Tag: FAA (page 1 of 2)

FAA Issues New Ukraine Advice

The U.S. FAA has partially lifted its airspace ban on Eastern Ukraine – the UKFV/Simferopol and UKDV/Dnipropetrovsk FIRs.

The new ruling means that U.S. operators are now allowed to operate on routes over certain parts of the Black Sea, and to three Ukrainian airports: UKHH/Kharkiv, UKDD/Dnipropetrovsk and UKDE/Zaporizhzhia.

According to the FAA, “security and safety conditions have sufficiently stabilized in certain regions of Ukraine, thereby reducing the area of hazard to U.S. civil aviation” in the UKFV and UKDV FIRs.

Here’s our map detailing the new rule:

click the image to open larger version!

The changes:

UKDV/Dnipropetrovsk FIR:
– Everything east of ABDAR – M853 – NIKAD – N604 – GOBUN is prohibited. Airways M853 and N604 are off-limits as well.
– Operations to Kharkiv International Airport (UKHH), Dnipropetrovsk International Airport (UKDD),  and Zaporizhzhia International Airport (UKDE) are now permitted.

UKFV/Simferopol FIR:
– Everything North/North East of SOBLO – DOLOT – SOROK – OTPOL is off-limits.
– Airways M856, M854, M860 and L851 have been approved for flights over the Black Sea.
– Airway M747 is prohibited, as it shares some of the off-limits airspace.

Here’s the Notam:

A0021/18 NOTAMN Q) KICZ/QRDLP/IV/NBO/AE/000/999/ 
A) KICZ B) 1810191127 C) 2010272359 
E) SECURITY..UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FLIGHT PROHIBITION AGAINST CERTAIN FLIGHTS IN THE SIMFEROPOL (UKFV) FLIGHT INFORMATION REGION (FIR) AND DNIPROPETROVSK (UKDV) FIR 14 CFR 91.1607 SPECIAL FEDERAL AVIATION REGULATION (SFAR) NO. 113 PROHIBITION AGAINST CERTAIN FLIGHTS IN THE SIMFEROPOL (UKFV) FLIGHT INFORMATION REGION (FIR) AND DNIPROPETROVSK (UKDV) FIR WAS PUBLISHED IN THE FEDERAL REGISTER ON 19 OCT 2018 AND WAS EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION IS PROVIDED AT: HTTPS://WWW.FAA.GOV/AIR_TRAFFIC/PUBLICATIONS/US_RESTRICTIONS/ F) SFC G) UNL

Why now?

The FAA’s previous ban, in place since April 2014, applied to all airspace in the UKFV and UKDV FIRs. There were two quite separate issues affecting the two chunks of airspace: risk from arms fire in the UKDV FIR, and disputed airspace in the UKFV FIR.

Let’s take a look at each one, with the reasons why the ban was initially imposed, and what has happened since then to convince the FAA to downgrade its warning…

UKDV/Dnipropetrovsk FIR: Risk from arms fire

The war in the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine resulted in the shoot-down of MH17 in July 2014. Multiple military aircraft were shot down in the region in the weeks leading up to that event. The airspace ban was imposed due to the clear risk of civil aircraft being targeted – or as the FAA more diplomatically puts it: “aircraft being misidentified and then intercepted or otherwise engaged”.

What’s changed?
Here’s what the FAA say:

“The anti-aircraft weapons capabilities and deployments of forces associated with the pro-Russian separatists are limited at this time to within the eastern portion of the UKDV/Dnipropetrovsk FIR. While the potential for fluctuating levels of military engagement continues along the line of control in eastern portions of the FIR, the military conflict has begun to stabilize, which reduces the risk of a larger-scale conflict that might extend into the western portion of the FIR. This results in a reduced risk to civil aviation in the western portion of the FIR.”

In other words…
The conflict has died-down, and only exists over in the east of the FIR anyway, near to the border with Russia. The risk to ops over the western part of the FIR is now sufficiently reduced so as to allow the reopening of that portion of airspace, and for flights to resume to the airports in that region (UKHH/Kharkiv, UKDD/Dnipropetrovsk and UKDE/Zaporizhzhia).

UKFV/Simferopol FIR – Disputed airspace

In March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea. The ATC Center is in Simferopol, Crimea, and is now run by Russia. Russia claims the airspace, and now publish Notams for the FIR under the code “URFV”. Ukraine refuses to recognise the change, and asks crews to talk to Ukrainian controllers in Dnipro/Odesa ACC instead of Simferopol ACC. As the FAA point out, the risk here stems from aircraft “receiving confusing and conflicting air traffic control instructions from both Ukrainian and Russian ATC” when operating over the region.

What’s changed?
Here’s what they say:

“The previous flight safety concerns for conflicting ANSP guidance for the Black Sea air routes at a distance offshore from the Peninsula within portions of the Simferopol FIR (UKFV) have been addressed by the government of Ukraine. Since the FAA extended the prohibition in SFAR No. 113, § 91.1607, in 2016, the government of Ukraine has established, via its aeronautical information publication (AIP), a restricted airspace area over the Crimean Peninsula and the adjacent territorial sea. In addition, the government of Ukraine has issued flight advisories, prohibitions and other instructions for the safe navigation of civil aircraft, which are published via NOTAMs, reclassified Ukrainian airspace in 2014… and improved safety incident reporting procedures to mitigate the risks associated with conflicting ANSP guidance from the Russian Federation over the Black Sea routes offshore from the Crimean Peninsula and over the high seas. Since these actions were implemented, there has been a decrease in safety-related hazards demonstrated by over two years of safe flight operations on the Black Sea air routes by non-U.S. civil operators. Therefore, the FAA assesses that these actions have sufficiently mitigated the hazard to civil aviation operating on the Black Sea air routes to allow U.S. civil flights to resume on those routes.”

In other words…
The Russians are still in Crimea, still claiming control of the airspace, and still confusing people. So that northern part of the FIR is therefore still out-of-bounds. But in the south, operators can safely fly over a handful of airways over the Black Sea which are controlled by Ukrainian ATC.

What are other countries saying about Ukraine?

Aside from the U.S., three other countries consistently publish airspace warnings: the UK, Germany, and France.

UK and France: both have warnings in place advising against all ops over both of these Ukrainian FIRs, with the exception of airways L851, M856, M860, and M854 in the UKFV/Simferopol FIR.

Germany: does not have any published warnings in place at all.

So for the southerly UKFV/Simferopol FIR, the change to U.S. advice is basically just mirroring what France and the UK have been saying for the past two years. But for the northerly UKDV/Dnipropetrovsk FIR, the U.S. is now the first and only country to say that a portion of the airspace is now deemed safe to operate in.

For more details on Ukraine and other airspace warnings, head to SafeAirspace.net.

For the new U.S. rule in full, click here.

Your top three PBCS questions answered

PBCS has been an ongoing PITA for some time now. We wrote about it back in March. Here are the top three questions we’ve had on it since then – and now we finally have some answers!

Question 1: What happens if I still haven’t received my updated A056 LOA?

After the PBCS tracks were introduced in March 2018, the FAA published a Notice requiring all N-reg operators to update their A056 LOA authorization – regardless of whether or not they intended to fly these PBCS tracks. For private (Part 91) operators, the deadline to submit the application was 30th September 2018.

There was a barrage of applications, and the FAA still seem to have a bit of a backlog, as even now some operators have still not received their updated approvals.

The FAA’s unofficial policy is that as long as you have applied for a revised LOA, you can continue to use your old authorization after September 30th, while you wait for the new one to be issued.

Bottom line: This means you are allowed to keep flying in the North Atlantic, just not on the PBCS tracks.

Question 2: What about that problem with aircraft with Honeywell systems installed?

Back in March, a latency timer issue with certain Honeywell FMS systems meant that there were bunch of aircraft which weren’t able to get the PBCS approval.

In June, Honeywell issued a service bulletin fix for the issue, available at varying times for different aircraft. Since then, the FAA has been issuing the updated A056 LOA approvals to those aircraft with the Honeywell systems that reflect the new capabilities but the still don’t meet the PBCS requirement of RCP240 due to the latency timer issue.

Bottom line: Now those affected aircraft are able to receive the updated A056 LOA approvals, just with a PBCS restriction – meaning they can continue to operate in the North Atlantic, just not on the PBCS tracks.

Question 3: What the heck is PBCS anyway?

PBCS stands for ‘performance-based communication and surveillance’.

PBCS involves globally coordinated and accepted standards for Required Communication Performance (RCP) and Required Surveillance Performance (RSP), with the goal being to allow the application of reduced lateral and longitudinal separation to aircraft which meet the criteria.

To be PBCS compliant, you basically need CPDLC capable of RCP240 and ADS-C capable of RSP180; this effectively means having a 4 minute comms loop, and 3 minute position reporting.

PBCS has been implemented in various different chunks of airspace around the world, but most notably in the North Atlantic, where the three core daily NAT Tracks are assigned as PBCS tracks between FL350-390. To fly those, you will need to be PBCS compliant (read above) but also have RNP4 (the rest of the NAT only requires RNP10).

Feeling queasy? That’s okay, reading about PBCS makes us feel that way too. If you’re still hungry for more though, check out our recent article on all things PBCS!

More questions? Get in touch!

Indy Center kicks off CPDLC trials – the system is live!

The United States is rolling out En Route FANS CPDLC during 2018-19, for all equipped, trained and permitted operators. The FAA’s Advisory Circular AC 90-117 outlines the requirements for U.S. operators.

Trials have begun with KZID/Indianapolis going live with 24/7 ops starting last week.

We also understand that KZME/Memphis and KZKC/Kansas City are still in the testing phase with CPDLC and voice read back happening 1-2 nights per week during the midnight shift.

The current deployment schedule as it stands can be found in this graphic. [if you know what DFV means, let us know!]

How to participate:

  • The FANS logon is “KUSA” for the entire country and you may logon at any time. The CPDLC connection will become active after departure, and the crew is notified via a welcome message uplink. If En Route FANS CPDLC enabled airspace is active, you will stay logged on. If the aircraft transitions from En Route FANS CPDLC enabled airspace into non-Data Link airspace with an active CPDLC connection then the connection will terminate approximately seven minutes after exiting.
  • To participate, file “DAT/FANSE” in Field 18 of the ICAO Flight Plan.
  • Equipment required is VDL Mode 2, indicated as “J4” in Field 10a of the ICAO Flight Plan.
  • If an operator wants to use domestic En Route FANS CPDLC and is already using FANS DCL then the the majority of operations will fall into one of these scenarios:
    • (1) The operator uses FANS DCL via the “DAT/1FANS2PDC” preference in Field 18 of the ICAO Flight Plan. In that case, update the preference to “DAT/1FANSE2PDC“.
    • (2) The operator uses FANS DCL via the FAA’s Subscriber Database. In that case, the operator will want to add the entry “DAT/FANSE” in Field 18 of the Flight Plan.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Domestic En Route FANS CPDLC enabled airspace will be seamlessly integrated with foreign (Canadian) and Oceanic FANS CPDLC enabled airspace.
  • The Oceanic Clearance will not be delivered via FANS CPDLC. You will still need to request the clearance via AFIS/ACARS or obtain it via voice.

Have you had the chance to try it out recently? Let us know!

Extra Reading:

PBCS – What, Where and How

In Short: The performance-based communication and surveillance (PBCS) framework allows for higher safety standards and more efficient airspace use. If your aircraft already has the equipment and you cross the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans often, it’s worth looking into getting your regulatory approval.

PB… what? It’s a good question. We have so many acronyms in aviation, it’s easy to forget what this one stands for and what it really means. So, let’s try and get to the bottom of it.

What is PBCS?

Official answer:

The ICAO performance-based communication and surveillance (PBCS) framework ensures that emerging technologies for communication and surveillance fully support ATM operations and are implemented and operated safely.

In plain speak:

With the technology already available on many aircraft and in the Air Traffic Control facility, aircraft can now fly closer than ever before, especially over non-radar oceanic airspace.

There are two key buzz words, so let’s define them. They are interlinked with RNP – Required Navigation Performance.

  • RSP – Required Surveillance Officially known as “surveillance data delivery”, often stipulated in the Airplane Flight Manual. Basically, how often does the aircraft send its position to ATC/ground station. There are two specifications, RSP180 and RSP400. The numbers indicate the maximum number of seconds (180 or 400) for the transaction to occur.
  • RCP – Required Communication ICAO has two specifications, RCP240 and RCP400. Again, the numbers indicate the maximum number of seconds (240 or 400), or “transaction time” taken for the controller to issue an instruction to the crew and for them to receive a response. This could be via CPDLC, HFDL, VDL or SATCOM.

So, we have a loop here, C-N-S. Communication, Navigation and Surveillance. An aircraft sends surveillance information to ATC about where it is; the aircraft stays within confines of RNP navigation requirements and ATC communicates with the aircraft within the required transaction times.  Pretty easy!

But why do we need PBCS?

The take away? If all given aircraft in a certain airspace have a lower RSP value and a lower RCP value, we can start putting these aircraft closer together.

Essentially – performance-based separation minima. This allows aircraft to be separated safely according to technological capability rather than “one-size-fits-all” prescriptive distances.

What are the differences from PBN?

They are similar but there are notable differences. In a simple sense, the PBN (RNP/RNAV) only requires that the operator obtains approval because it focuses on how the equipment works. PBCS (RSP/RCP) however requires the involvement and approval of the air traffic service provider because it’s a two-way communication and surveillance effort. There are dependencies and complexity with the equipment standards on both ends.

In this graphic you can see a high-level summary of who is responsible for what:

Where is it in place?

Currently PBCS is in effect in one form or another in the following FIR’s

  • NZZC/Auckland Oceanic
  • NFFF/Nadi
  • KZAK/Oakland Oceanic
  • PAZN/Anchorage Oceanic
  • WSJC/Singapore
  • VCCF/Sri Lanka
  • NTTT/Tahiti
  • RJJJ/ Fukuoka
  • KZNY/New York Oceanic
  • CZQX/Gander
  • EGGX/Shanwick
  • BIRD/ Reykjavik
  • LPPO/Santa Maria Oceanic

The Air Traffic Service providers of China, Brazil and Indonesia have also shown interest to introduce PBCS in the future.

Specifically, PBCS is being used between FL350 and 390 on certain “half” NAT tracks as we have written about before.

What do I need to do?

Requirements vary from state-to-state on the exact procedure for obtaining approval. It’s important to note that not all aircraft are automatically PBCS ready (refer to your aircraft manufacturer and your airplane flight manual).

The FAA has outlined its approval process here and has a handy powerpoint document here.

An important element is to prove that you have signed the “PBCS Global Charter” which can be found at the FANS Central Reporting Agency (CRA) website.

When a PBCS authorization is obtained an operator is required to file both P2 (indicating RCP240) in item 10 and SUR/RSP180 in item 18 of the flight plan, in addition to the J codes for CPDLC and D1 or G1 for ADS-C in item 10.

The correct filing of these two codes will indicate to any ATM ground systems applying performance-based separation minima that the aircraft is eligible for these minima and that the crew have received the relevant training in order to safely operate using the reduced separations.

Will you notice that PBCS standards are being applied to your flight?

Ok this is the funny part of this story. The short answer, probably not.

While it may be easier for RCP240/RSP180 approved aircraft to obtain optimal flight profiles, especially during high traffic periods, and particularly for NAT flights using the OTS, the application of these standards is generally tactical in nature for ATC. An aircraft may not have performance-based separation applied at all on an individual flight, or possibly may never have had it applied to any of its flights. Even if a you have RCP240/RSP180 approvals, if the aircraft nearby does not also have the approvals, the separation standards cannot be applied!

What if I don’t have RCP240 and RSP180 approval?

If you do not have RCP240/RSP180 approvals you will always have the larger separations, e.g. 10-min, applied, and not be eligible for the lower standards in cases where it may be beneficial.

The only airspace that has implemented tracks that will require PBCS to file is in the NAT OTS. There are still non-PBCS tracks in the OTS for which PBCS approvals are not required.

All other airspace in which performance-based separation minima are currently applied will allow aircraft with and without RCP240 and RSP180 approvals to enter and use the airspace in a mixed-mode operation.

Will I be penalized if I don’t have it?

Probably not in the short term. In the future as more and more airspace corridors become PBCS only, then it is possible you may be subject to reroutes, delays or the requirement to fly outside of certain flight levels.

So, our conclusion?

PBCS is a great step forward in maximizing efficiency in a busier airspace environment thanks to the advent of better technology. If you fly the NATs often and have an aircraft capable of PBCS certification standards, then yes – do it! The approval process is not overly burdensome, and many modern transatlantic jets already meet most of the technical requirements.

Ultimately, reduced separation standards mean more great air-to-air views. So, pack your camera!

You were in a 4G inverted dive with a Mig 28? -Yes, ma’am. -At what range? -Um, about two meters. -Eh, lieutenant, what were you doing there? -Communicating. Keeping up foreign relations.

Did we miss something, or does something need more explaining? Let us know!

Extra Reading:

That MMEL thing: here’s an update

The FAA is set to issue new guidance to provide a resolution to the long-running MMEL vs MEL debacle. However, it may not be the one we were expecting!

Last year, ramp checks on some US aircraft in France highlighted an important issue – EASA and the FAA have different interpretations of the ICAO standards regarding deferring aircraft discrepancies.

In the US, with FAA authorization operators can use a master minimum equipment list (MMEL) to defer repairing certain equipment. But in Europe, MMEL cannot be used in lieu of an MEL specific to each aircraft or fleet.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) began requiring all aircraft transiting European airspace to have an approved Minimum Equipment List (MEL) for each, individual aircraft. An MEL that references the MMEL was not acceptable.

This was a pain for US operators, as to get an individual MEL approved under the Letter of Authorisation (LOA) from the FAA takes time – but by not doing so, they ran the risk of failing a ramp check in a European country.

At the start of 2018, we understood that the FAA had reached an agreement with EASA: the FAA would start requiring international operators to obtain new D195 LOA’s, and in return EASA would halt any findings for a period of 12 months to allow for these new LOA’s to be issued.

But now we understand the FAA have decided that making operators get new D195 LOA’s will be far too much work for everyone involved!

Instead, they intend to just continue to issue the D095 approvals – but they will more vigorously validate the required components (such as the Preamble and M&O procedures).

This certainly appears to present a reversal of the previous commitment to EASA, who may very well not accept these LOA’s. If that happens, then the approval won’t be valid over in Europe – meaning ramp checks of N-reg aircraft in European countries will once again throw up the old MMEL finding, just like before.

We expect the FAA to officially issue this updated guidance to inspectors in the very near future, to be followed by a FAA InFo Letter to Part 91 Operators. The NBAA have said they will issue a bulletin to share the guidance as soon as it is released.

How to prepare for a ramp check in Europe?

We wrote a 2017 article all about how to make a ramp check painless.

We have also updated the FSB SAFA Ramp Checklist. Download it here.

Keep a copy with you and run through it before you head towards the EU.

 

 

Further reading

Runway? Who needs one when you have a taxiway!

It’s happened again.

Around midnight on a perfectly clear night last week in Riyadh, a Jet Airways 737 tried to take off on a taxiway. The crew mistaking a new taxiway for a runway!

The crew, with thousands of hours experience, took off on a surface that didn’t have runway markings or runway lights. Thankfully no one was seriously hurt.  It’s too early to exactly say why this happened, but it’s clear that some sort of “expectation bias” was a factor. Expecting to make the first left turn onto the runway. One has to ask – was ATC monitoring the take off?

After the tragic Singapore 747 accident in Taipei, technology was developed to audibly notify crew if they were about to depart “ON TAXIWAY”. This is known as the Runway Awareness and Advisory System (RAAS).

Sadly the Riyadh incident is not isolated. There have been a plethora of near misses in the past few years (more details in Extra Reading below).

There have also been more than a few “incidents” of aircraft from C17’s to 747s landing at the wrong airports! The most notable near miss recently was that of an Air Canada A320 nearly landing on a taxiway full of aircraft at KSFO/San Francisco. But it’s happened to Delta and Alaskan Air recently too.

It is an even bigger issue at a General Aviation level (and not just because Harrison Ford did it!). The FAA safety team recently noted;

The FAA Air Traffic Organization (ATO) has advised of an increase in, “Wrong Surface Landing Incidents” in the National Airspace System (NAS).

Incidents include:

  • Landing on a runway other than the one specified in the ATC clearance (frequently after the pilot provides a correct read back)
  • Landing on a Taxiway
  • Lining up with the wrong runway or with a taxiway during approach
  • Landing at the wrong airport

The FAA published some shocking statistics:

  • 557wrong surface landing/approach events” between 2016-2018. That’s one every other day!
  • 89% occurred during daylight hours
  • 91% occurred with a visibility of 3 statue miles or greater


So what to do?

There are numerous ‘best operating practices’ pilots can use to help avoid such incidents.

  • Be prepared! Preflight planning should include familiarization with destination and alternate airports to include airport location, runway layout, NOTAMs, weather conditions (to include anticipated landing runway)
  • Reduce cockpit distractions during approach and landing phase of flight.
  • Use visual cues such as verifying right versus left runways; runway magnetic orientation; known landmarks versus the location of the airport or runway
  • Be on the lookout for “Expectation Bias” If approaching a familiar airport, ATC might clear you for a different approach or landing runway.  Be careful not to fall back on your past experiences.  Verify!
  • Always include the assigned landing runway and your call sign in the read back to a landing clearance
  • Utilize navigation equipment such as Localizer/GPS (if available) to verify proper runway alignment

It’s worth spending a few minutes watching this.

Extra Reading

 

Why are you still getting the Ruudy6 wrong? Stop at 1500!

If you’re departing Teterboro any time soon, make sure you stop at 1500 feet – and have a good look at the rest of the RUUDY 6 departure. That’s the message from NY ATC, and the Teterboro Users Group.

The FAA has reported over 112 pilot deviations on the KTEB/Teterboro RUUDY 6  SID.

The Teterboro Users Group has asked us to remind all pilots that strict compliance is required, especially vertically.

“The most common error being a climb straight to 2000’ without honouring the requirement to cross WENTZ at 1500” – Capt. David Belastock, President, TUG

This week the FAA issued the following notice which explain the issue and the serious consequences of non-compliance, namely the reduced vertical separation with KEWR/Newark arrivals:

Teterboro Airport SID Deviations

Notice Number: NOTC7799

The Ruudy Six departure continues to incur both lateral, but in particular, vertical pilot deviations. Due to the proximity of Newark and other area airports it is imperative to follow the RNAV(RNP1) departure procedure to Performance Based Navigation (PBN) standards. Do not drift left off course to avoid noise monitors. Do not climb above 1500 until passing Wentz intersection. There is only 1000 feet of separation with overhead traffic at Wentz. When issued the clearance to “climb via the SID” all altitude restrictions must be complied with as depicted on the chart.

Attached are excerpts from the Aeronautical Information Manual and the Controllers handbook explaining the Climb Via procedure. An expanded explanation is in chapter 4 and 5 of the AIM.

Further information can be found on the Teterboro Users Group website http://teterborousersgroup.org and in KTEB Notice to Airmen (Letters to Airmen section)

There has been an extensive education campaign underway for a long period including guidance material, pilot meetings, educational podcasts and even a FlightSafety International eLearning course. Despite these efforts, pilot deviations continue to occur.

A great guide has been created by Captain Belastock and its very useful for any crews operating out of KTEB.

Know of any other procedures with unusually high non-compliance?

Let us know!

Don’t forget to file MACH number in NY Oceanic Airspace

KZWY/New York Oceanic FIR last month published a NOTAM requiring Flight Plans to be submitted with MACH crusing number, rather than TAS in Field 15A for the flight plan. So far, most operators are not doing this. But you should!

This includes flight departing TXKF/Bermuda.

A0178/18 – ALL ACFT ENTERING THE NEW YORK OCEANIC FIR (KZWY), INCLUDING THOSE DEPARTING BERMUDA (TXKF) , MUST FILE A MACH NUMBER INSTEAD OF A SPEED OF KNOTS IN THE EXPECTED CRUISE SPEED FIELD (FIELD 15A) OF THEIR FPL. 03 MAY 17:08 2018 UNTIL 31 MAR 23:59 2019. CREATED: 03 MAY 17:09 2018

Reports are that compliance so far has been low.

So why do it?

NY ARTCC tell us:

This minor adjustment enables the ATC computer system to effectively probe flight plans and proactively offer more favorable routes and/or reroutes.

Help ATC out! Thank you.

 

Who is still flying over Syria?

We have reported recently on the complex airspace picture and dangers associated with the ongoing Syrian conflict.

Most major carriers have taken the advice of numerous government agencies to avoid Syrian airspace altogether; the FAA going as far as calling on all operators flying within 200 nautical miles of the OSTT/Damascus FIR to “exercise caution”.  Today, the only airlines flying over the airspace are locally based Syrian airlines, Iraq Airlines and Lebanon’s Middle Eastern Airlines.

These MEA overflights are of interest. The airline is a member of the SkyTeam alliance and has codeshare agreements with several high-profile airlines (Air Canada, Air France, etc.) Despite the repeated warnings of the ongoing dangers associated with overflights of this conflict zone, the airline has chosen to schedule more than half-a-dozen flights over the airspace each day.

Some of these flights have the usual codeshare practise of other airlines booking their passengers on MEA flights. Our research shows that Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways (Oneworld Alliance) and Royal Jordanian Airlines (Oneworld Alliance) passengers are still being booked on MEA flights to/from Beirut; likely unbeknown to their customers of the increased flight risk. All three airlines continue to service Beirut with their own aircraft, but all three avoid Syrian airspace, naturally accepting the best advice to avoid the area completely.

Something isn’t right here: no warning anywhere about these flights being flown over Syria.

So why is it safe for passengers to overfly Syria on an MEA flight, but not on any of the other airlines? And more importantly, why is MEA still operating over Syria anyway?

It looks like Kuwait Airways will be the next codeshare partner of MEA, so it will be interesting to see whether the issue of the overflight of conflict zones will be discussed.

As always, keep an eye on our Safeairspace map for the latest worldwide updates.

Last minute ATC grab in Congress

On Friday Apr 27, the US House of Representatives approved a long-delayed bill to authorize funding for the FAA, after GA advocates had mobilized earlier in the week to fight-off a last-minute attempt to privatize US ATC.

Late on Tuesday Apr 24, Republican Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced a “managers amendment” to the proposed five-year FAA funding bill.

His amendment called for two things:
1. Remove the US ATC system from the FAA and instead make it part of the Transportation Department.
2. Allow it to be run by a 13-member advisory board made up mainly by airlines.

“Both of these provisions were drafted in the dark of night, without any opportunity for public debate,” said NBAA.

After last minute lobbying by GA advocates, the two contentious items in the bill were removed.

While Shuster agreed to remove the measures, he reiterated that he “strongly believe[s] Congress must pass real air traffic control reform” and that he sees that happening “somewhere down the line.”

“We are pleased to see this legislation pass the House,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “While the bill is not perfect, a long-term reauthorization is critical to advancing our shared priorities. Equally important, this bipartisan bill will modernize, not privatize air traffic control. We are grateful that members of Congress heard their constituents’ concerns about ATC privatization, and reflected those concerns in bringing this legislation to final passage.”

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