Special Report: Crimea and Simferopol FIR

By Declan Selleck



URFB Sevastopol Belbek (was UKFB)
URFF Simferopol (was UKFF)
URFV Simferopol FIR/ACC (was URFV)

* Issued by Russia, not (yet) recognised outside Russia.

Aircraft Reports

Since the re-opening of Simferopol ACC on 03 APR, Eurocontrol has rejected FPL’s containing routings through the Simferopol FIR with the exception of the L851 airway which runs along the southern part of the FIR.

Traffic operating through the Simferopol FIR on Friday 04APR reported issues with “Joint Authority”:

B747 enroute Europe-ME:
Instruction from Bucharest ACC to contact Odessa on 134.675
On initial contact with them, they advised us to comply only to their instructions!
Then Simferopol ACC calls on 121.5 and advised to switch on 120.4.
Also they advised us to comply only to their instructions!
Both performed radio check to see if the aircraft is still on frequencies Both provide instructions (position report), fortunately the same

CL601 enroute LOWW/Vienna-URKK/Krasnodar
We were passed onto Odessa Radar and checked in with them. We were then told to maintain our altitude and also warned NOT to get in contact with Simferopol as it is not a legal ATC station.
We were also given another frequency in case we lost comms with Odessa.
We were contacted on 121.5, the emergency frequency by Simferopol advising us to contact them on their frequency numerous times. We decided as a crew to stay with Odessa. We were then passed onto Rostov control and continued the flight with no incident.



At present, there is effectively a stand off between Russia and Ukraine over recognititon of who is the rightful Authority to manage the airspace over Crimea. Russia has determined that it is Simferopol ACC, and is providing full service for the airspace from the existing ATC Centre. Ukraine, through Eurocontrol, determined that it should continue to provide service from remote sites, and therefore asserts its authority over the airspace.

The result, is that two Authorities are both stating claim over what has become Disputed Airspace, in a very similar situation to that in Northern Cyprus. So, who is right? There is no correct answer. The political situation is complex at present, and it difficult to determine what the future will bring.

Purely on a practical analysis however, it can be said with relative certainty, that Crimea will remain under Russian control, and it is likely to be a matter of time before Russian managed operation of Simferopol ACC is accepted internationally, either on a safety case or a relaxing of political stance.
Until such time, operation within the Simferopol FIR is operationally possible but carries with it the risks associated with Disputed Airspace.

More on the topic:

More reading:

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Declan Selleck

Declan Selleck

Declan is a Flight Service Specialist with OPSGROUP.

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