Category: Briefings (page 2 of 30)

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!

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!

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!

FAA Issues New Ukraine Advice

The U.S. FAA has partially lifted its airspace ban on Eastern Ukraine – the UKFV/Simferopol and UKDV/Dnipropetrovsk FIRs.

The new ruling means that U.S. operators are now allowed to operate on routes over certain parts of the Black Sea, and to three Ukrainian airports: UKHH/Kharkiv, UKDD/Dnipropetrovsk and UKDE/Zaporizhzhia.

According to the FAA, “security and safety conditions have sufficiently stabilized in certain regions of Ukraine, thereby reducing the area of hazard to U.S. civil aviation” in the UKFV and UKDV FIRs.

Here’s our map detailing the new rule:

click the image to open larger version!

The changes:

UKDV/Dnipropetrovsk FIR:
– Everything east of ABDAR – M853 – NIKAD – N604 – GOBUN is prohibited. Airways M853 and N604 are off-limits as well.
– Operations to Kharkiv International Airport (UKHH), Dnipropetrovsk International Airport (UKDD),  and Zaporizhzhia International Airport (UKDE) are now permitted.

UKFV/Simferopol FIR:
– Everything North/North East of SOBLO – DOLOT – SOROK – OTPOL is off-limits.
– Airways M856, M854, M860 and L851 have been approved for flights over the Black Sea.
– Airway M747 is prohibited, as it shares some of the off-limits airspace.

Here’s the Notam:

A0021/18 NOTAMN Q) KICZ/QRDLP/IV/NBO/AE/000/999/ 
A) KICZ B) 1810191127 C) 2010272359 
E) SECURITY..UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FLIGHT PROHIBITION AGAINST CERTAIN FLIGHTS IN THE SIMFEROPOL (UKFV) FLIGHT INFORMATION REGION (FIR) AND DNIPROPETROVSK (UKDV) FIR 14 CFR 91.1607 SPECIAL FEDERAL AVIATION REGULATION (SFAR) NO. 113 PROHIBITION AGAINST CERTAIN FLIGHTS IN THE SIMFEROPOL (UKFV) FLIGHT INFORMATION REGION (FIR) AND DNIPROPETROVSK (UKDV) FIR WAS PUBLISHED IN THE FEDERAL REGISTER ON 19 OCT 2018 AND WAS EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION IS PROVIDED AT: HTTPS://WWW.FAA.GOV/AIR_TRAFFIC/PUBLICATIONS/US_RESTRICTIONS/ F) SFC G) UNL

Why now?

The FAA’s previous ban, in place since April 2014, applied to all airspace in the UKFV and UKDV FIRs. There were two quite separate issues affecting the two chunks of airspace: risk from arms fire in the UKDV FIR, and disputed airspace in the UKFV FIR.

Let’s take a look at each one, with the reasons why the ban was initially imposed, and what has happened since then to convince the FAA to downgrade its warning…

UKDV/Dnipropetrovsk FIR: Risk from arms fire

The war in the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine resulted in the shoot-down of MH17 in July 2014. Multiple military aircraft were shot down in the region in the weeks leading up to that event. The airspace ban was imposed due to the clear risk of civil aircraft being targeted – or as the FAA more diplomatically puts it: “aircraft being misidentified and then intercepted or otherwise engaged”.

What’s changed?
Here’s what the FAA say:

“The anti-aircraft weapons capabilities and deployments of forces associated with the pro-Russian separatists are limited at this time to within the eastern portion of the UKDV/Dnipropetrovsk FIR. While the potential for fluctuating levels of military engagement continues along the line of control in eastern portions of the FIR, the military conflict has begun to stabilize, which reduces the risk of a larger-scale conflict that might extend into the western portion of the FIR. This results in a reduced risk to civil aviation in the western portion of the FIR.”

In other words…
The conflict has died-down, and only exists over in the east of the FIR anyway, near to the border with Russia. The risk to ops over the western part of the FIR is now sufficiently reduced so as to allow the reopening of that portion of airspace, and for flights to resume to the airports in that region (UKHH/Kharkiv, UKDD/Dnipropetrovsk and UKDE/Zaporizhzhia).

UKFV/Simferopol FIR – Disputed airspace

In March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea. The ATC Center is in Simferopol, Crimea, and is now run by Russia. Russia claims the airspace, and now publish Notams for the FIR under the code “URFV”. Ukraine refuses to recognise the change, and asks crews to talk to Ukrainian controllers in Dnipro/Odesa ACC instead of Simferopol ACC. As the FAA point out, the risk here stems from aircraft “receiving confusing and conflicting air traffic control instructions from both Ukrainian and Russian ATC” when operating over the region.

What’s changed?
Here’s what they say:

“The previous flight safety concerns for conflicting ANSP guidance for the Black Sea air routes at a distance offshore from the Peninsula within portions of the Simferopol FIR (UKFV) have been addressed by the government of Ukraine. Since the FAA extended the prohibition in SFAR No. 113, § 91.1607, in 2016, the government of Ukraine has established, via its aeronautical information publication (AIP), a restricted airspace area over the Crimean Peninsula and the adjacent territorial sea. In addition, the government of Ukraine has issued flight advisories, prohibitions and other instructions for the safe navigation of civil aircraft, which are published via NOTAMs, reclassified Ukrainian airspace in 2014… and improved safety incident reporting procedures to mitigate the risks associated with conflicting ANSP guidance from the Russian Federation over the Black Sea routes offshore from the Crimean Peninsula and over the high seas. Since these actions were implemented, there has been a decrease in safety-related hazards demonstrated by over two years of safe flight operations on the Black Sea air routes by non-U.S. civil operators. Therefore, the FAA assesses that these actions have sufficiently mitigated the hazard to civil aviation operating on the Black Sea air routes to allow U.S. civil flights to resume on those routes.”

In other words…
The Russians are still in Crimea, still claiming control of the airspace, and still confusing people. So that northern part of the FIR is therefore still out-of-bounds. But in the south, operators can safely fly over a handful of airways over the Black Sea which are controlled by Ukrainian ATC.

What are other countries saying about Ukraine?

Aside from the U.S., three other countries consistently publish airspace warnings: the UK, Germany, and France.

UK and France: both have warnings in place advising against all ops over both of these Ukrainian FIRs, with the exception of airways L851, M856, M860, and M854 in the UKFV/Simferopol FIR.

Germany: does not have any published warnings in place at all.

So for the southerly UKFV/Simferopol FIR, the change to U.S. advice is basically just mirroring what France and the UK have been saying for the past two years. But for the northerly UKDV/Dnipropetrovsk FIR, the U.S. is now the first and only country to say that a portion of the airspace is now deemed safe to operate in.

For more details on Ukraine and other airspace warnings, head to SafeAirspace.net.

For the new U.S. rule in full, click here.

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!

NAT – Choose your own Adventure

For the latest changes and updates on the North Atlantic, including our most recent Guides and Charts, use our NAT reference page at flightservicebureau.org/NAT.

The NAT used to be simple. Fill your flask, fire up the HF, align the INS and away you went.

Now, it’s a little more complicated. Basic Instruments are not enough. Use this quick and dirty guide from FSB to figure out where you are welcome on the NAT, depending on what equipment and training you have. Valid for October 15, 2018.

NAT Circle of Entry 2018

For the latest changes and updates on the North Atlantic, including our most recent Guides and Charts, use our NAT reference page at flightservicebureau.org/NAT.

Updated Oct 15, 2018: Updated RNP requirements for the PBCS Tracks, updated entry requirements for the NAT Tracks.

Confused and overwhelmed with the changes on the North Atlantic of late? Especially with PBCS, RCP240, RSP180, RLAT, RLong, and all that? Yep, us too.

So, we drew a circle. Tell us if this helps. Click on the circle to download the more detailed PDF.

Download the NAT Circle of Change 2018 PDF.

To help ease your NAT Headache further, these goodies will probably also be useful:

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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