Author: David Mumford (page 2 of 9)

No fuel at LFMN/Nice

Update July 9th: Following last week’s issues with a break in the fuel pipeline coming into the airport, local handlers are now saying there are no more issues with fuel supply and availability. However, some third-party fuel providers are warning they still cannot arrange fuel for BA/GA operators, and are advising them to tanker inbound. Do you know different? Let us know!

July 5th: Due a break in the pipeline into the airport, for most operators there is no fuel available at LFMN/Nice.

Check with your handler before operating if your uplift at Nice is essential, as many are now advising all ad-hoc operators to tanker-in.

Information is still coming in, but it appears this may affect operations for a few days. No word of other airports affected, and nothing has been published in the Notams yet.

Customs now closed overnight at KBGR/Bangor

Bad news for trans-Atlantic operators! The Customs office at KBGR/Bangor Airport will now be closing each night from 22-06 local time (02-10z).

They used to be open H24, which made Bangor a great option for trans-Atlantic operators wanting to clear U.S. Customs somewhere nice and straightforward overnight. Now with the new changes, you can still request overtime, but Customs needs 24hrs notice to arrange and will only assess on a case-by-case basis.

Now it seems that the nearest airport in the region still with Customs available H24 is KBOS/Boston International Airport, and given it’s size, it’s not the most BA/GA friendly at the best of times.

Where else to go? Here are some options:

KALB/Albany
Open 08-22 local time, 7 days a week
Available out-of-hours but minimum 2hrs notice required.

KPSM/Portsmouth
Open 08-17 weekdays only
Available out-of-hours but minimum 24hrs notice required.

KPWM/Portland
Open 07-21 local time, 7 days a week
Available out-of-hours but minimum 24hrs notice required.

Know of anywhere else in the region which provides Customs H24? If we missed somewhere obvious, let us know!

HLLL Tripoli FIR 2018 Operational Changes – Libya

UPDATE Friday 7 Sep 2018: HLLM/Mitiga Airport reopened on Sep 7, following a UN-mediated ceasefire between local militia. It had been closed since Aug 31 – the latest in a long string of closures due to heavy fighting in the area. We continue to advise against all ops to Libya, including overflights.

A number of countries already have blanket warnings in place against operating to Libya, and they all say pretty much the same thing: avoid the entire country – don’t overfly the Tripoli FIR, and don’t land at any Libyan airports.

Even the Libyan authorities have issued some guidance of their own, showing those areas that they believe to be active Conflict Zones – this type of notification from a ‘Conflict Zone state’ is rare.

HLLL/LIBYA A0067/18 
THE FOLLOWING AREAS ARE CONSIDERED TO BE CONFLICT ZONES WITHIN HLLL FIR:
AREA 1: 3116N01610E 3108N01707E 3030N01700E 3042N01605E
AREA 2: 3251N02240E 3243N02246E 3239N02218E 3247N02216E.
GND - FL195, 12 MAY 09:40 2018 UNTIL 12 AUG 12:00 2018 ESTIMATED.
CREATED: 12 MAY 09:48 2018

One of these areas is around the city of Sirte, including HLGT/Sirte Airport; and the other covers the city of Derna to the east of HLLQ/Labraq Airport:

Other than those two small areas, Libya is happily advertising the country as being open for business! In their updated Notam published in May 2018, they say their airspace is “available H24 for international traffic transiting the HLLL FIR”, and they outline their mandatory routing scheme. They also claim that HLLB/Benina, HLLM/Mitiga, HLLQ/Labraq, HLMS/Misrata and HLTQ/Tobruk airports are “available H24 for international flights and diversions”.

Don’t be fooled. Libya is still a desperately unstable country. There are still regular outages in the provision of ATC services – especially at the main airports due to security or technical failure issues. The main ACC in Tripoli is also subject to severe limitations with no radar service and limited provision of CNS/ATM services in most of the HLLL FIR airspace.

The situation at the country’s main airports is no better. Both airports in Tripoli are focal points for fighting. Given their strategic value, they periodically serve as headquarters for various local militias.

HLLT/Tripoli Airport has been more or less completely closed since mid-2014, when at least 90% of the airport’s facilities were destroyed in fighting between local militias. Since then, international flights to and from Tripoli have been using HLLM/Mitiga instead. Technically, HLLT/Tripoli is now only available for VIP, emergency and ambulance flights; but in reality, it should be avoided at all costs.

HLLM/Mitiga Airport is the old military airfield, which is now being used for civilian traffic, since the closure of HLLT/Tripoli. However, the airport has been plagued by violence over the past few years, and has been forced to close on a number of occasions.

Here’s a rough timeline of notable incidents at Libya’s main airports over the past few months:

April 2018: militants fired rockets at Mitiga, causing damage to the airport building, parts of the apron tarmac, and a parked Libya Airlines A320 aircraft (see picture to the right).

April 2018:  HLMS/Misrata Airport briefly suspended operations and redirected flights to Mitiga, when an armed group entered the airport, demanding the release of two members of a local militia.

Feb 2018: another closure at Mitiga related to ongoing clashes between local militia. This time, a mortar shell fell near the airport, and the ATC tower was evacuated, forcing flights to divert to Misrata.

Jan 2018: heavy clashes across Tripoli left at least twenty people dead and forced Mitiga to close for five days, from Jan 15-20. Gunfire at the airport damaged multiple aircraft, including a few A319s and at least one A330:

Oct 2017: a Libyan Airlines A330 at Mitiga airport was hit by gunfire during an exchange of fire between local militia in the district directly south of the airport:

Given the current security concerns, it may be prudent to ignore whatever the Libyan authorities decide to publish on the HLLL FIR Notams about the country’s airspace and main international airports being “available H24”. We continue to list the entire country as “Level 1 – Avoid” at safeairspace.net.

More:

LFMM/Marseille weekend ATC strike June 30 to July 2 – CANCELLED

Another French ATC strike has been announced for the LFMM/Marseille ACC, spanning the entire weekend June 30 – July 2. The strike will run from 0430z on Saturday 30th June to 0430z on Monday 2nd July.

Key points:

– It’s just the the controllers of the LFMM/Marseille ACC en-route airspace above FL145 who are on strike. Big delays expected for any flights trying to overfly the sector during the strike.

– Just like the previous LFMM/Marseille ACC strikes, they expect a lot of controllers will join this one. We fully expect the warning will be the same as before: “minimum service expected for the whole period” – that means that as little as 50% of FPL’s will get accepted.

– Eurocontrol are currently busy writing their Mitigation Plan, which will include recommended routes for flights to airports within the LFMM/Marseille sector during the strike, but it will be based on the info found here: http://dsnado.canalblog.com/

– Algeria and Tunisia are both expected to open-up their airspace for re-routes.

Each French ATC strike is different, but there are some things that are pretty much the same every time. For everything you need to know in order to survive, read our article!

Is Athens busy, or does it just hate Business Aviation now?

Summer parking restrictions at Greek airports are now in full swing. In previous years, it was mainly just the island airports that suffered, and airports on the mainland were used to reposition aircraft for longer stays. This year however, parking at LGAV/Athens is becoming a nightmare too.

We’ve had several reports from Opsgroup members of requests for longer stays at Athens being denied, and also previously approved requests being revoked. If you are headed to Greece, don’t count on using Athens for anything for other than a quick tech stop.

Airport authorities at Athens have now issued a Notam for the whole summer season advising that all GA/BA flights require PPR for stays of longer than two hours:

A1641/18 - DUE TO OPERATIONAL REASONS THE FOLLOWING PROCEDURES ARE IN FORCE:
1.FOR AEROPLANES WITH MTOW MORE THAN 5700 KG, PRIOR PERMISSION IS REQUIRED (PPR).
FOR: GENERAL AVIATION, BUSINESS AVIATION, AIR TAXI FLIGHTS AND ALL TECHNICAL STOP FLIGHTS, WITH INTENTION TO STAY ON THE GROUND FOR MORE THAN TWO HOURS AND/OR STAY ON GROUND BETWEEN 1800 AND 0600 UTC.
2.LONG STAY OF AIRCRAFT IS NOT PERMITTED.
14 JUN 18:00 2018 UNTIL 20 AUG 06:00.

Local handlers have confirmed that PPR for tech stops of less than two hours almost always get granted. But for parking requests of more than two hours, prepare to be disappointed. In addition, until the end of the summer the airport will no longer accept any positioning flights without pax on board, regardless of how long you’re staying.

For operators wanting to do drop-and-go’s at Athens, always ask your agent which airports they recommend repositioning to for parking, but some options worth checking (as they do not currently have any restrictions in place for maximum parking length) are: LGKO/Kos, LGSM/Samos, LGIO/Ioannina, LGKV/Kavala, LGRX/Araxos.

Further reading:

2018 (New) North Atlantic Plotting Chart published

We have published a brand new, completely updated, even more awesome  North Atlantic Plotting & Planning Chart. You’re welcome!

New on this chart – effective May 29, 2018:

:: NEW! Circle of Entry – easily check what you need for Nav, Comms and ATC Surveillance across different parts of the NAT
:: NEW! Contingency procedures for lost comms, turn-back, weather deviation.
:: NEW! HLA Airspace now highlighted on chart in yellow
:: NEW! Requirements for NAT tracks, PBCS tracks, datalink mandate.
:: Updated airspace entry requirements
:: New waypoints and corrections from previous edition
:: Updated airport data, costs, and fuel pricing for 2018.

The new chart shows all the new rules and requirements in graphical format – as well as updated airport data, costs, and fuel pricing, and new waypoints and corrections from previous edition. We’ve also included our very own Circle of Entry – easily check what you need for Nav, Comms and ATC Surveillance depending on which bit of the NAT you will be flying through.

Also updated are the FSB North Atlantic companion guides that go with the chart:

  • The NAT Ops Guide – “My First Atlantic Flight is Tomorrow”
  • Mandates Quick Reference – “NAT: Choose Your Own Adventure”
  • Circle of Entry – NAT Airspace Entry requirements

To get the new chart, you have choices!

Option 1:  Buy the chart in the Flight Service Store ($35)

Option 2:  Get the chart as part of the NAT Pack ($50), which contains all the North Atlantic guides and brochures

Option 3:  Join OPSGROUP, and get 1. and 2. for free.

OPSGROUP members get this and other publications by Flight Service Bureau, free of charge, and emailed directly on publication. To join with an individual, team, or airline/dept membership, check out OpsGroup2018.com.

Alternatively, to purchase a copy of the NAT chart from the online shop, click on the image below to download the more detailed PDF.

 

If you really need to know all there is to know about the North Atlantic right now, then the NAT Pack is your guy.

It includes:
– The current FSB North Atlantic Plotting Chart
– The FSB NAT Ops Guide “My first North Atlantic Flight is tomorrow”
– The “Circle of Entry” showing Com, Nav, and ATC requirements for the different parts of the NAT HLA
– The FSB Quick reference guide to the NAT “Choose your own adventure”.

Guatemala’s Fuego volcano disrupts ops

An eruption at Guatemala’s Fuego volcano on 3rd June resulted in the deaths of 25 people, and forced the temporary closure of MGGT/Guatemala City Airport. After the military cleared ash from the runway, the airport re-opened on 4th June, with the warning of delays due to ongoing runway inspections.

On June 3, Guatemala’s Institute for Vulcanology (INSIVUMEH) published a map showing the volcanic ash distribution (shown on the map as the area in orange, labelled ‘Ceniza’):

Further reading:

New CPDLC procedure on the NAT

There’ll soon be a new CPDLC procedure on the NAT, designed to prevent pilots from acting on any old CPDLC messages that might have been delayed in the network.

ICAO have published a new Bulletin for all the NAT Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP’s) to use as a basis for implementing this new procedure. They recommend that all aircraft should receive a message immediately after they enter each control area telling them to “SET MAX UPLINK DELAY VALUE” to a certain number of seconds. The idea is that this will prompt the pilot to enter the specified latency value into the aircraft avionics, so that it will ignore/reject any old CPDLC messages.

So far, only Iceland’s BIRD/Reykjavik FIR have implemented this procedure, effective May 24. All other sectors of NAT airspace (Gander, Shanwick, Bodo, Santa Maria, New York Oceanic) are busy writing their own AIC’s and will implement later in the year. 

So when entering the BIRD/Reykjavik FIR, expect to receive a CPDLC message from ATC instructing you to “SET MAX UPLINK DELAY VALUE TO 300 SECONDS”. A copy of their AIC with more guidance can be found here.

The latency monitor function varies from one aircraft type to another: some just automatically reject old CPDLC messages, some will display a warning to the pilot that the message has been delayed, some have deficient equipment, and some do not have the message latency monitor function implemented at all.

Because of this, ICAO note that “it is impossible for ATC to tailor the uplink of the message… to different aircraft types. It has therefore been decided among the NAT Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) to uplink this message to all CPDLC connected aircraft immediately after they enter each control area. An aircraft may therefore receive this message multiple times during a flight.”

So here’s the lowdown on what you need to do:

1. Work out in advance what kind of message latency monitor function your aircraft has, and what it is designed to do when it receives the CPDLC message “SET MAX UPLINK TIMER VALUE TO XXX SECONDS”.

2. When you receive this message, respond with the voice message “ACCEPT” or “ROGER”. If your aircraft has a functioning message latency monitor, punch in the specified number of seconds. If you don’t have functioning equipment, respond with the free text message “TIMER NOT AVAILABLE”.

3. If anything goes wrong, revert to voice comms.

Back in November 2017, we reported on an equipment issue with Iridium satcom that prompted a ban by a number of Oceanic ATC agencies. Some aircraft were receiving massively delayed clearances sent by ATC via CPDLC – and one took the instruction and climbed 1000 feet, even though the message was meant for the flight the aircraft operated previously.

Although the bans were dropped after Iridium fixed the problem at ground level (by ensuring the system no longer queued CPDLC uplinks for more than five minutes), this new CPDLC procedure on the NAT should ensure this kind of situation doesn’t happen again. It’s officially being brought in as one of the safety requirements for the roll-out of reduced lateral and longitudinal separation minima across the NAT, which is predicated on Performance Based Communication and Surveillance (PBCS) specifications – that means having CPDLC capable of RCP240 (4 minute comms loop), and ADS-C capable of RSP180 (3 minute position reporting).

Further reading:
ICAO NAT Bulletin 2018_002: CPDLC Uplink Message Latency Monitor
Iceland’s AIC on the new CPDLC procedure for the BIRD/Reykjavik FIR
– The latest PBCS rumours and facts
The latest NAT changes, including EGGX/Shanwick, CZQX/Gander, BIRD/Iceland, ENOB/Bodo, LPPO/Santa Maria, and KZWY/New York Oceanic East.
IRIDIUM satcom fault fixed

Ramadan 2018 – country by country

In most of the world, Ramadan in 2018 is expected to begin on May 16 and end on June 14, with both dates depending on lunar sightings. Eid-al-Fitr is expected to be observed June 14-15, though the exact dates will vary by country. Across the countries which celebrate the holiday, there will be delays processing permits, slots, and other operational requirements involving CAA’s and Airport Authorities.

Foreign nationals and their employers can expect immigration processing delays over the coming weeks in the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and parts of Asia during the observance of the month of Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr. Many government offices worldwide reduce their hours and/or close during Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr.

Algeria:  The month of Ramadan is expected to begin May 16 or 17 and end June 13 or 14, depending on lunar sightings.  While public offices are not officially closed during Ramadan, most government offices will open at 10:00 a.m. and close at 3:30 p.m.  Government offices will also likely be closed on Eid-al-Fitr.  Processing delays can be expected for initial and renewal applications due to the reduced working hours.

Bangladesh:  The month of Ramadan will begin on May 15. While government offices will operate with reduced workforce during this month and until June 17, they will be closed from June 15 to 17 in observance of Eid-ul-Fitr. Processing delays of pending applications should be expected throughout the month of Ramadan.

Brunei:  The Ramadan season will begin on May 16 in Brunei. Government offices, including the Immigration Department, Labour Department and Energy Industry Department (EID) are expected to operate with reduced hours throughout the month of Ramadan. Government offices will be closed for Hari Raya Aidilfitri on June 15 to June 18, depending on lunar sighting. Processing delays are expected throughout Ramadan and may continue for up to two weeks after Ramadan ends.

Indonesia:  The month of Ramadan is expected to begin on May 17 ending with Hari Raya Idul Fitri, which will fall on June 15. Most government offices and consular posts are expected to reduce their business days by one to two hours throughout the month of Ramadan, and closures will likely occur several days before and after the Idul Fitri holiday (around June 11 to 22) due to staffing shortages. Processing delays are expected to occur during this period.

Malaysia:  The month of Ramadan will begin on May 17. Government offices, including the Immigration Department and other Work Pass adjudicating departments such as the eXpats Centre of the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation Sdn. Bhd. and MYXpats Centre of the Expatriate Services Division, are expected to operate with reduced hours throughout the month of Ramadan. Government offices will be closed for Hari Raya Aidifitri from June 15 to 17. In addition to those days, eXpats Centre will also be closed on June 14. Processing delays are expected throughout the month of Ramadan and may continue for up to three weeks after the end of Ramadan.

Middle East/North Africa (Bahrain, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates):  The month of Ramadan is expected to start May 16 or 17 and last until June 14 or 15, 2018. Government offices across the Middle East will be working reduced hours during Ramadan, which may affect processing times for all immigration applications. Foreign nationals and employers are advised to check with the relevant office for exact hours of operation. Processing delays could continue in the weeks following Ramadan due to Eid-al-Fitr holiday and application backlogs that accumulate during the closures.

Turkey: Government offices will be closed June 14 (afternoon), June 15 (full day), and potentially June 18. Processing delays can be expected for initial and renewal applications due to government office closures.

Saudi Arabia added to warning list

With a publication date of tomorrow (May 10), there is a new French AIC coming out “15/18: OVERFLIGHT OF CONFLICT ZONES“.

Of note is the new addition to the list – Saudi Arabia.

These French AIC’s use careful wording so as to completely avoid mentioning the specific threat for each country it includes in its list, but clearly in the case of Saudi Arabia, this new warning is related to the increased missile activity along the border with Yemen. The new advice to French carriers (but in reality, everyone) is:

– To exercise caution during flight operations in the airspace of Saudi Arabia (OEJD/JEDDAH FIR) and follow instructions given by the Saudi authorities providing air traffic services, particularly in the southwest of Saudi airspace in which SCATANA (Security Control of Air Traffic and Air Navigation Aids rules) may be activated by NOTAM by the Saudi authorities;

– Not to operate any flights to OEAB/Abha, OEGN/Jazan, OENG/Nejran, OESH/Sharurah, OEWD/Wadi Al Dawasir and OEBH/Bisha airports located in the southwest of the FIR – these airports should not be planned as alternates either.

The advice here is similar to the existing German Notam issued back in March, which warns against flying close to the border with Yemen, and to avoid landing at OEAB/Abha airport. The German Notam also makes a point of referencing the risk of operating to both OEJN/Jeddah and OERK/Riyadh, due to the high number of missile attacks launched against these airports from within Yemen recently.

With the overall increase in missile activity in the southwest of the country, there is now a clear risk to operations in Saudi airspace, even outside the SCATANA area. The conflict between Saudi Arabia and Yemen remains complex and volatile. Safeairspace continues to provide up-to-date information for both Saudi and Yemen airspace.

Further reading:

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