The fighting continues in the Nagorno-Karabakh region along the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the heaviest seen in the long-running conflict since 2016. No end is in sight despite considerable international pressure for a ceasefire. Unconfirmed reports this week that an Armenian Su-25 fighter was shot down by a Turkish F-16 near the border.
The advice remains simple – avoid the border and contested regions. Overflights via ADEKI continue, although the most recent Notam from Azerbaijan warns of the threat posed by long-range missiles which it claims Armenia has used to target locations “throughout the territory” – suggesting that the conflict is now starting to spread beyond the border region.
If you’re headed to one of the airports (UDYZ/Yerevan, UBBB/Baku, etc) make sure you know where the conflict zone is, where the closed/restricted airspace is, and carry extra fuel in case of short-notice closures.
It appears they want aircraft to stay as far away from the Armenian border as possible. Here’s a quick run-down of the current restrictions, as per Azerbaijan’s UBBA/Baku Notams, and all reflected in the map below:
- Azerbaijan advise caution across the UBBA/Baku FIR due to the spillover of the border conflict. Specific warning of threat posed by long-range missiles, which they claim Armenia has used to target locations throughout Azerbaijan.
- For traffic crossing Azerbaijan, tracking via the northerly waypoint of ADEKI is now available in both directions facilitating entry and exit to the Baku FIR via Georgian airspace (UBBA Notam A0122/20 refers). FIR boundary waypoints BARAD and DISKA are now closed due to their proximity to the conflict zone (UBBA Notam A0123/20 refers).
- In July 2020, the conflict prompted Azerbaijan to establish a Temporary Restricted Area along the border with Armenia, which means that all east-west airways between the two countries are now effectively closed (UBBA Notam A0115/20 refers).
- Azerbaijan and Armenia have a long-standing dispute over the possession over Nagorno-Karabakh, an area located in the south-west of Azerbaijan labelled on airway charts as UBP3. Although this area falls under the Baku FIR, it’s a de facto independent state with Armenian backing. Although there are no published airways here, Azerbaijan has had a Notam in place since 2011 warning that the airspace is prohibited (UBBA Notam A0024/11 refers).
Armenia has also issued a Notam, asking all operators to monitor the status of large sections of airspace in the UDDD/Yerevan FIR near the eastern border. Tactical rerouting and short notice closures are likely, and operators are advised to carry additional fuel accordingly (UDDD Notam A0114/20 refers). So no firm airspace closures on the Armenian side of the border… yet.
In late July 2020, Germany and France published Notams containing airspace warnings for both Armenia and Azerbaijan following clashes along the northern border which broke out earlier that month.
The flare-up reportedly involved exchanges of artillery fire between the two countries in the northern Tavush region, with each side accusing the other of trying to seize front-line positions in the mountainous area.
During that round of fighting, both sides claimed to have shot down enemy drones. The Armenian military later displayed the remains of the 13 Azerbaijani drones it shot down, claiming that 10 of them were attack drones that were about to strike Armenian military and civilian targets in the northern border region.
Although the airspace warnings issued by Germany did not restrict overflights to certain flight levels, the Notams for both Armenia and Azerbaijan warned of a “potential risk to aviation… from military operation including anti aviation weaponry.” The German Notam containing this warning was initially published on July 17, and was then cancelled on July 31.
The airspace warnings issued by France were a bit different. Essentially, they said that operators should not overfly Armenia east of 44’45 East longitude; or Azerbaijan west of 47’20 East longitude except for certain airways in the far north of the UBBA/Baku FIR at FL340 or above. Here’s what that looks like. (Shaded area shows where French operators should not fly; airways highlighted in yellow show where French operators are permitted to fly at FL340 or above):
The French Notam containing this warning was published on July 24, and although the Notam got cancelled on July 30, the warning got incorporated into the big AIC that France maintains with airspace warnings for various different countries around the world. Therefore, this warning remains in effect until further notice.
For more info on airspace safety warnings, check Safeairspace.net – the Conflict Zone & Risk Database which provides a single, independent, and eternally free resource for all airspace risk warnings, so that airlines and aircraft operators can easily see the current risk picture for unfamiliar airspace.
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