With Russian airports and airspace now off limits for many operators, what airports across Alaska (and also Asia) are available, suitable, and useable for things like ETOPS alternates, fuel stops, and tech stops?
To be honest, very few! Once you cross into the Bering Sea you are extremely limited in the westerly direction, and probably looking at a far more southerly route initially because of the awkward “extra chunk” of Russia that sticks out the bottom.
Why is Russia off limits?
As part of a range of political sanctions imposed on Russia, several countries have now banned Russian aircraft and operators from their airspace – The European Union along with some non-EU countries, the US and Canada. In response, Russia has banned aircraft and operators of many of these countries from Russian airspace.
The exception, at present, is the US – Russia has still not officially banned US aircraft/operators from its airspace. However, some local agents are saying that they are not able to provide Russian landing and overflight permits to US registered aircraft/operators, and we’ve had similar reports from some locally based OPSGROUP members. Major US carriers are already avoiding Russian airspace, which is sensible action to follow given the uncertainty.
This is affecting a lot of operators at present, who are now having to route around Russian airspace.
The Alaskan Options
A report on a recent routing from Anchorage to India considered the following airports as possible options.
- PASY/Eareckson Air Station
- 10,004’/3050m x 45m
- ILS 28 / RNAV 10
- Fuel and maintenance support unknown
- More an emergency option that a fuel or tech stop option
- Talk to them on +1 907-552-3443 / +1 907-392-3361
- ARFF Cat 7
- PCN 132/F/A/W/T
- 7790′ / 2374m x 60m
- ILS 23 only
- Some pretty mean terrain around and windshear warnings
- Fuel available, maintenance support unknown
- Talk to them on +1 907-269-0751 / +1 907-592-8026
- ARFF Cat 01
- PCN 49/R/B/X/T
- PACD/Cold Bay
- 10,179′ / 3102m x 45m
- ILS 15 / RNAV 33
- High terrain to the south
- Gets some serious fog!
- Fuel available, efficient services here
- Talk to them on +1 907-532-5000 / +1 907-465-1788
- ARFF Cat 06
- PCN unknown
- PAVD/Valdez (if routing from further east and you don’t fancy Anchorage)
- 6500′ / 1981m x 45m
- There are no straight in approaches of 05/23 because there is some serious mountainous terrain here. You need to have trained for this spot before you try it!
- Talk to them on +1 907-451-5217 / +1 907-835-5658
- Fuel and minor maintenance
- ARFF Cat 01
- PCN 54/F/B/X/T
The major international airpots of Alaska lie further east and aren’t so useful range-wise if routing westbound.
PANC/Anchorage to PADK/Adak is approximately 3:15 hours flying time, or 1900km. PASY/Eareckson Air Station lies further east.
The Asia Options
With Russian airspace now off limits for many operators, aircraft attempting to route westbound from the US (via Alaska) are most likely going to have to take a more southeasterly route initially, bringing them over Japan before routing further into Asia. Past Japan, another southern dogleg (albeit it smaller) is needed to avoid North Korean airspace as well.
The following airport has been recommended by other operators:
- RJCC/New Chitose (Sapporo)
- Multiple runways 9843′ / 3000m x 60m
- ILS CAT II/III available
- Major international airport with all the facilities
- RFF Cat 9
- Talk to any of the many agent and handler options
The direct distance between PADK/Adak and RJCC/New Chitose is approximately 3,300km
For the pilots and planners
Range, suitability and availability are all going to be a bit of a problem with routes heading this direction. Considerations on weather conditions are probably one of the major things to think about. Your only real option if you need fuel or tech support is Adak airport and then onto Sapporo, depending on aircraft range.
There are limited options available to you if you have an emergency. Plan, prepare and monitor.
The full list of airports we’ve heard suggested are as follows:
- PACD/Cold Bay
- PAKN/King Salomon
- PASN/St. Paul Island
If you are operating westbound and have been impacted by the Russian airspace bans, let us know what airports you considered at firstname.lastname@example.org
More on the topic:
- More: Updated FAA Oceanic Guides
- More: PBCS – What, Where and How
- More: Russian bombers intercepted off Alaskan coast (again)
- More: Iridium fault prompts ban by Oceanic ATC
- More: Midweek Briefing 13JUL: South Sudan off limits, New Zealand airport strike off