Tag: Syria

Why are we still flying airline passengers over war zones?

Here’s the level of inconsistency we’ve reached in international air transport: we take each passenger, scrutinize their booking, check the no-fly-list, watch them on CCTV, pull them apart at TSA, remove anything sharper than a pen, question them, x-ray the bags, run Explosive Trace Detection tests, screen the hold baggage, background check every member of the crew, and then, once they’ve all boarded, fly this ultra-secure airplane straight into a war zone.

Welcome to the Eastern Mediterranean. It’s an active conflict zone. The Russian naval build up there this month is the largest since Moscow’s intervention in Syria began in 2015. Over Syria, 9 aircraft have been shot down this year.

The most recent was on Monday night this week, when Syria came under attack from Israel fighter jets, and started firing indiscriminately at anything off the coast that looked like a threat. They wanted to shoot something down, and they did — except it was a friend, not foe. They took out a Russian Ilyushin IL-20M transport category airplane. Even on the worst radar, that doesn’t look anything like an Israeli F-16.

50 miles away from where the Russian aircraft plunged into the sea on Monday night is the international airway UL620, busy with all the big name airline traffic heading for Beirut and Tel Aviv. If Syria can mistakenly shoot down a Russian ally aircraft, they can also take out your A320 as you cruise past.

And yet, most airlines continue to operate. Are we really so comfortable with operating in conflict zones again?

The lessons of MH17 seem to be fading fast. It’s a little over four years since 298 people lost their lives over Ukraine one summer afternoon, thanks to an errant missile fired during a civil war at an aircraft that they thought was a military threat. “Why were they over a war zone”, everyone cried afterwards.

Well, we all were. Me too. I was a pilot for Austrian Airlines at the time. I recall one morning in Vienna, some months before MH17. Boarding the last of the passengers, my BBC news app flashed up a story about a helicopter being shot down in eastern Ukraine .

As we were headed east, with my colleague in the cockpit, we quickly plotted the position on our enroute chart, and noted that it was really close to our route. Maybe 30 miles north. “We might see something interesting!”, we said, and pushed back. We didn’t, nor did we think much more about it.

Do you see the thought process though? Before MH17, we didn’t consider the risks to our aircraft from war zones. Especially being so high. Helicopters might be getting shot down, but we’re at 35,000 feet. No problem.

This is why all of these airlines — mine, at the time, included — operated on the route.


Image: Der Spiegel

And then it happened, and none of us could quite believe it.

But we learned. “Conflict Zone” became a buzzword. We had task forces and committees, whitepapers and promises, and — myself included — talked at length about how this happened, why, and how to avoid it in the future.

And yet, here we are flying unsuspecting passengers along the Syrian border. If you’re unsuspecting enough, and buy a SkyTeam codeshare ticket — you’ll actually overfly Syria on the Honey Badger airline of the region, Middle East Airlines.

Here we are flying passengers in the Eastern Mediterranean war zone. Why is this happening?

My guess: because we don’t think anything bad is going to happen, because the airspace boundary lines on the charts make that little bit of sea near Cyprus feel different from that little bit of sea near Syria, but mainly because there is no clear guidance from Aviation Authorities.

Let’s start with Cyprus. The Nicosia FIR has a big chunk of unsafe airspace. The Russian aircraft on Monday was shot down on the Nicosia FIR boundary. What do the Notams say? Take a look. There are 97 of them. Mostly about fireworks at local hotels. Critical stuff indeed. Then there are 20 or 30 about “Russian naval exercises”. A clue, perhaps, but where is the black and white “An Aircraft was Shot Down on our Border on Monday?” . Or, since we are still using teletype to communicate Notams to crews, “AN AIRCRAFT WAS SHOT DOWN ON OUR BORDER ON MONDAY”. Wait, we have to abbreviate that, and use codes, for some reason. “ACFT SHOT DOWN ON FIR BDY 17SEP”. That’s better.

What about Turkey? Anything on the Eastern Mediterranean risk? Let’s have a look. Nope, just 132 Bullshit Notams, and something about an AWACS aircraft. See you back here in 30 minutes when you’ve read them all.

Remember, I’m being a pilot, an airline, a dispatcher, trying to find information on the Risk in the Eastern Mediterranean. And this is how hard it is.

EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency), how are you doing? Let’s start here, at the “Information on Conflict Zones”. Paragraph 2 tells us that ICAO have a Central Repository on Conflict Zones, launched in 2015.

No, they don’t. That died — quite a long time ago. This is where it used to live. So, there is no ICAO Central Repository on Conflict Zones. There is a new ICAO document with guidance on managing Conflict Zone risk (and it’s a bloody good one, too) — but where is the picture of current risk?

Let’s plough on through the EASA site. Aha! Seems we have a Conflict Zone alerting system, and Conflict Zone bulletins. Here they all are: https://ad.easa.europa.eu/czib-docs/page-1

The last one on Syria was issued on April 17th. But it seems to be just a list of Notams issued by other states. And these are out of date. The German Notam has expired, the French AIC has been replaced.

And there’s no guidance. No Map. No routes to avoid. Nothing about Cyprus, or Beirut. No mention of the Russian shootdown. No mention of the 9 aircraft shot down this year.

How am I supposed to know, as an operator, or pilot, what the risks are and where to avoid. We’re getting closer to the point here. You’re not supposed to rely on the Aviation Authority. That is their message. You must conduct your own risk assessment. You must research and find out about the risks yourself.

You are on your own.

If you’re a big airline, that’s probably fine. You’ll make your own decisions about where to fly, anyhow. But what about everybody else?

While OpsGroup works hard to get information out to our members — and we spend a lot of time researching risk — I would greatly prefer that we didn’t have to.

Aviation Authorities must issue better guidance for the aircraft entering their areas.

Let me remind you. Airlines are operating 50 miles from a position where an airplane was shot down at night, by a missile type that’s already taken out a passenger airliner by mistake, fired by a beleaguered Syrian defence post, at a friendly aircraft that they did not take time to identify.

And the guidance to operators from Authorities: NIL.

 


 

Opsgroup has now published Note 31: Airspace Risk in the Eastern Mediterranean. There is a clear risk to civil aircraft operating on airways UL620, UW74, UR18, and UP62. In simple terms, if you find yourself planned overwater east of Cyprus, reconsider your route.

Further reading:

Europe squawks 7600 on ops in the Eastern Med

As we reported last month,  Eurocontrol published a ‘Rapid Alert Notification’ on their website regarding imminent air strikes into Syria.

“Due to the possible launch of air strikes into Syria with air-to-ground and / or cruise missiles within the next 72 hours, and the possibility of intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment, due consideration needs to be taken when planning flight operations in the Eastern Mediterranean / Nicosia FIR area.”

Around this time LCCC/Nicosia FIR released this vague (and now deleted) NOTAM:

A0454/18 – INFORMATION TO AIRSPACE USERS

THE DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL AVIATION OF THE REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS IS CONTINUOUSLY MONITORING THE GEOPOLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN THE REGION AND WILL NOTIFY THE AVIATION COMMUNITY IF AND WHEN ANY RELEVANT AN RELIABLE INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE THE DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL AVIATION IS TAKING ALL APPROPRIATE ACTION TO SAFEGUARD THE SAFETY OF FLIGHTS. 12 APR 15:25 2018 UNTIL 12 JUL 15:00 2018 ESTIMATED. CREATED: 12 APR 15:26 2018

Beyond this alert and NOTAM though; nothing else happened. A few days later, the conflict escalated.

Very few commercial flights operate over Syria, and authorities in the US, UK, France and Germany have all previously issued warnings for Syrian airspace.

But many airlines regularly transit the LCCC/Nicosia FIR: there are frequent holiday flights to the main Cypriot airports of LCLK/Larnaca and LCPH/Paphos; overflight traffic from Europe to the likes of OLBA/Beirut, OJAI/Amman and LLBG/Tel Aviv; as well as traffic from Istanbul heading south to the Gulf and beyond.

What has happened in the few weeks since then?

Normal Eurocontrol protocol is (during expected ATC strike for example) – regular teleconferences with operators, active re-routes and removal of certain overflight approval requirements. So did that happen this time? No.

Essentially just radio silence on Syria and operations in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Right now, it’s a busy place. With all the normal holiday traffic in the region, there is also a large number of military surveillance aircraft from numerous nations patrolling the region. United States assets operating from Greece and Italy. UK air power from Cyprus and the French from bases in Jordan. Add to that the normal Israeli defense air frames and even the odd Swedish gulfstream surveillance flight!  Then there are the Russians conducting aerial operations and defense exercises in and around Syria.

Cyprus has activated a litany of “temporary reserved/segregated areas” inside of Nicosia FIR.

On May 3rd, Cyprus issued this vague information, to ‘exercise caution’.

A0580/18 – NAVIGATIONAL WARNING TO ALL CONCERNED. EXTENSIVE MILITARY OPERATIONS IN NICOSIA FIR PILOTS TO EXERCISE CAUTION AND MAINTAIN CONTINUOUS RADIO CONTACT WITH NICOSIA ACC. 03 MAY 12:00 2018 UNTIL 31 MAY 23:59 2018. CREATED: 03 MAY 11:25 2018

There is also a current warning about GPS interruptions.

A0356/18 – RECENTLY, GPS SIGNAL INTERRUPTIONS HAVE BEEN REPORTED BY THE PILOTS OF THE AIRCRAFT OPERATING WITHIN SOME PARTS OF NICOSIA FIR. AIRCRAFT OPERATORS OPERATING WITHIN NICOSIA FIR ARE ADVISED TO EXERCISE CAUTION. 20 MAR 10:04 2018 UNTIL PERM. CREATED: 20 MAR 10:05 2018

It may be unfair to blame the authorities completely. At the end of the day, due to the lack of appropriate communication from the various security agencies it’s hard to get accurate information out there. Still, there was enough warning to alert civilian operators of imminent strike – but then nothing else. Shouldn’t airspace customers and users expect more?

So what to make of all this?

Let’s end it with this great 2009 (and still current) NOTAM from the Cypriots.

A0687/09 – NAVIGATION WARNING TO ALL CONCERNED.

15 SEP 09:30 2009 UNTIL PERM. CREATED: 15 SEP 09:34 2009

 

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.

US updates its Syria airspace warning

Following the US, UK and French airstrikes on Syria on April 14, the US FAA say there is now a risk posed to civil aviation within 200 nautical miles of the country due to increased military activity, GPS and comms interference, and the potential for more long range surface-to-air missiles in the area.

In the updated US FAA conflict zone Notam and Background Information for Syria, US civil aviation continues to be prohibited from operating within Syrian airspace, but has also now been instructed to “exercise caution” when operating within 200 nautical miles of Syria’s OSTT/Damascus FIR.

As they say in the Background Information doc, here’s why this updated guidance has been published:

“Heightened military activity associated with the Syrian conflict has the potential to spill over into the adjacent airspace managed by neighboring states and eastern portions of the Mediterranean Sea. Military operations may result in the risk of GPS interference, communications jamming, and errant long-range SAMs straying into adjacent airspace within 200 nautical miles of the Damascus Flight Information Region (OSTT FIR). These activities may inadvertently pose hazards to U.S. civil aviation transiting the region. This concern stems from the Syrian military response to previous airstrikes on 10 February 2018, which included Syrian forces launching long-range SAMs. Some of the Syrian SAMs flew into adjacent airspace and landed in Lebanon and Jordan, according to media reporting. GPS interference and communications jamming in the region may also occur associated with the military activity. Some U.S. air carriers have reported GPS interference in portions of the eastern Mediterranean Sea in the period following the 10 February airstrikes, and the interference may have originated from the Damascus Flight Information Region (OSTT FIR) as a defensive response.”

The US FAA haven’t provided a map to show where boundary would lie for 200 nautical miles from the border of Syrian airspace, but we think it would look something like this:

The 200 nautical mile zone would include the entire airspace of Lebanon, Jordan and Israel; half of Turkey and Iraq; and a portion of airspace over the LCCC/Nicosia FIR that covers the whole island of Cyprus!

The area may seem vast, but the possibility of further US, UK and French strikes against Syrian targets does still exist, as well as the Syrian military using surface-to-air missiles in response to any attacks.

During the airstrikes on April 14, the Syrian military reportedly used Russian-made missile systems to attempt to counter the strikes – these included missiles which have the capability to engage aircraft at altitudes well above FL900 and at ranges of around 190 miles.

While there is likely no intention to target civil aircraft, with all the missile defence activity going on in Syria and the spillover into neighbouring countries there still remains a risk of misidentification – and that’s what the 200 nautical mile warning seeks to address.

Amidst continued heavy military air presence in the region, almost all airlines are now avoiding Syrian airspace entirely. Lebanon’s Beirut based MEA has now also re-routed all of their flights to avoid Syrian Airspace (was using it post recent attacks). Only local operators Fly Damas, Charm Wing Airlines, Syrian Air and Iran’s Mahan Air continue to use the airspace.


Here’s what the Pentagon had to say about the airstrikes on April 14:

  • 105 missiles were launched in the strikes against Syria. They included 30 Tomahawk missiles fired from the USS Monterey and seven from the USS Laboon in the Red Sea. Another 23 Tomahawk missiles were launched from the USS Higgins in the North Arabian Gulf.
  • A submarine, USS John Warner, fired six Tomahawk missiles from the eastern Mediterranean and a French frigate in the same area fired another three missiles.
  • At least one US Navy warship operating in the Red Sea participated in airstrikes, as well as US B-1 bombers.
  • The air assault involved two US B-1 Lancer bombers, which fired 19 joint air to surface standoff missiles. The British flew a combination of Tornado and Typhoon jets, firing eight Storm Shadow missiles, while French Rafale and Mirage fighter jets launched nine SCALP missiles.
  • Four Royal Air Force Tornado GR4’s were used in the strikes, launching Storm Shadow missiles at a “former missile base — some 15 miles west of Homs,” according to the UK Ministry of Defense.
  • Syria fired 40 surface to air missiles ‘at nothing’ after allied air strikes destroyed three Assad chemical sites.
  • The United States remains “locked and loaded” to launch further attacks.
  • United States and Allies maintain positive posture of force in the region, especially in the air.

105 missiles launched from multiple locations in the region.
Over 40 Syrian surface to air missiles fired “at nothing”.

Further Reading:

A0454/18 – INFORMATION TO AIRSPACE USERS

THE DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL AVIATION OF THE REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS IS CONTINUOUSLY MONITORING THE GEOPOLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN THE REGION AND WILL NOTIFY THE AVIATION COMMUNITY IF AND WHEN ANY RELEVANT AN RELIABLE INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE THE DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL AVIATION IS TAKING ALL APPROPRIATE ACTION TO SAFEGUARD THE SAFETY OF FLIGHTS. 12 APR 15:25 2018 UNTIL 12 JUL 15:00 2018 ESTIMATED. CREATED: 12 APR 15:26 2018

If you have anything to share that we’ve missed, please tell us by email bulletin@fsbureau.org

European air traffic warned over Syria strikes

EASA are warning of possible air strikes into Syria being launched from locations within the LCCC/Nicosia FIR over the next 72 hours (Apr 11-14).

Eurocontrol have published a ‘Rapid Alert Notification’ on their website, with a statement from EASA that reads:

“Due to the possible launch of air strikes into Syria with air-to-ground and / or cruise missiles within the next 72 hours, and the possibility of intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment, due consideration needs to be taken when planning flight operations in the Eastern Mediterranean / Nicosia FIR area.”

Very few commercial flights operate over Syria, and authorities in the US, UK, France and Germany have all previously issued warnings for Syrian airspace.

But many airlines regularly transit the LCCC/Nicosia FIR: there are frequent holiday flights to the main Cypriot airports of LCLK/Larnaca and LCPH/Paphos; overflight traffic from Europe to the likes of OLBA/Beirut, OJAI/Amman and LLBG/Tel Aviv; as well as traffic from Istanbul heading south to the Gulf and beyond.

Last year, two US warships in the eastern Mediterranean fired missiles at an air base in Syria after a chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime killed more than 80 people.

This week, following another suspected chemical attack by the Syrian government against civilians in a rebel-held town in Syria, the US President Donald Trump warned there would be a “forceful” response. On Apr 11, he took to Twitter to warn Russia to prepare for strike on Syria:

For the airstrikes on Syria last year, the US gave Russia advance warning of the attack, and Russian forces opted not to attempt to shoot down the missiles using its air defence systems stationed in the region.

However, this time round things could be very different. This week, Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon reminded the US that the head of the Russian military has said his forces in Syria would not only shoot down any missiles that threatened them but would target the source of the weapons as well.

The only US warship currently in the Mediterranean and capable of a possible strike is the USS Donald Cook, which left port in Larnaca and started to patrol in vicinity of Syria on Apr 9. According to some reports, it has since weighed anchor off Syrian territorial waters, and has been “buzzed” by low-flying Russian military jets.

Another 3 warships of the Sixth Fleet are already in the Atlantic Ocean, and on Apr 11 the entire US Truman Fleet (including an aircraft carrier, 6 destroyers, and nearly 6,500 sailors) departed Norfolk, Virginia, to head to the Mediterranean Sea. However, it may take up to a week for any of these warships to arrive.

Here’s an overview of US and coalition forces’ military options currently thought to be on offer in the eastern Mediterranean:

With the downing of MH17 by a surface-to-air missile over Ukraine in 2014, as well as all the recent unannounced missile tests by North Korea, there has been increased focus by the aviation community on the risks posed by conflict zones. If any missiles are launched from the Eastern Mediterranean in the next few days, be prepared for possible last-minute reroutes, as any Notams that get published may not give much warning.

Further reading:

One of our biggest missions in OPSGROUP is to share risk information and keep operators aware of the current threat picture. Check out Safeairspace for the most up-to-date information on airspace safety around the world.

Tel Aviv Airport closes as a precaution against attack

LLBG/Tel-aviv: Israel’s main airport briefly suspended operations on Feb 10, due to military clashes along the northern border with Syria.

Two Israeli pilots were forced to abandon their F-16 jet, which crashed near the border after being hit by a Syrian anti-aircraft missile. The jet was on a mission in which it struck an Iranian facility in Syria that had previously operated a drone which Israel shot down over its territory.

This resulted in all flights from LLBG/Tel-aviv Airport being grounded for around an hour starting at 9am local time, as a precaution against any further attacks. The airport is considered a strategic location that could be targeted during military conflict.

Here’s what Israel’s PM had to say about it:

This incident marks the most significant engagement by Israel in the fighting that has been taking place in neighbouring Syria since 2011. Israel has mostly stayed out of the conflict so far, but has recently become more concerned about the increased Iranian presence along its border.

International Bulletin: Hong Kong pain in the ass, Haiti relief operations

Hong Kong is a pain in the ass – it’s official 20OCT Authorities in Hong Kong confirmed yesterday that the airport is a giant pain, especially for non-scheduled operators. Lining up slots, parking, permits and handling is extremely difficult. End result: a mountain of frustration. Read the article.

Haiti relief operations – and Airbus Flight 101 20OCT After Hurricane Matthew last week, MTPP/Port-au-Prince (Toussaint Louverture) became a central focus in relief efforts for Haiti. OpsGroup member Airbus operated an amazing relief flight from Lyon. Read the article.


VTZZ/Thailand is in a period of mourning following the death of His Majesty, King Bhumibol on 13 October. This is a time of deep sorrow for Thai people – refrain from any behaviour that may be interpreted as festive, disrespectful or disorderly. Abide by local laws and respect Thai customs. There may be some disruption of commercial and public services during the mourning period, especially during the first 30 days (until 13 November). Tourist attractions are open with the exception of Wat Pra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the Grand Palace in Bangkok. Expect traffic disruptions and heightened security around these areas as people pay their respects to the late King.

EBBR/Brussels All non-scheduled flights destined to EBBR are allowed only after special permission by Airport Authority before start of flight. Contact +32 2 7536900 or inspect@brusselsairport.be.

DTZZ/Tunisia extended the state of emergency on 18OCT, set to expire, by three months. The state of emergency went into effect following a series of terrorist attacks in 2015 and has been extended multiple times.

ORBB/Baghdad FIR Traffic entering from Baghdad FIR (ORBB) to Ankara FIR (LTAA) shall file their FPL as follows: NINVA-OTKEP-SRT at FL320 and above. NOTAM A4572/16 refers.

Solomon Islands There has been a confirmed outbreak of dengue fever in the capital city, Honiara; you should follow the advice of the local authorities and take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes; you should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling to the Solomon Islands

TXKF/Bermuda Due to maintenance, the Bermuda Radar system will be out of service on Friday. Recommended reroute to avoid airspace. New York Center overflight procedures will be in effect. Routes have been developed to provide limited non-radar service within the airspace. All departures from Bermuda will be held down at FL310.

OJAI/Amman, Jordan Runway 26L/08R will be closed for urgent pavement maintenance on these days in November:  01,08,15,22,29: from 0930-1330Z. The airport will not be available for either normal operations or emergency diverts during the closure period.

OEZZ/Saudi Arabia From 8 to 10 October there were several missile attacks reported near the Saudi / Yemeni border and the southern Red Sea.

ZZZZ/Worldwide Regulatory and voluntary bans on Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphones is spreading as airlines and airport authorities around the world are announcing bans or restricted usage on the device, which has been withdrawn by Samsung after some devices caught fire. Ban notices are being issued primarily through airline online check-in pages, as well as via public announcements in airport terminals and onboard aircraft. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) was first to issue a total ban on taking the device on board, as a passenger or as air cargo, when it gave an emergency order Oct. 15 with FAA.The devices are being banned because of fire concerns, and the fallout following an incident involving a smoking smartphone on board a Southwest Airlines aircraft in Louisville, Kentucky on Oct. 5.

YZZZ/Australia will not be implementing the changes in the ICAO PANS-ATM (Doc 4444), as they say they haven’t had enough time to work on the safety case – ie. figuring out if these changes are dangerous in any way. In short, they won’t be saying “Climb via SID” or “Climb via STAR”, which are the new phraseologies.

TTZP/Piarco wins the award for most confusing AIC of the week, namely AIC03/16 issued on 13OCT. Titled “RVSM Implementation”, it appears that Trinidad is finally implementing RVSM in their airspace. But wait, they did that in 2005. So what’s new in this AIC? It’s a mystery. Take a look and see if you can spot it.

KLAX/Los Angeles 3 out of the 4 runways at KLAX have now been renovated. Runway 6R/24L reopened on 16OCT after renovations. Improvements to the fourth and final runway, 07L/25R, will begin OCT22 and continue until June 2017. This last runway will be partially closed until January, and then closed completely to allow for more extensive work to be done

FSIA/Seychelles Runway will be closed on Thursday 20 and 27 Oct between 1815-0245z and Friday 21 and 28 Oct between 1900-0215z. Can be opened in cases of emergency.

UHPP/Petropavlovsk Eruption in progress at Klyuchevskoy volcano (N5603E16038) near UHPP. Ash cloud reported at 0720z on 17 Oct from ground level up to FL300.

VVZZ/Vietnam Typhoon Sarika is forecast to bring hazardous sea and weather conditions to parts of northern Vietnam from around 19 October 2016; heavy rainfall could lead to flooding and landslides

KLAS/Las Vegas Because of the next presidential debate that will be held in Las Vegas on October 19, 2016, intermittent road closures will affect access to McCarran International Airport (LAS) between 4 pm and 10 pm on that date. The recommended route to the airport from the east side of the valley is westbound Flamingo Road to southbound Paradise Road. The recommended route to the airport from the west side of the valley is eastbound Tropicana Avenue to southbound Paradise Road.

OIIX/Tehran FIR The minimum safe level on R462 between DENDA and METBI has been raised to FL140.

KSFO/San Francisco has a new ATC Tower operational since Sunday last, located between Terminals 1 and 2. Per the local report, it “offers controllers a 650-square-foot work area with unobstructed 235-degree views of the airport’s runways and taxiways”. Hopefully there’s not much going on in the other 125 degrees.

OSZZ/Syria Russia’s only aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, is nearing the end of a work-up period outside the port of Murmansk before heading for the eastern Mediterranean, reportedly to begin air operations against targets in Syria.

EGPK/Prestwick will be closed from midnight to 0400Z on 21OCT, due to a planned ATC power outage. ATC reachable during outage at +447917 424603.

RPZZ/Philippines Typhoon Sarika recently passed through the island of Luzon as a category 4 storm. Transportation routes, power and telecommunications systems could be affected in some areas. Other services that may be affected in these areas include emergency and medical care, as well as water and food supplies. If travelling to affected areas, exercise caution, monitor local news and weather reports, and follow the advice of local authorities.

View full International Bulletin 20OCT2016 

Unsafe Airspace – a summary

With the events surrounding the shootdown of MAS17, risk assessment of potentially unsafe airspace has given far greater weighting to the situation on the ground. Access to reliable information to determine the ever-changing risk level, is by nature of it’s inherent uncertainty, challenging.

Today we published International Ops Notice 02/16 – “Unsafe Airspace”.

Three levels of airspace risk are used in our assessment.

  • LEVEL 1. Moderate risk – No Fly
  • LEVEL 2. Assessed risk
  • LEVEL 3. Caution

The countries that issue the most relevant updates for unsafe airspace are:  The US (FAA) – through FDC Notams and SFARs, the UK (NATS) – AIP and Notam, Germany (DFS) – Notam, France (DGAC)- AIC. In general, the Civil Aviation Authorities of the countries whose airspace is determined to be unsafe are unlikely to issue reliable guidance.

Five countries are currently included in the LEVEL 1 – Moderate Risk category: Libya, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, and Yemen.

The basis for inclusion is the highly unstable current events on the ground, and in all cases the ground factions having access to RPG’s, Surface-Air missiles. We strongly recommend avoiding this airspace entirely. All countries have multiple warnings, and your country of registry is likely to have issued specific instructions not to penetrate these airspaces.

Download the full notice.

References:

ION0216 Shot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

International Ops Bulletin
Get our weekly Ops Bulletin on changes and dangers: Airport closures, Security issues, ATC restrictions, Airspace changes, and New Charts
Sent to you every Wednesday
Thanks, I'm already a reader.