Mogadishu Wishes You a Class A New Year

By Rebecca Lougheed

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The Mogadishu FIR is that chunk of Somalian airspace which you have probably flown through if you regularly route from the Middle East to southern Africa.

Since 2022 they have been trialling the return of controlled airspace, and we have an update on that for you.

First up though, why are we interested in this FIR?

Somalia and its direct neighbours are all fairly high risk regions in terms of airspace safety. Yemen is a no fly zone, Eritrea and Djibouti are both fairly unstable, Somalia has issues with Al-Shabab, and the Tigray region in Ethiopia has an ongoing conflict to contend with.

So if we want to head from the Middle East into Africa or from Asia to Africa, we have to make a fairly large detour around these spots, or risk overflying areas considered unsafe and which also have limited diversion options due to safety and security concerns on the ground.

Somalia connects the Middle East and Asia to southern Africa.

Having part of the Mogadishu FIR available doesn’t help fix the safety and security on the ground (or lack of diversion options) issue, but there are airways which keep you over the oceanic region here, which means the overflight safety risk is reduced, which means we don’t have to detour as far.

So the HCSM/Mogadishu FIR offers a direct connection from the Mumbai FIR, and from Omani (Muscat) airspace into Africa.

But it has issues of its own?

That it does.

The situation on the ground in Somalia is highly unstable. The central government has little control of the major cities and ports, with ongoing attacks from extremist militants targeting civilians who continue to show an intent to target aviation interests. The primary risk is to overflying aircraft at the lower flight levels, which may be targeted by anti-aircraft-capable weapons.

What warnings should I know about?

  • The US prohibits flights across Somalia’s airspace below FL260 (except for flights transiting the overwater portion of the airspace going to/from HDAM/Djibouti airport across the border in Ethiopia).
  • Several other countries have issued airspace warnings advising against operating below FL260 (Note UR401 SIHIL-AXINA is excluded from this by one authority).

There is also a secondary risk related to a lack of ATC service for overflights of the HCSM/Mogadishu FIR. The airspace was Class G uncontrolled airspace for sometime, requiring IFBP and HF comms (and a fair amount of looking out) for crew.

However, from 11 May 2022 they started trialling Class A airspace again, from FL245 each day from 0300-1800z.

Tell us more about this airspace then!

We wrote about the trials here.

From November 2022, they extended the Class A operating hours to H24.

From 26 Jan 2023 it will become full operational, fixed, permanent, sorted and set via AIP SUP 01/23 (no, we aren’t sure where you can access that directly!).

HCSM/Mogadishu FIR Notam A0012/23 is the one with the info. It looks like this:

A0012/23 - TRIGGER NOTAM AIRAC AIP SUP 01/23 WEF 00:01 UTC 26 JAN 2023. 
OPERATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION OF CLASS ''A'' AIRSPACE WITHIN THE MOGADISHU 
FLIGHT INFORMATION REGION AT AND ABOVE FL245. 26 JAN 00:01 2023 UNTIL 
08 FEB 23:59 2023. CREATED: 19 JAN 07:45 2023

It is worth noting they are still training ATC. This takes place from 0300-1800z, so go easy on the trainees if you’re flying during those times.

The “upgrading” of the airspace is down to the Somalia Airspace Special Coordination Team (SASCT), comprising of the Somali CAA, IATA, ICAO, adjacent FIRs, and core RCG (Regional Coordination Group) airline team members. Thanks folks! They are going to monitor the progress and performance over the next 6 months so send in your feedback to IATA_AME@IATA.ORG

Tell us some comms stuff.

You have VHF 132.5 within 240nm of MOGDU. In case you can’t find it, that’s a point over HCMM/Aden Adde airport.

There are a whole bunch of HF frequencies as well:

  • Day 11300/8879/13288
  • Night 5517/11300/3467

They have CPDLC for FANS1 equipped folk. Logon: HCSM.

And they have a whole load of SATCOM numbers you can try if you get really stuck:

  • +252 61 335 0046
  • +252 62 3350047
  • +252 1857390
  • +252 1857391
  • +252 1857392
  • +252 1857393

What else do I need to know?

That is about it. There are contingency procedures, and fairly standard equipment and all that which you can read about in full in here.

We also say check your weather, check your fuel, check your alternates because there are not many options nearby if routing this way. You can find more information on airspace safety here.

Radio Mogadishu is not the same as Mogadishu radio.

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More on the topic:

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Rebecca Lougheed

Rebecca Lougheed

I am an OPSGROUP team member, an A340/A380 pilot, and interested in all things flight ops, cats and beer related. Based near an undisclosed airfield in England. Question for us? Write to blog.team@ops.group.

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