Indonesia is intercepting aircraft – outside their airspace

By David Mumford


If you are operating in the Singapore FIR, consider this carefully: you may be overflying Indonesia without knowing it. Indonesia will know though, and they want you to have an overflight permit.

You will find out in one of three ways:

  1. You’ll be intercepted by two Indonesian Air Force fighter jets and brought to Indonesia
  2. You’ll receive a nastygram via your National Authority
  3. You’ll get a fine

2. and 3. are not cool, but 1. is something to avoid at all costs. The inside of military/police cells at outlying Indonesian Airports is not pretty.

Watch out for the following airways – M758, M646, M767, G334, M761, G580. These all pass over Indonesian territory, even though the area is actually part of the Singapore and Malaysia FIRs.

Indonesia has a reputation for excessively strict enforcement of permit rules.

On 14 Jan 2019, two Indonesian F-16s intercepted an Ethiopian Airlines cargo flight ETH3728 for flying across Indonesian airspace without permission. The aircraft was initially supposed to operate from HAAB/Addis Ababa to VHHH/Hong Kong, but was modified at the last minute to route via WSSS/Singapore instead, to make a delivery of Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines.

The Ethiopian Airlines aircraft was intercepted forced to land at WIDD/Batam Island – which lies right in the middle of the chunk of airspace controlled by Singapore.

Another incident happened back in 2014, where a King Air plane en-route from WBGG/Kuching to WSSS/Singapore was intercepted by Indonesian fighter jets in the same airspace managed by Singapore, and forced to land at WIOO/Pontianak Airport in Indonesia.

The reason? Because they were overflying some Indonesian islands out in the ocean, the Indonesian Air Force claimed they were overflying Indonesia’s sovereign skies – without a permit.

Indonesia still hasn’t updated its AIP, but the rules they enforce are clear: if you’re overflying any Indonesian territory, you must get an overflight permit, regardless of the flight level.

Here’s a nastygram to an OPSGROUP member, received in February 2017:

Bottom line: check your airways carefully, and make sure there are no Indonesian Island underneath. If there are, get a permit.


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One Comment

  • Peter Bennett says:

    Your information here is not correct. The flight was destined for Singapore, and it flew over much more than the Riau Islands of Indonesia without a permit. It flew over all of Sumatra without a permit. I would ask that this article be withdrawn for inaccurate information.

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