Category: Briefings (page 2 of 28)

Santiago, Chile – Temporary Runway Changes

New NOTAMS (pretty poorly written ones – but hey that’s another topic) have been issued for SCEL/Santiago in Chile, outlining some runway configuration changes between 31 October and 20 December, 2018.

Operational Changes

  • RWY 17L/35R will be closed for heavy maintenance between 1200z-2259z (0900L-2000L) daily except during low visibility operations.  (NOTAM A3273/18)
  • New RWY 18/36 established on current Taxiway Alpha and will be used in place of 17L/35R for aircraft up to A321 size. It’s dimensions are 2280M x 36M. See updated ground chart here. (NOTAM A3262/18)
  • New RWY 18 GNSS approach established. See this chart. (NOTAM A3263/18)
  • The STARs currently used for 17L will be applicable for RWY 18. (NOTAM A3265/18)

Opsgroup members have also advised us that;

  • Due to standard late night noise restrictions, departures will be required to use 17L (not 17R).
  • Pay careful attention to the substantially different missed approach procedure for GNSS RWY 18 procedure. This has been designed differently to allow a “tighter” traffic sequence and permit simultaneous operations on 17R. This is not normally possible due to the conflicting departure and missed approach paths.

If you do get to head to Chile, grab the window seat and grab a camera! I took these last year!

It really is such a great approach!

Feel Free to use Luton at Night!

Feeling the crush of operating to London at night? We’ve got some good news for you:

?? Luton (EGGW) will be back to 24 hour operations starting October 1, 2018 ??

Luton has been closed all summer between 2200Z and 0559Z for noise abatement regulations. However, these limitations have been lifted, and all will be back to 24/7.

The nighttime noise restrictions for EGLL/Heathrow, EGKK/Gatwick, and EGSS/Stansted are still in place, making nighttime GA/BA operations to these airports limited.

Here’s a rundown of the current restrictions:

  • EGMC/Southend (40 miles away) & EGBB/Birmingham (115 miles away) are the only airports with no restrictions (thus far).
  • EGLL/Heathrow & EGGK/Gatwick: Pretty much a no-go zone for business aviation these days
  • EGLC/London City: closed from 1030pm to 0630am
  • EGWU/Northolt: closed from 8pm to 8am on weekdays
  • EGLF/Farnborough: closed from 10pm to 7am on weekdays
  • EGKB/Biggin Hill: closed from 11pm to 6.30am on weekdays, and 10pm to 8am on weekends
Extra Reading:

NTSB: Current NOTAM system is “just a bunch of garbage”

You were all very supportive when we wrote the initial article on the BS Notam problem last year, and have followed our journey in fixing the problem since then.

Big news!

The NTSB called the Notam System a bunch of garbage on Tuesday this week, and assigned probable cause of the AC759 incident in SFO to the Notams that were missed.


What this means to OpsGroup is massive fuel to our fire: we are working hard to fix this problem, and having a public facing government organisation like the NTSB come down like a ton of bricks on the Notam System drives us forward in leaps and bounds.

The group members have been decisive in helping us to identify the problem and taking action to fix this. So, we want to acknowledge all of you! Great work!

In solving two of the above five problems, we have been working with ICAO for several months now. You all got involved in Normand 17,000 Notams later, we happy to report that version 0.1 of Norm is now live on the ICAO website. Norm is a bot – an AI, that has learned what Notams look like, and thanks to OpsGroup rating these 17,000 Notams, is also learning which ones are critical and which ones are not.

He’s still young. He doesn’t get everything, but if you feed him a Notam you’ll see him assign it a criticality of 1-5.

This will in turn allow us to sort Notams, putting the most important stuff first.


Check your checklist! Lessons from fatal King Air accident in Melbourne

The pilot at the controls of a Beechcraft B200 Super King Air that crashed shortly after take off had the aircrafts rudder trim in the full left position for take off, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has found.

The ATSB final report said the aircraft’s track began diverging to the left of the runway centre line before rotation and the divergence increased as the flight progressed.

It then entered a shallow climb followed by a “substantial left sideslip with minimal roll” before beginning to descend. At this point the pilot issued a mayday call seven times in rapid succession.

Approximately 10 seconds after the aircraft became airborne, and two seconds after the transmission was completed, the aircraft collided with the roof of a building.

What Happened?

The investigation found that the pilot did not detect that the aircraft’s rudder trim was in the full nose-left position prior to takeoff.

“Prior to takeoff, there were several opportunities in the pre-flight inspection and before takeoff checklists for the pilot to set and confirm the position of the rudder trim,” the ATSB final report said.

A King Air flight simulator was used to recreate the event as part of the ATSB investigation.

The pilot who performed the flight simulator test commented that:

The yaw on take-off was manageable but at the limit of any normal control input. Should have rejected the take-off. After take-off the aircraft was manageable but challenging up to about 140 knots at which time because of aerodynamic flow around the rudder it became uncontrollable. Your leg will give out and then you will lose control. It would take an exceptional human to fly the aircraft for any length of time in this condition. The exercise was repeated 3 times with the same result each time. Bear in mind I had knowledge of the event before performing the take-offs.

The pilot also stated that it could be possible for a pilot to misinterpret the yaw as being caused by an engine power loss rather than from a mis-set rudder trim.

Safety message

Cockpit checklists are an essential tool for overcoming limitations with pilot memory, and ensuring that action items are completed in sequence and without omission. The improper or non-use of checklists has been cited as a factor in some aircraft accidents. Research has shown that this may occur for varying reasons and that experienced pilots are not immune to checklist errors.

This accident highlights the critical importance of appropriately actioning and completing checklists.

Checklist discipline

In previous correspondence between the accident pilot and the ATSB when discussing checklists, the pilot stated that:

“You don’t get complacent as a pilot but you get into a routine. The same as your pre-take-off checks, you get a routine and you don’t need to use a checklist because you are doing it every day, you are flying it every day… I take-off with one stage of flap because it gets me of the ground quicker. And I never change my routine…”

Wait what!??? It is stating the obvious but it’s a timely reminder that checklists are an essential defense against pilot errors. 

Sadly, it could have been a life-saver in this instance.

The ATSB video to supplement the report.

Why are we still flying airline passengers over war zones?

Here’s the level of inconsistency we’ve reached in international air transport: we take each passenger, scrutinize their booking, check the no-fly-list, watch them on CCTV, pull them apart at TSA, remove anything sharper than a pen, question them, x-ray the bags, run Explosive Trace Detection tests, screen the hold baggage, background check every member of the crew, and then, once they’ve all boarded, fly this ultra-secure airplane straight into a war zone.

Welcome to the Eastern Mediterranean. It’s an active conflict zone. The Russian naval build up there this month is the largest since Moscow’s intervention in Syria began in 2015. Over Syria, 9 aircraft have been shot down this year.

The most recent was on Monday night this week, when Syria came under attack from Israel fighter jets, and started firing indiscriminately at anything off the coast that looked like a threat. They wanted to shoot something down, and they did — except it was a friend, not foe. They took out a Russian Ilyushin IL-20M transport category airplane. Even on the worst radar, that doesn’t look anything like an Israeli F-16.

50 miles away from where the Russian aircraft plunged into the sea on Monday night is the international airway UL620, busy with all the big name airline traffic heading for Beirut and Tel Aviv. If Syria can mistakenly shoot down a Russian ally aircraft, they can also take out your A320 as you cruise past.

And yet, most airlines continue to operate. Are we really so comfortable with operating in conflict zones again?

The lessons of MH17 seem to be fading fast. It’s a little over four years since 298 people lost their lives over Ukraine one summer afternoon, thanks to an errant missile fired during a civil war at an aircraft that they thought was a military threat. “Why were they over a war zone”, everyone cried afterwards.

Well, we all were. Me too. I was a pilot for Austrian Airlines at the time. I recall one morning in Vienna, some months before MH17. Boarding the last of the passengers, my BBC news app flashed up a story about a helicopter being shot down in eastern Ukraine .

As we were headed east, with my colleague in the cockpit, we quickly plotted the position on our enroute chart, and noted that it was really close to our route. Maybe 30 miles north. “We might see something interesting!”, we said, and pushed back. We didn’t, nor did we think much more about it.

Do you see the thought process though? Before MH17, we didn’t consider the risks to our aircraft from war zones. Especially being so high. Helicopters might be getting shot down, but we’re at 35,000 feet. No problem.

This is why all of these airlines — mine, at the time, included — operated on the route.

Image: Der Spiegel

And then it happened, and none of us could quite believe it.

But we learned. “Conflict Zone” became a buzzword. We had task forces and committees, whitepapers and promises, and — myself included — talked at length about how this happened, why, and how to avoid it in the future.

And yet, here we are flying unsuspecting passengers along the Syrian border. If you’re unsuspecting enough, and buy a SkyTeam codeshare ticket — you’ll actually overfly Syria on the Honey Badger airline of the region, Middle East Airlines.

Here we are flying passengers in the Eastern Mediterranean war zone. Why is this happening?

My guess: because we don’t think anything bad is going to happen, because the airspace boundary lines on the charts make that little bit of sea near Cyprus feel different from that little bit of sea near Syria, but mainly because there is no clear guidance from Aviation Authorities.

Let’s start with Cyprus. The Nicosia FIR has a big chunk of unsafe airspace. The Russian aircraft on Monday was shot down on the Nicosia FIR boundary. What do the Notams say? Take a look. There are 97 of them. Mostly about fireworks at local hotels. Critical stuff indeed. Then there are 20 or 30 about “Russian naval exercises”. A clue, perhaps, but where is the black and white “An Aircraft was Shot Down on our Border on Monday?” . Or, since we are still using teletype to communicate Notams to crews, “AN AIRCRAFT WAS SHOT DOWN ON OUR BORDER ON MONDAY”. Wait, we have to abbreviate that, and use codes, for some reason. “ACFT SHOT DOWN ON FIR BDY 17SEP”. That’s better.

What about Turkey? Anything on the Eastern Mediterranean risk? Let’s have a look. Nope, just 132 Bullshit Notams, and something about an AWACS aircraft. See you back here in 30 minutes when you’ve read them all.

Remember, I’m being a pilot, an airline, a dispatcher, trying to find information on the Risk in the Eastern Mediterranean. And this is how hard it is.

EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency), how are you doing? Let’s start here, at the “Information on Conflict Zones”. Paragraph 2 tells us that ICAO have a Central Repository on Conflict Zones, launched in 2015.

No, they don’t. That died — quite a long time ago. This is where it used to live. So, there is no ICAO Central Repository on Conflict Zones. There is a new ICAO document with guidance on managing Conflict Zone risk (and it’s a bloody good one, too) — but where is the picture of current risk?

Let’s plough on through the EASA site. Aha! Seems we have a Conflict Zone alerting system, and Conflict Zone bulletins. Here they all are:

The last one on Syria was issued on April 17th. But it seems to be just a list of Notams issued by other states. And these are out of date. The German Notam has expired, the French AIC has been replaced.

And there’s no guidance. No Map. No routes to avoid. Nothing about Cyprus, or Beirut. No mention of the Russian shootdown. No mention of the 9 aircraft shot down this year.

How am I supposed to know, as an operator, or pilot, what the risks are and where to avoid. We’re getting closer to the point here. You’re not supposed to rely on the Aviation Authority. That is their message. You must conduct your own risk assessment. You must research and find out about the risks yourself.

You are on your own.

If you’re a big airline, that’s probably fine. You’ll make your own decisions about where to fly, anyhow. But what about everybody else?

While OpsGroup works hard to get information out to our members — and we spend a lot of time researching risk — I would greatly prefer that we didn’t have to.

Aviation Authorities must issue better guidance for the aircraft entering their areas.

Let me remind you. Airlines are operating 50 miles from a position where an airplane was shot down at night, by a missile type that’s already taken out a passenger airliner by mistake, fired by a beleaguered Syrian defence post, at a friendly aircraft that they did not take time to identify.

And the guidance to operators from Authorities: NIL.



Opsgroup has now published Note 31: Airspace Risk in the Eastern Mediterranean. There is a clear risk to civil aircraft operating on airways UL620, UW74, UR18, and UP62. In simple terms, if you find yourself planned overwater east of Cyprus, reconsider your route.

Further reading:

New rules at Russian airports to combat cabotage abuse

There’s a new Customs restriction in place, reported at bothULLI/St Petersburg and UUWW/Moscow Vnukovo airports. The standard block of text doing the rounds is as follows:


There are two important points here:

  1. Once you have completed the customs declaration and it was for an international destination from ULLI/UUWW, you can’t change it to a domestic one; also if there was domestic destination after ULLI/UUWW you can’t change it to a different domestic airport; but changing the destination to a non-Russian airport is still allowed (i.e. LSZH instead of URSS).
  2. ‘EACU Territory’ means the Euroasian Customs Union countries – that’s Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan. Watch out if you’re planning on flying between ULLI and any these other countries, as Customs may now consider it to be a domestic flight!

Local handlers have confirmed these new restrictions have been brought in to try to combat abuse of cabotage rules by some operators.

Russian cabotage rules are complicated. Their AIP GEN attempts to define it, in language typical of AIPs the world over, as follows:

Foreign air transport enterprises, international operating agencies and foreign individual enterprises have no right to take passengers, baggage, cargo and mail aboard on the territory of the Russian Federation for air transportation within the territory of the Russian Federation without permit from the Federal Air Transport Agency issued in accordance with procedure established by the Government of the Russian Federation.


So the wording above basically translates to a fairly standard definition of cabotage which we’re probably all familiar with: foreign aircraft are not allowed to carry passengers domestically inside our country. Fair enough.


In reality, the basic rule is not strictly enforced. The unofficial position of the Russian Customs Service is that a single domestic flight will be permitted as long as it’s part of an international roundtrip of the same passengers.


We checked with the authorities, and in practice, the whole “as long as it’s part of an international trip” thing doesn’t actually have to be strictly followed either. Domestic flights with passengers onboard are permitted as long as those passengers either fly in to Russia on that aircraft, or fly out of Russia on that aircraft.

For example, both of the following trips would be allowed (as long as the passengers onboard are the same actual people):

LSZH-UUWW (0 pax)
UUWW-URSS (2 pax)
URSS-LSZH (2 pax)

LSZH-UUWW (2 pax)
UUWW-URSS (2 pax)
URSS-LSZH (0 pax)


Not content with the significant amount of rule-bendery already available, there are plenty of reports out there where none of the above is adhered to whatsoever – where operators do multiple domestic legs, or change the passengers onboard on different legs, or declare charter flights as private to avoid the cabotage rules altogether. Much seems to depend on which particular airports you’re flying to/from, who your handler is, who your VIP on board is, and who makes the phone calls behind the scenes!

As Derek A. Bloom says in his article on ‘Avoiding the Substantial Legal Risks Involved in Grey Cabotage Flights in Russia’ – “For the last several years, it is an open secret that there are a very substantial number of illegal cabotage flights in Russia of chartered corporate aircraft. False customs filings are regularly made indicating that foreign-registered aircraft are being flown in Russia for private, and not for commercial purposes, and even that the owner of the aircraft is actually on board the aircraft when he is not.”

But with the new rules imposed this week, the authorities seem to be fighting back. Currently, we only have information that this is being applied at ULLI and UUWW, but if you know of any other locations, or have any other information, please let us know!

Further reading

Milan Linate closed next summer

With planned runway and terminal constructions, LIML/Milan Linate will be closing from July 27, 2019 until October 27, 2019.  Work has already begun with Assoclearance (slot coordination) to work out summer schedules.

Today, September 20, a coordination meeting will take place to clarify the slot allocation process for S19. Following this, a September 25th meeting at Linate will be held to discuss the operational impact of the closure.

Milan Linate handled over nine million passengers in 2017, so a large portion of this traffic will now have to operate through LIMC/Milan Malpensa, which already stands as the second busiest airport in Italy, handling over 22 million passengers in 2017.

We’ll have more information after both the slot and operations meetings this coming week.

Do you know more? Feel free to comment or drop us a line!

Hurricane Florence: Latest Airport closures and Operational impact

Latest update: 1900z, Sept 17th.

Most airports have reopened, with the exception of KILM and KOAJ (see below).

The National Weather Service have warned – “Florence is forecast to bring a large area of rainfall of 20-40 inches to parts of NC/SC. We cannot overstate the threat of catastrophic flooding this storm will bring!”

Severe disruption is expected across the entire region spanning from KSAV/Savannah in the south up to KRIC/Richmond in the north, with multiple airport closures planned.

As of 1900z on Sep 17th, the situation is as follows:

    Airport is open and operational.
    Airport is open and operational.
    Airport is open and operational.
    The airport is open, but it’s not recommended to operate, no power, no ILS, no tower. One runway is open for rotor aircraft.
    Airport is open and operational.
    Airport is open and operational, some equipment outages, keep an eye on Notams.
    Airport is open and operational.
    Airport is open and operational.
  • NORFOLK, VIRGINIA (KORF) @NorfolkAirport
    Airport is open and operational.
    Airport is open and operational.
    Airport is open and operational.
    Airport is open and operational.
  • LYNCHBURG, VIRGINIA (KLYH) @lynchburggov
    Airport is open and operational.
    Airport is open and operational.
    Airport is open and operational.
    Airport is open and operational.
    Airport is open and operational.
    Airport is open and operational.
    The airport is closed – scheduled to reopen Sept 18, accepting military and rescue flights.
    Airport is open and operational.

Do you know more and can add to this list? Let us know!


Extra Reading:

  • Google Crisis Map
  • You can view the latest projections and forecast maps with the NOAA here.
  • You can view the latest information from the FAA here. The latest flight delay information is here

Paris Le Bourget – New Requirement to list parking in Flight Plan

In the recent France AIP August update a new requirement was added for all aircraft inbound to LFPB/Paris Le Bourget to list their parking position and handler on Field 18 of their flight plan.

Mentioned twice in the local traffic regulations (the translation is a little iffy but you get the idea):

Mandatory assistance by approved based companies. The name of the assistant society must be stated in field 18 of the FPL as a remark (RMK).


It is required to the crews to indicate in field 18 of the flight plan, the traffic area of destination and the name of the handling provider.

We understand that this came about due to “much confusion” of the parking stand locations after aircraft land.

Remark 18 should include

  1. Handler Name
  2. Your parking stand location (e.g. HANDLER ABC T1 APRON FOXTROT 2)
    • For heavy aircraft (A330/A340/A350/B747/B787/B767/C130) apron Golf, Sierra or Foxtrot 3 will suffice. Your local handler should give you confirmation ahead of your expected flight.
  3. Your handlers phone number.

So it should look something like this:







Do you know more? Feel free to comment or drop us a line!

Also- here is a video of a Beech Bonanza flying under the Eiffel Tower 

OPSGROUP featured on Al Jazeera

As a group of 4000 pilots, dispatchers, and controllers, we stand for safety ahead of commerce. Al Jazeera interviewed our founder, Mark Zee, about the current risk in Ethiopian airspace created by the ATC strike, and why we care so much about getting the truth out to our members.


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