Category: News Item (page 2 of 20)

US issues new guidance on Iran overflight risk

The FAA has published new guidance today on overflight risk for Iran, and the Tehran FIR (OIIX). The relationship between the US and Iran has soured in the past twelve months, since the last KICZ Notam and guidance was published. In May, when President Trump announced the withdrawal from the Nuclear deal, the Iranian parliament burned the US flag and shouted “Death to America”.

Without seeming alarmist, this relationship must be taken into account when planning flights through the Tehran FIR. Although the reopening of Iraqi airspace in November last year has provided additional routing options, our recent article London – Dubai, which way is best? shows that there is no perfect route in the region, and operators must consider their preference for Iraq vs Iran.

A new Notam for Iran, KICZ 16/2018 was published today, and contains new wording, rather than being an extension of the previous. The key message of the Notam is : “Exercise caution when flying into the Tehran FIR“.

In addition, new background guidance has been published in conjunction with the Notam, and these are the key new items:

  • There is concern for heightened Iranian air defense sensitivity and exercises as a result of regional instability and/or political tensions. Heightened Iranian air defense sensitivity may create an inadvertent risk to U.S. civil aviation operating in the Tehran FIR (OIIX)
  • A U.S. civil operator experienced a fighter intercept in the Tehran FIR (OIIX) in December 2017
  • There is the potential for Iranian surface-to-surface missile fire from western Iran, targeting Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) positions located in the region (such as occurred in June 2017)
  • There is an inadvertent risk to U.S. civil aviation operations in the Tehran FIR (OIIX) from Iranian-fielded GPS jammers

We would add that if planning an overflight of the Tehran FIR, consider the risk from an unplanned landing – decompression, medical, engine fire – which may force you into Tehran or another airport – it’s a big chunk of airspace. The US State Dept currently advises: Do not travel to Iran due to the risk of arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens.

As always, we’d like to hear your thoughts and comments on this new information, overflying Iran, and Middle East risk in general. Comment below, or mail our team at comments@ops.group.

References

FAA Notam KICZ 16/2018 published Sep 9, 2018
FAA Background Notice on Tehran FIR published Sep 9, 2018
FAA Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices (not yet updated)

 

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).

and

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:

(FPL-FGTRY-IG

-C525/L-SDFGRWY/S

-LFMD0610

-N0360F340 OKTET UM733 GIPNO UT26 LOGNI UN854 DJL

-LFPB0120 LFPN

-PBN/A1B2D2S1 DOF/180903 IFP/MODESASP ORGN/KBLIHAEX RMK/HANDLER ABC TERMINAL 1 APRON FOXTROT 2 TEL : +3312345678)

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 

ATC Strike over, but nine Ethiopian Air Traffic Controllers remain in jail

5th September, update:

As of this morning, most controllers have returned to work. Some concessions made by ECAA. Addis ACC and TWR are again staffed with qualified controllers, so the safety situation, for now, is restored. However, 9 remain in jail. Returning controllers were forced to sign an ‘admission’ of illegal strike action in return for amnesty. IATA In Flight Broadcast Procedure requirement for Addis FIR remains in place, meaning you must broadcast on 126.9 as in other areas of concern in Africa. Further as we get it.

 

4th September:

Last week we were one of the first to expose the attempted ATC Strike cover up by the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority.

As a reminder, untrained and uncertified foreign controllers, retired and local non-operational ATC personnel are being used to control air traffic over Ethiopia. 

It is a catastrophic misjudgement, creating a safety risk in the Addis FIR and at Ethiopian Airports for pilots and passengers alike.

Here are some more updates since our last article:

  • On August 29, The International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Association (IFATCA) penned a letter to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia. You can read it here.
  • The neighbouring controllers in Kenya warned that flights in and out of Addis Ababa are not safe. You can view their letter here – specifically they warned that the ‘possibility of air misses’ is real.
  • The ECAA over the weekend rejected concerns regarding the safety of Ethiopian airspace, specifically calling the claims from Kenya as “outright lies.”  The ECAA has said that ATC are operating “in accordance with ICAO Annex 1 provisions.” They did not deny however that foreign and retired ATC are being used.
  • The ECAA also outlined that the national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, has “awarded” veteran Air Traffic Controllers,  who are performing their national obligation.
  • However on Monday, the local state affiliated broadcaster, Fana BC, reported that the Federal Police Commission had detained nine individuals on suspicion of attempting to disrupt international flights and coordinating a strike that began last week. This has been quickly condemned on social media, as many locals called on the government to resolve the issues raised by the ATCs rather than resorting to intimidation.

The ECAA claims that “some” of the striking controllers have returned to work.

Major airlines and uninformed passengers continue to fly into and over Ethiopia and this continues to be a major safety risk.

Do you have more to add this story?  Please, let us know!

Beijing Airport Restrictions until September 6

Beijing is hosting the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) on September 3 and 4, 2018.

As a result ZBAA/Beijing Capital airport will not allow any GA/Corporate Jet operations from Thursday, August 30 until Thursday, September 6 unless you are attending the forum itself. If you are, you will require a a sponsor letter from the organizing committee to obtain landing permission.

Further restrictions:

  • There will be no take-off for all flights between 0700-0855L, strictly landing only.
  • A maximum of two movements are allowed per hour for all flights between 0600-2355L.
  • Governmental flights require an authorization letter from the respective Embassy to arrange handling services.
  • Flights with diplomatic clearance can still operate to ZBAA even if they are not attending the forum.
  • ZBAA cannot be used as an alternate (except in an emergency) until 6 September (Refer NOTAM E1870/18).

Operators are advised to consider ZBSJ/Shijiazhuang Zhengding airport (139nm away) and ZBTJ/Tianjin Binhai airport (67nm away) as alternative destinations during this time period.

Do you know more? Let us know!

Ethiopia risking flight safety to cover up ATC strike

  • Ethiopian ATC on strike, no Notams, government hush up
  • OPSGROUP alert for the  Addis Ababa FIR
  • Airspace risk – unrated controllers, some foreign and unfamiliar


Air Traffic Controllers are on strike in Ethiopia
, and Ethiopia would prefer that you don’t know this. We, as OpsGroup, would prefer that you do.

Ethiopia would also prefer that it has no impact on the flight operations of its national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines. Therefore, they have drafted in foreign controllers to replace the strikers, issued no Notams, hushed any publicity, and proactively declared ‘operations normal’ (complete with bizarre, hand drawn airplanes).

European airlines – and frustrated passengers – will watch with great interest, thanks to their own ATC strike woes: regular stoppages by French, Italian, and Greek controllers have this summer, once again, been the source of massive cancellations, reroutes, and delays. Has Ethiopia found the golden elixir, the magic solution to a long-running problem? Is this how to handle a strike by your nations’ Air Traffic Controllers?

It absolutely is not. It is a catastrophic misjudgement, creating a safety risk in the Addis FIR and at Ethiopian Airports for pilots and passengers alike. Ethiopian airspace, this week, is most definitely not ‘operations normal’ – it is unpredictable and unsafe, staffed by unrated, inexperienced controllers, many from abroad – evidenced already by alarming reports of close calls from adjacent Area Control Centers – read on.

The facts are this: faced with an upcoming strike by ATC, Ethiopian Airlines – now Africa’s largest airline –  formed what in the boardroom might have seemed a workable plan: Recruit a bunch of controllers from other countries, fly them in to Addis, and have them do the work of the striking staff.

The first batch of foreign controllers came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a small group described by the local controllers, unsurprisingly, as mercenaries. When the strike started at 7am this past Monday morning, they were ready to go. Not content with stopping there, the requests from ECAA – the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority – for more external controllers went out thick and fast, like an Ambien fuelled shopping spree on Amazon. 30 requested from Sudan, 24 from Kenya. More from Zimbabwe, Malawi. Finding those requests rejected, and resistance from other ATC agencies, the biggest request yet: 120 controllers from ASECNA.

The plan, commercially, is understandable. The wish to keep their airplanes flying is not endemic to Ethiopian Airlines. British Airways, Ryanair and Easyjet, have all made very public their frustrations with ATC strikes. An association, A4E, was formed to fight the problem at European level.

But here’s why the Ethiopian solution doesn’t work.

And as a former Air Traffic Controller, and Airline Pilot, I can tell you why.

Air Traffic Control is complex. That’s not a secret. On average, it takes a controller three months to gain a ‘rating’, or qualification, for a specific piece of airspace; that’s how long it takes to become comfortable with the 4D picture in front of you to provide a flawless ATC service. More complex airspace could take six months.

You have to learn each corner of your bit of sky. Learn the rules of the sector, learn the agreements you have with other centres about how you will receive and present traffic at the boundary. But the most important thing you learn is how the traffic flows.

ATC is not an aerial traffic battle whose landscape changes each day. It is not a web of complex contrails that, seen from the ground, appear to merge and diverge at random. The traffic flow is a largely predictable set of events, where the same airlines are operating on the same routes – providing a basis for us, as controllers, to learn the patterns of the flow, and to learn a trick for every trajectory.

This is key. It’s been 15 years since I worked the North Atlantic flow in Shannon, but I remember the callsigns, the flows, and how to handle them, like an indelible challenge and response game in my mind.

Shamrock 37J, airborne Shannon” : “direct to Strumble, climb him to 270”.
“Belfast departure for Tenerife” : “stop him low, get him under the NAT traffic”.
“Two converging at LIFFY” : “Drop the Speedbird, he’s for Manchester”.

Humans learn patterns. This is how ATC works. We fill a bucket full of “stuff we’ve seen before”, leaving us free to concentrate on the few things we haven’t. This is the flow. If you watch 737’s fly up the Hudson on a hot summer morning, this is the La Guardia flow. Not an inch left or right. Heading into Amsterdam? “Direct to Pampus, down to FL70”.  One after another.

This is why we need three months to learn the airspace. For the flow. And this is why, when I found myself in New Zealand, learning to operate as an Air Traffic Controller far away from Shannon, I was floundering, like one of those dreams where you running but standing still. I am a controller, but I can’t control. I don’t know the airspace, and I don’t know the flow. Slowly, over the months, geography takes shape, traffic patterns show themselves, situations become seen. I start to get a sense of distance and time on my scope – or scopes, because New Zealand is long and thin I have to reorientate my thinking north-south, rather than east-west, as in Shannon. Out of the mist of training, I am a controller again, but it takes time. A lot of time.

Ultimately, I can reach the point where I can do my job – the real job of an Air Traffic Controller – to be familiar enough with the airspace and traffic that I have “the picture”. The full situational awareness, with most climbs, descents, speeds, and vectors being routine and familiar, means I can spot the something that’s off, wrong, going to develop into a conflict, and do so intuitively, like a sixth sense. Air Traffic Control is an art, it’s a dance. You don’t do it by complex calculations in your head, you don’t need a computer. It’s the visual in front of you – radar or tower – coming to life in your brain, you feel it, and the solution becomes instinctive.

And this is why you can’t bus in a set of replacement controllers, shuffle them down the corridor into the radar room, and up the stairs to the tower, and expect a safe, efficient, and orderly flow of traffic.

Controllers know the power of the strike. In most countries, it is used rarely, and fairly. They understand the impact on airlines and passengers. There are many other forms of industrial action a controller can take – like a training ban, an overtime ban – before reaching the point of actually stopping work.

Commerce will always find a way to continue. Safety is different, and delicate. It must be nurtured and protected. When the two collide head on – the commerce of keeping an airline flying, vs. the safety of an established, effective Air Traffic Control system – safety must take precedence. Here, safety means accepting the strike, as is – and working with the controllers, quickly, to find a solution. Let them be heard.

 

We’ll keep this page updated with the latest situation on the Ethiopian ATC strike. Reports that we have received so far are as follows:

  • Controllers in adjacent ACC’s are reporting lack of adherence to Letters of Agreement – seeing aircraft with 4 minutes instead of 10 minutes separation.
  • RA reported by Kenya ATC between two airlines on Wednesday.
  • Kenya and Sudan reported loss of separation and poor coordination and transfer of traffic at their FIR boundaries with Ethiopia.
  • Retired and Management controllers, who appear to have never rated or validated in position, are also being used, though unqualified for Addis.

We were first alerted to this issue by a Fox. Many of you know that we are Fixing Notams. The lack of Notams in this situation, is an exceptionally clear example of point 1 in the “Why” of the Notam Problem. Sometimes, we can’t trust the state to tell the truth. And this is a clear example.

Thankfully, our network of Foxes – undercover ATCO’s, pilots, and dispatchers –  is growing, and reporting on things just like this, so that we can tell you what’s really going on. Keep reporting.

Further reading

  • Tell us anything additional we should know – news@ops.group
  • Monitor #ops-alerts in your member Dashboard, and Slack.
  • Contact the author: Mark Zee.

 

Malaysia’s KLIA airport shutdown is excessive

In Short: Operations at WMKK/Kuala Lumpur International Airport have been suspended from 0900L-1030L every day this week (27-31 August). This is to make way for the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) to conduct rehearsals for an aerial flypast that will be part of Malaysia’s National Day parade.

As we outlined in our daily brief, WMKK/Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is being shutdown this week for 90 minutes everyday, between 9am and 10:30am to allow fly-over “rehearsals” for the National Day parade.

We think this is excessive.

The shutdown of a major international gateway airport (the 23rd busiest airport in the world) for 7 and half hours in one week will impact over 498 flight operations and thousands of passengers.

The NOTAM says it all.

A2434/18 - ALL ARR AND DEP SUSPENDED DUE TO NATIONAL DAY 2018 REHEASALS AND 
ACTUAL FLYING DISPLAYS. 0100-0230, 27 AUG 01:00 2018 UNTIL
31 AUG 02:30 2018. CREATED: 13 AUG 07:13 2018

The central planning committee of the National Day event said:

“The air space closure is necessary to ensure the smoothness of the 2018 National day flypast practice sessions, but more importantly, the safety of aircraft flying in and out of KLIA.”

We are all about safety here. But to shutdown such a big chunk of airspace and totally suspended flying operations at 9am at such a big airport for a whole week seems particularly extreme.  This is not a small isolated airport, this is a large 3 runway complex with A380’s coming and going.

This isn’t the first time such a move has happened here. In September 2016, the airport was closed for several hours a day to conduct an “aerial survey”.

This time, we understand, there was limited to no industry consultation with the onus being on the airlines and operators to notify affected customers.

Malaysia’s Transport Minister simple asked that “I hope all airlines will notify their passengers about this and reschedule their flights.” 

He finished by saying “this was inevitable as we are celebrating our Independence Day”.

We say no– shutting down a major airport for nearly 7 hours to practise some flying displays is not “inevitable“.

What do you think? Do you know more, please let us know!

 

If you need to get into KL during these times, WMSA/SULTAN ABDUL AZIZ SHAH INTL is a good alternative.

Extra Reading:

The diversion dilemma over London

A few months back an Air Canada A330 suffered a hydraulic failure as it started it’s Atlantic crossing from France to Canada. The crew decided to turn back and wanted to divert to EGLL/London Heathrow – this was denied.

Since then, other reports have been received of other aircraft requesting similar non-emergency diversions over the UK and them being denied. We understand the “non-acceptance of diverts” policy is in place for EGGW/Luton, EGSS/Stansted and even as far away as EGHH/Bournemouth. It is important to note however that if you declare an emergency (PAN/MAYDAY) – then all bets are off and you can divert wherever you like.

This week we saw EGGW/Luton go as far as publishing a NOTAM to that effect.

A2663/18 – DIVERTS SHALL ONLY BE ACCEPTED FOR ACFT THAT HAVE DECLARED AN  EMERGENCY.

So what’s going on?

We understand it’s a mix of things.

  1. With the heavy summer traffic situation all across London (which is being compounded by the various curfew and overnight flight limitations) it seems that the major airports don’t want an aircraft landing and disabling their runway.
  2. We have heard specific concerns stating that there is nowhere to park overflow aircraft. One aircraft might be manageable but multiple during peak disruption maybe not so easy.
  3. Some Opsgroup members have reported that the main driver of this policy at EGGW/Luton and EGSS/Stansted may be down to ‘their fear of adverse publicity on social media’ regarding aircraft sitting there waiting to go somewhere else and passengers tweeting away the problems with the airport and its facilities.
  4. Luton also put forward the argument that they do not want to interrupt the home-based operators by allowing other operators in. However, at the same time they are automatically denying home-based operators a diversion unless you declare an emergency.
  5. Border Control has also bought into the argument, especially at EGSS/Stansted, saying their manning levels can’t cope with an influx of extra passengers at short notice.

There are a whole host of other factors at play which make diversions in the London area a headache, particularly at night time. Opsgroup member Diego Magrini from Jet Concierge Club sums it up nicely:

“Minor airports close early in the evening, for example EGSC/Cambridge, EGTK/Oxford, EGLF/Farnborough, EGWU/Northolt. These would all be very good alternatives, but become unavailable pretty early. Let’s be honest: no business jet want to divert to EGLL/Heathrow or EGKK/Gatwick (costs, slots, friendliness, etc), and most cannot go to EGLC/London City due to training and approval. This is of course on top of Heathrow and Gatwick not accepting diversions most of the time, or not having slots available. Some airports outside London, although open and accepting traffic, do not have an FBO presence during the night, and this cannot be arranged at short notice for a diversion. Combining all of this in the very short timeframe of a diversion can be very tricky!”


There is a cool video that shows just how busy London does get on any given day….

If you have any further knowledge or recent experience to share, please let us know!

Extra Reading

Hurricane in the fast Lane for Hawaii

Overnight, the brewing tropical cyclone in the Pacific was upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane, and is anticipated to be a Category 5 when it reaches Hawaii.

Hurricane “Lane” is only the sixth recorded Category 5 hurricane in this part of the Pacific Ocean, and the National Weather Service is predicting that this storm is only going to intensify. This is also the nearest to Hawaii that a storm of this size has occurred, so the state has issued numerous emergency proclamations to better prepare for the potential life-threatening flash floods and storm surges that accompany a storm of this size.

This storm, if it proceeds as forecast, will impact operations into all Hawaiian airports, including PHNL/Honolulu  and PHOG/Kahului. Beyond the daily flight traffic to these two airports, they also act as major ETOPS/EDTO alternates for flights across the Central and Southern Pacific. So expect an impact in routing.

Also, post storm, there may be infrastructure damage that may limit operations for a period of time.

You can find the latest from the NOAA here.

We will update you with the latest flight operations developments as they happen.

Don’t alpaca your bags for Lima – tech stops forbidden!

What the expanded airport should have looked like in 2018.

For 10 years SPJC/Lima’s Jorge Chavez airport has been desperately waiting for a promised US$1.5bn expansion.

With the rapid growth in the airline industry in Peru over the past few years, it seems the airport authorities are starting to struggle to provide enough capacity, and they are now trying to make it as difficult as possible for anything other than the commercial airlines to operate there!

In a very recent AIC (10/18), notice has been given that effective August 15, 2018, no more technical stops will be permitted at the airport. It also outlines significant slot/time restrictions for GA/BA operations.

Why they are doing it?

According to the AIC:

“In order to optimize the use of airport resources, ensure the safe provision of air traffic services and ensure the balance between demand and available capacity, the DGAC has been implementing capacity management measures.”

You can find the full information here but we have listed the main operational details below.

  • Tech stops are “forbidden” for “commercial flights and general, national and international aviation” effective 15 August 18.
  • Maximum stay of 2 hours on the civil apron for GA/BA flights. This is counted “from the time of placing chocks.” After two hours, the aircraft must be transferred to another apron, parking area for aircraft or hangar, or must go to a suitable alternate airport. The recommended airport to re-position to is SPSO/Pisco. It has an ILS and a 9900’/3000m runway. It is 115nm away, and open H24.
  • General aviation flights are limited to two operating periods every day. “Flights must perform their take-off and landing” between 0500UTC-0930UTC [0000L-0430L] or from 1800UTC-2359UTC [1300L-1859L]. It’s also noted that the 2-hour maximum ground time still applies, and coordination of ground services should be pre-planned in advance to comply.

The NOTAM also points to the updated information.

A3397/18 - NEW SPECIAL PROVISIONS IN JORGE CHAVEZ INTL AIRPORT IN SERVICE REGARDING WITH: TURN AROUND TIME, TECHNICAL STOPS, AND HOURS OF
OPERATION FOR COMMERCIAL (SCHEDULE AND NON SCHEDULE) AND GENERAL AVIATION FLIGHTS. SEE AIC 10/18 PUBLISHED IN WWW.CORPAC.GOB.PE. 
09 AUG 19:59 2018 UNTIL 07 NOV 23:59 2018. 
CREATED: 09 AUG 20:02 2018

The authorities seem intent on enforcing these rules. One local handler has told us – “The Peruvian FAA is being very strict with the AIC. They are rejecting landing permit requests for fuel stops at SPJC.”

If you have any further knowledge or recent experience to share, please let us know!

Extra Reading:

Attention Shanghai: Typhoon inbound, jets must move out

Typhoon Rumbia is expected to make landfall just south of Shanghai early on Aug 17, with gusting winds of up to 55kts.

Just as before with Typhoons Ampil and Jongdari which hit Shanghai earlier this month, both Shanghai airports ZSPD/Pudong and ZSSS/Hongqiao now have restrictions in place for GA/BA flights. They are advising the following:

  1. All GA/BA aircraft currently parked at the airports must either go in the hangar or leave before 1000 local time on Aug 16.
  2. All landing and parking requests of GA/BA aircraft are unlikely to be accepted until 1200 local time on Aug 18, by which time the storm is expected to have passed.
  3. Operators should report outbound schedules of GA/BA aircraft currently parked at the airports as soon as possible.

Best to get in touch with your handler if you haven’t already.

And if you are in the region and have more information to share, let us know!

Extra Information and latest warning texts and graphics:

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