the dispute.

The new ILS approach on RWY 21 at WSSL/Seletar airport was due to take effect on 3rd Jan 2019, but Malaysia have effectively killed it. They claim that the ILS approach –most of which lies within Malaysia’s airspace to the north of the airport– would impose height restrictions around the Pasir Gudang industrial area, and would stunt growth in the area.

Malaysia decided to create a no-fly-zone across an entire chunk of airspace just across the border from Singapore, up to 6000ft. This ultimately would have made RWY 21 ILS approaches at WSSL/Seletar impossible.

Malaysia WMFC/Kuala Lumpur restricted airspace as per Notam A4018/18

Singapore and Malaysia’s foreign ministers met on Jan 8 to discuss this mess; Malaysia agreed to cancel the restricted airspace they imposed, and in return Singapore agreed to suspend the ILS procedures.

The two countries have been locked in a wider ongoing dispute over airspace sovereignty, with Malaysia saying it wants to take back airspace delegated to Singapore under an agreement in 1974. But with the recent turn of events at Seletar, there is now a tangible impact to flight operations.

Discussions between the two countries will continue throughout January, but don’t plan on making use of the ILS approach any time soon.

In other news: The night curfew at Seletar is going ahead as planned. Authorities have now published AIP SUP 86/2018 which confirms that with effect from 1st Jan 2019, the airport will be closed to all flights (except medevac and emergency diverts) nightly from 22-07 local time.

Further reading:

  • AIP SUP 79/2018, the official announcement by the Singapore CAA about the new ILS on RWY 21. The instrument approach chart can be found here.

First look at NAT changes for 2019

Starting 28th March 2019, a new trial will be implemented on the NAT called ASEPS (Advanced Surveillance Enhanced Procedural Separation) using ADS-B in the Shanwick, Gander and Santa Maria FIRs.

Compliant aircraft will see a reduction in longitudinal separation to as close as 14 NM. This is not restricted to particular tracks or altitudes, just between properly equipped aircraft – you’ll need RVSM/HLA approval, ADS-B, and to be fully PBCS compliant (that means meeting the specifications of RNP4, RCP240 and RSP180). Read this ICAO Bulletin for all the details.

When the ASEPS trial starts, there will also be some changes to the contingency and weather deviation procedures. Before, there was a lot of confusion around the wording of these two procedures – this has now been made much clearer, and they have even included a nice little graphic to help us understand what to do. Read this ICAO Bulletin for all the details.

ICAO have published all these changes in their updated NAT 007 Doc valid for 28th March 2019.

Further reading:

  • On Nov 1st we had a call with 140 Opsgroup members about upcoming changes on the NAT in 2019, and how we can effect change. Opsgroup members can find the PDF notes of this in your Dashboard.
  • A big thing driving the ASEPS trial is the rollout of Space-based ADS-B, which is scheduled to complete its deployment by 30 Dec 2018, giving us worldwide, pole-to-pole surveillance of aircraft. For more on that, and how it will affect operations on the NAT specifically, read the article by Mitch Launius here.
  • Use our quick guide to figure out where you are welcome on the NAT, depending on what equipment and training you have.
  • All the big changes on the NAT in 2018 are covered on our page here.

The Impact of Space-Based ADS-B on International Operations

I can distinctly remember the build up to and roll out of GPS navigations systems. Like so many of us, I was excited to see this new technology integrated into my cockpit. The idea that I would have the capability to accurately determine my position anywhere in the world was exciting!

It’s hard to overstate the significance of GPS navigation on the international operation of aircraft, particularly when operating in oceanic airspace. Today we are about to reach a similar milestone that could be even more significant – the introduction of a Space-Based Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (SB ADS-B) monitoring system.

When SB ADS-B completes its deployment (scheduled 30 December 2018), we will achieve worldwide, pole-to-pole surveillance of aircraft. This goes beyond a pilot knowing his or her own location. This opens up the ability for ATC to locate any ADS-B equipped aircraft anywhere in the world. With the US and EU ADS-B requirements approaching in 2020, aircraft that operate internationally will almost certainly be ADS-B equipped.

A brief history of Space-Based ADS-B

SB ADS-B technology has been placed into service by a commercial company, Aireon, and not a governmental entity, which has enabled it to be brought to operational status in a much shorter timeline than most other government implementations.

Although Aireon was initially established in 2012 to provide civilian surveillance services, the disappearance of Malaysia Flight 370 changed the industry. The inability to locate the aircraft forced industry regulators to consider how improved aircraft tracking might have helped to resolve the location of the aircraft in distress and prevent a future disaster. In response to this concern, ICAO created a standard for aircraft tracking designated as the Global Aeronautical Distress Safety System (GADSS). Aireon responded by creating a low-cost tracking solution based on aircraft ADS-B equipage utilizing the SB ADS-B network to meet that tracking requirement faster and cheaper than many of the alternatives.

This implementation takes advantage of the same ADS-B 1090ES systems already installed in most aircraft, not requiring any additional investment or modification from operators who currently comply with ICAO ADS-B approved 1090ES systems. Compare this to the evolving and evasive FANS 1/A+ requirements that have placed many operators in the position of having to upgrade aircraft (at great expense) only to find they are not PBCS and/or U.S. domestic compliant. Quite a contrast.

What are the benefits?

The primary advantage of the introduction of surveillance into oceanic operations will be a reduction in separation. Initially, this will be applied to in-trail spacing (longitudinal separation) and potentially reduce that separation to as close as 14 Nautical Miles (NM). The current longitudinal standard for data link approved aircraft is 5 minutes or approximately 50NM. The introduction would significantly increase the capacity of the most fuel-efficient routes and altitudes. The trial implementation is not expected to be restricted to specified tracks or altitudes, just between properly equipped aircraft.

Another key advantage of SB ADS-B is that the system is based on an active constellation of 66 low earth orbit satellites with geo-synchronous orbits that provide worldwide coverage. The system will also have 9 backup satellites available in orbit as well. The information on worldwide aircraft location will be in the system, it’s just a matter of having it sent to ATC control panels that are properly equipped to display the information. The SB ADS-B system operates independently from the ADS-B ground stations and can provide a direct data feed to air navigation service providers (ANSPs).

The primary targets for Aireon SB ADS-B services are ANSPs such as the FAA, EASA, Africa’s ASECNA, South Africa, New Zealand, Singapore, etc. This brings tremendous value to areas like Africa and Southeast Asia where ANSP’s face unique challenges involving infrastructure. Placing a network of ground-based ADS-B receivers in remote areas can expose them to vandalism or theft. As an example, a recently installed ILS system in Benin, Nigeria was stolen!

What does my aircraft need to be compliant?

In order for SB ADS-B separation reduction to be applied, aircraft will be required to be ADS-B and fully PBCS compliant. The controlling agency will determine eligibility based on the flight plan filing codes for ADS-B and PBCS. Let’s recall that the PBCS requires FANS 1/A+ approval with RCP240, RSP180, and RNP 4 capabilities. Just add ADS-B, NAT HLA, and RVSM equipage and approval and you’re ready! That is a lot of approvals, plus let’s not forget, TCAS Version 7.1 and Enhanced Mode S Transponder equipage is required as well.

Where will it be implemented?

Initial trial use of SB ADS-B for surveillance and separation will begin in Canada’s Edmonton Flight Information Region (FIR) in the first quarter of 2019. This will be followed by a planned trial launch in the North Atlantic (NAT) on 29 March 2019. The NAT oceanic surveillance trial program will be employed in both in Gander and Shanwick’s oceanic FIRs. Santa Maria will also introduce ADS-B separation standards, but that program will initially be limited to ground-based ADS-B operations.

We anticipate a mid-December 2018 release of a North Atlantic Ops Bulletin detailing the trial implementation which will be referred to as “Advanced Surveillance-Enhanced Procedural Separation” (ASEPS). This is to be followed by ICAO publishing the associated standards for ASEPS in a 5 November 2019 update to Procedures for Air Navigation Services – Air Traffic Management (PANS-ATM) Document 4444. This would move the ASEPS program beyond trial use and allow implementation of ASEPS based operations worldwide.

The final specifics involved in the trial program will be detailed in Canadian and United Kingdom Aeronautical Information Publications (AIPs), most likely involving a release of Aeronautical Information Circulars (AICs) to formally initiate the trial programs.

The NAT HLA does not anticipate requiring ADS-B for airspace entry but simply employing it as available. The impending U.S. and EU ADS-B requirements in 2020 will help ensure common equipage.

The introduction of ASEPS reduced separation standards in oceanic and remote regions will also impact contingency procedures for operators in the NAT HLA. To address this concern ICAO has created new contingency procedures for oceanic and remote operations which will also be identified in the November 2019 update to Procedures for Air Navigation Services – Air Traffic Management (PANS-ATM) Document 4444.

We expect the mid-December release of an additional North Atlantic Ops Bulletin detailing the trial implementation of these new contingency procedures in the NAT HLA airspace to be implemented with ASEPS. These new contingency procedures will initially only be used in the NAT HLA but, after the ICAO approval in November 2019, they may be implemented in other oceanic regions as well.

It would be important to note that the ASEPS target date for implementation, 29 March 2019, is also the target date for the expansion of the PBCS tracks in the North Atlantic Organized Track System. Add in the change in contingency procedures and that is a lot of moving parts, all happening at the same time, in the most congested oceanic airspace in the world.

One thing we don’t anticipate changing on March 2019 is strategic lateral offset procedures (SLOP). Changes may follow down the road but it’s not on the calendar now.

Let’s all get ready for a busy spring in the North Atlantic!

Mitch Launius is an International Procedures Instructor Pilot with 30West IP and can be contacted through his website: www.30westip.com

Seletar launches new terminal on Nov 19

As WSSL/Seletar prepares to open its new $80 million terminal on Nov 19, the authorities have announced that WSSL is now a “schedules facilitated” airport.

Don’t panic – at least, not yet. This basically just means that because demand is now getting close to the airport’s capacity, all airline and charter flights must confirm their schedules with the airport in advance  – BA/GA flights don’t need to do this.

It does not mean that the airport has become slot coordinated, although that might happen at some point in the future if congestion continues to be a problem.

As for the new terminal, it looks like it will be a decent improvement on the old one…

The new facility – six times bigger than the old terminal – will be split in two, with one large section for airline flights, and another separate section dedicated for GA/BA.

Here’s a video of what the new terminal looks like!

The idea is to free up capacity at WSSS/Singapore by moving all scheduled turboprop flights to WSSL/Seletar when the new terminal opens. At the moment, the only airline that falls into this category is Malaysia’s Firefly – which currently operates 20 daily flights at WSSS – to and from WMSA/Subang, WMKI/Ipoh and WMKD/Kuantan.

Important to note – all BA/GA traffic must switch to using the new terminal when it opens on Nov 19 at midnight local time. Jet Aviation have provided a handy printout which tells you all you need to know about using the new terminal. Note that the new terminal is on the other side of the runway from the old terminal!

In other news, the ASEAN summit will be finishing up in Singapore tomorrow, Nov 15. At WSSS/Singapore, no GA/BA parking/slots are available until Nov 17, with no tech-stops or drop-and-go’s allowed either. At WSSL/Seletar, the airport will be closed on Nov 15 from 0830-1900 local time.

Did we miss something? Get in touch!

Further reading:

No change to Iran airspace warning despite new US sanctions

The US reimposed sanctions against Iran on Nov 5. Despite this, so far there has been no change to the FAA guidance to US operators issued on 9th September 2018: flights to Iran are not prohibited, but operators should “exercise caution” when flying in Iranian airspace.

However, with the reimposed sanctions comes a new problem if you’re a US operator: you’re allowed to overfly Iran, but you’re not allowed to pay for all the things needed to make that happen – things like overflight permits, and nav fees.

The rule is simple: no US person or business can pay for services in countries with sanctions against them (like Iran), unless that person or business has a licence to do so, issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

And you’re not allowed to get an agent to do it for you either; it’s illegal to skirt the OFAC laws by using a 3rd party company (unless, of course, they’ve been approved by OFAC).

So the big question we have now is this: if you’re planning to overfly Iran, have you figured out the legalities of paying for services? How are you making that work? Know someone who’s got an OFAC licence for Iran? Let us know!

And one other thing to watch out for – operators with US based insurers should double-check their policies, as you may now no longer be covered for flights to Iran, due to the new sanctions. This is worth checking, even if you’re only planning on overflying the Tehran FIR, as any unplanned landing (decompression, medical, engine fire) may force you into Tehran or another airport – it’s a big chunk of airspace.

Further reading:

Shanghai airports closed to GA/BA

Both Shanghai airports ZSSS/Shanghai and ZSPD/Pudong will be closed to GA/BA between Nov 1-13. This is due to the China International Import Expo (CIIE) that will be taking place in Shanghai from Nov 5-10.

If you’re attending the CIIE event, then you may still be able to get permission to go to ZSPD/Pudong, but you’ll need an official invitation letter from the event organisers, as well as slot and parking approval. Bear in mind that during this period Nov 1-13, the airport will only allow landings between 0700-0855 local time each day.

For non-CIIE flights wanting to go to Shanghai during this period, the options aren’t great. Drop-and-go’s will not be permitted at either ZSSS/Shanghai or ZSPD/Pudong, and parking is now almost full at nearby airports ZSHC/Hangzhou, ZSNJ/Nanjing and ZSNB/Ningbo.

Here’s the lowdown on those three airports:

ZSHC/Hangzhou
Operating hours? H24.
Does it have an FBO? Yes, but for “domestic flights only”. Weird.
Driving time to Shanghai? 2hrs 30mins (180km)
Any other restrictions? They don’t issue arrival/departure slots to GA/BA between 0700-0859 local time.

ZSNJ/Nanjing
Operating hours? H24.
Does it have an FBO? Yes.
Driving time to Shanghai? 3hrs 30mins (300km)
Any other restrictions? They don’t issue arrival/departure slots to GA/BA between 0700-0859 local time.

ZSNB/Ningbo
Operating hours? H24.
Does it have an FBO? No.
Driving time to Shanghai? 3hrs (220km) – providing you take the road over the Hangzhou Bay Bridge
Any other restrictions? Probably. But no biggies that we know of.

For more info, or to arrange handling/parking/slots arranging at any of these airports (or anywhere else in China for that matter) we think Mainland Ground Express are a pretty good agent. Get in touch with them at ops@mgel.aero

Know a secret airport somewhere near Shanghai where GA/BA can operate to during this period, relatively hassle-free? Let us know!

Your top three PBCS questions answered

PBCS has been an ongoing PITA for some time now. We wrote about it back in March. Here are the top three questions we’ve had on it since then – and now we finally have some answers!

Question 1: What happens if I still haven’t received my updated A056 LOA?

After the PBCS tracks were introduced in March 2018, the FAA published a Notice requiring all N-reg operators to update their A056 LOA authorization – regardless of whether or not they intended to fly these PBCS tracks. For private (Part 91) operators, the deadline to submit the application was 30th September 2018.

There was a barrage of applications, and the FAA still seem to have a bit of a backlog, as even now some operators have still not received their updated approvals.

The FAA’s unofficial policy is that as long as you have applied for a revised LOA, you can continue to use your old authorization after September 30th, while you wait for the new one to be issued.

Bottom line: This means you are allowed to keep flying in the North Atlantic, just not on the PBCS tracks.

Question 2: What about that problem with aircraft with Honeywell systems installed?

Back in March, a latency timer issue with certain Honeywell FMS systems meant that there were bunch of aircraft which weren’t able to get the PBCS approval.

In June, Honeywell issued a service bulletin fix for the issue, available at varying times for different aircraft. Since then, the FAA has been issuing the updated A056 LOA approvals to those aircraft with the Honeywell systems that reflect the new capabilities but the still don’t meet the PBCS requirement of RCP240 due to the latency timer issue.

Bottom line: Now those affected aircraft are able to receive the updated A056 LOA approvals, just with a PBCS restriction – meaning they can continue to operate in the North Atlantic, just not on the PBCS tracks.

Question 3: What the heck is PBCS anyway?

PBCS stands for ‘performance-based communication and surveillance’.

PBCS involves globally coordinated and accepted standards for Required Communication Performance (RCP) and Required Surveillance Performance (RSP), with the goal being to allow the application of reduced lateral and longitudinal separation to aircraft which meet the criteria.

To be PBCS compliant, you basically need CPDLC capable of RCP240 and ADS-C capable of RSP180; this effectively means having a 4 minute comms loop, and 3 minute position reporting.

PBCS has been implemented in various different chunks of airspace around the world, but most notably in the North Atlantic, where the three core daily NAT Tracks are assigned as PBCS tracks between FL350-390. To fly those, you will need to be PBCS compliant (read above) but also have RNP4 (the rest of the NAT only requires RNP10).

Feeling queasy? That’s okay, reading about PBCS makes us feel that way too. If you’re still hungry for more though, check out our recent article on all things PBCS!

More questions? Get in touch!

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