Here is an update on what has been happening in Northern Ethiopia recently, and the impact to the risk picture for aircraft operating in the HAAA/Addis FIR.
Update – July 26, 2022:
There has been no major fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region since late Dec 2021. A ceasefire agreed in March 2022 has mostly been upheld, and Ethiopia’s federal and Tigray regional governments look set for negotiations soon.
For the time being though, airspace in the north of the country should still be avoided – several states maintain active airspace warnings for the HAAA/Addis FIR, and Ethiopia still have a Notam in place banning all flights at FL290 and below.
Here’s the current version of the Notam, the content of which hasn’t changed since its first iteration:
HAAA A0222/21 - FLIGHT IS PROHIBITED TO FLY AT OR BELOW FL290 WITHIN MEKELE TMA AND WITHIN THE AIRSPACE DEFINED BY JOINING THE FOLLOWING SUCCESSIVE POINTS AND LINES 135914.7N 0362048.9E 130042.8N 0365122.9E ETOBU(132132N 0373433E) TILUD(134116N 0375950E) EVITO(142911N 0382424E) THE COMMON FIR BOUNDARY BETWEEN ADDIS AND ASMARA AND THE COMMON FIR BOUNDARY BETWEEN ADDIS AND KHARTOUM REF AIP SUP A 04/2021. GND - FL290, 27 MAY 09:00 2022 UNTIL 27 AUG 09:00 2022. CREATED: 26 MAY 06:45 2022
Better yet, here’s a picture of what this actually looks like:
Update – Nov 18, 2021:
- The US published a new airspace warning and Background Information Note for Ethiopia, cautioning against overflights of the HAAA/Addis Ababa FIR below FL290. The conflict between the Ethiopian military and opposition forces had intensified. Aircraft below FL290 were at increased risk from anti-aircraft fire.
- The US, the UK, Germany and France all issued security warnings advising their citizens to leave immediately.
Update – Nov 9, 2021:
- Ethiopia is on the verge of civil war. The government declared a six-month nationwide state of emergency on Nov 2, following increased fighting between the Ethiopian military and opposition forces in the Tigray region in the north of the country.
- Concern that ATC services in the HAAA/Addis FIR may be affected with little notice. Overflights of Ethiopia may be at increased risk of anti-aircraft fire at all levels.
- Several factors impacting risk to overflights: military aircraft being used in combat roles, unmanned aircraft operating in region, unstable political situation on the ground, and conflict spilling over into adjacent regions. All of this pointed to an increased risk of misidentification and miscalculation – aircraft mistaken for something of military interest, or simply caught in the crossfire.
- Opposition forces in Tigray have access to conventional surface-to-air missile systems that can reach aircraft as high as FL260. They have also previously shown an intent to target aviation interests with rockets and ballistic missile attacks on airports within the region, as well as across the border in Eritrea. Other military interests in the area have weapons capable of reaching much higher – including the Ethiopian military. More sophisticated systems are present in or near the region that are capable of reaching as high as FL490. For context, in August 1999 the Ethiopian military shot down a Learjet near the border with Eritrea. Then in May 2020 they also downed an Embraer 120 in Somalia. Both were misidentified.
More on the topic:
- More: SafeAirspace: 2021 Update
- More: Airspace Risk Warning – Ethiopia and Eritrea
- More: OPSGROUP featured on Al Jazeera
- More: ATC Strike over, but nine Ethiopian Air Traffic Controllers remain in jail
- More: Ethiopia risking flight safety to cover up ATC strike