International Ops 2018

Flight Service Bureau | OPSGROUP

Month: August 2016 (page 1 of 2)

Midweek Briefing: End of Canada Leniency, Two hurricanes inbound Hawaii

End of Canada Leniency 31AUG Earlier this year Canada introduced a requirement for an eTA – like the US Esta. For a while, it was OK to travel without one. That’s ending in September … Read the article

Two hurricanes inbound Hawaii 31AUG Madeline is first, followed by Lester – both are tracking west towards Hawaii with landfall expected – should it occur – on Wednesday and Thursday. Read the article

LTCC/Diyarbakir, Turkey Kurdish militants fired rockets at Diyarbakir Airport in southeastern Turkey. The militants reportedly targeted a security check-point outside the airport lounge. All personnel were taken inside terminal building for safety reasons. No flights were disrupted, and there were no reports of casualties.

EHAM/Amsterdam It’s that time of year again, watch out for the migrating geese in Amsterdam at sunrise and sunset. They operate between 300 and 700ft without transponder.

VVVV/Hanoi FIR If you’re cutting a line through the Hanoi FIR on the W1 airway, you’ll be held down at FL290 unless you have RNAV5. ATC says so.

DNZZ/Nigeria Members of aviation unions staged rallies at four major airports in Nigeria to protest the planned concession of the facilities to private investors. Protests occurred at Abuja (DNAA/ABV), Kano (DNKN/KAN), Lagos (DNMM/LOS) and Port Harcourt. So far, the protests have not disrupted ops. Lagos has been suffering from some power outages lately as well.

SOCA/Cayenne, French Guyana has staff shortages, and from September 1st will not accept any diversions unless in an emergency. Do not plan SOCA as an enroute alternate. If inbound, with an ETA for SOCA 0200-1100Z, you need to call for an arrival slot. If you need it, ATC phone is +594 594 35 9372 or 9302.

OIZZ/Iran has approved the use of its airbases by Russian fighter aircraft; Russia has notified intention to launch missiles in the direction of Syria from the Caspian Sea fleet. The Russian Air Force has deployed six Tu-23M3 BACKFIRE bomber aircraft and multiple Su-34 FULLBACK strike fighter jets to Hamedan Air Base (OIHS/NUJ).

ORBB/Baghdad FIR/Iraq The Iraqi government has given permission to the Russian MoD to use its airspace in support of air operations in Syria. Russian media outlets are also reporting the Russian MoD has requested use of the FIR for the “passage of cruise missiles” as well, highlighting the potential for such activity to occur in the coming days from the airspace over the Caspian Sea.

LTZZ/Turkey Russia has lifted it’s ban on charter flights to Turkey.

HAZZ/Ethiopia Reports indicate that flights to HAGN/Gondar (GDQ) and HABD/Bahar Dar (BJR) have been indefinitely suspended. The suspension of flights comes amid ongoing unrest in Gondar and Bahir Dar, as well as in other cities in the Amhara and Oromia regions, over the marginalization of ethnic groups by the Tigray-dominated Ethiopian People’s Democratic Front (EPRDF) regime. Ethiopian government officials have not commented on the cancellation of flights to those cities or international flights to Addis Ababa, which has not been largely affected by the unabated unrest occurring in outlying regions.

WSSS/Singapore air quality has deteriorated to a Pollution Standards Index (PSI) of 105, due to the cross-border haze from Indonesian slash-and-burn fires. The agricultural practice, during which farmers burn a patch of land in order to clear land for new crops, creates haze, which then drifts through the region. Experts believe the level of pollution — which in 2015 cost the region more than 700 million US dollars in damage and severely disrupted the aviation sector — will be lower in 2016 due to a rainy dry season.

NFNA/Suva, Fiji is closed during September for runway repairs. Available wirh 30 mins PN in an emergency. Call them on 9906102.

SUEO/Montevidedo Air Traffic Controllers strike until end of September, closures and departure restrictions in place. Info is sketchy, got some updates? Let us know …

View full International Bulletin 31AUG2016

Two hurricanes inbound Hawaii

Madeline is first, followed by Lester – both are tracking west towards Hawaii with landfall expected – should it occur – on Wednesday and Thursday.

Monitor :

Midweek Briefing: Where is Zika, Elevated North Korea Risk

Where is Zika? 24AUG With the again-increasing levels of Zika infection worldwide, this updated map will be useful to operators. Check Zika Map.

North Korean Risk Elevated 24AUG We’ve published an updated Unsafe Airspace Summary today, which elevates North Korea to Level 2 in our warning list. In 2016, there have been increased instances of medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) launches without prior warning. Read the article

DIAP/Ivory Coast issued a Notam last Friday advising of ‘serious risks to safety’ when operating through the Tripoli FIR. Not many operators are entering this airspace, but it’s unusual for a non-adjoining country to issue advice like this, so we’ll mention it.

SPZO/Cuzco, Peru is busy at the moment; non-scheduled and GA flights cannot park overnight, and there are Traffic Management procedures inbound. Don’t forget if operating to Cuzco that special crew training is required.

WADD/Bali Authorities have stepped up security measures at all the entry points on the island, following recent reports of an alleged plot to carry out attacks.

HKNW/Nairobi WIlson is operating normally again after a Police helicopter crashed on take off on Monday, near the control tower.

LLZZ/Israel Israeli aircraft attacked mortar positions in southwestern Syria near the border with the Golan Heights on 22AUG. The airstrikes were apparently in response to mortar fire from the Syrian side of the border.

RJAA/Tokyo Narita is open again after the passage of Typhoon Mindulle. The control tower at Narita was evacuated due to strong winds, the first time this has happened since the 9.0 earthquake in March 2011.

WIZZ/Indonesia has warned its neighbours that haze from forest fires is beginning to cross the Malacca Strait. In 2015 the smog affected Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, causing disruptions throughout the region, closing airports and delaying flights.

EDDT/Berlin Tegel Aircraft larger than ICAO Code D, and parking longer than 3 hours, approval of Traffic Management is required. Contact, in place until 30Sep.

VEZZ/India Couple of new ICAO codes here, VASD is Shirdi Airport, and VEPY is Pakyong Airport. AFTN connections not yet set up.

LBPD/Plovdiv Reports of lasers directed at departing aircraft. Notify ATC with any details if experienced.

FOZZ/Gabon If you’re arriving into Libreville International Airport you can submit an online visa application at least 72 hours before the date of travel and collect your visa on arrival

BGTL/Thule Updated hours for Radar service – 1100-1900Z Mon-Fri only.

NTAA/Tahiti has a bunch of night-time closures until 03SEP; this is an isolated aerodrome so check carefully in advance of ops.

NWWW/Noumea has ongoing staff shortages in ATC, and therefore interruptions in opening hours for the airport. Check before operating.

VDZZ/Cambodia has introduced a new tourism and business multiple-entry visa, which will allow foreigners to stay in the country for up to three years. The visa will become available on 1 September. The current visa grants visitors a 14-to-31-day stay.

LCLK/Larnaca New ATC Controllers being trained (under supervision)—be nice to them!

FMMM/Antananarivo has a new disinsection procedure for flights arriving from Mauritius; also, all flights from Mauritius must operate to FMMM first before other airports in Madagascar.

HCSM/Mogadishu Due to HF Difficulties, all aircraft in Mogadishu FIR with Satcom are requested to contact Mogadishu FIC on Satcom.  Inmarsat 46601, phones +251-20-762274 or +254-20-2365679.

View the full International Bulletin 24AUG2016

North Korea risk elevated

24AUG: We’ve published an updated Unsafe Airspace Summary today, No. 04/16, which elevates North Korea to Level 2 in our warning list. In 2016, there have been increased instances of No Dong and No Dong-2 medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) launches without prior warning.

On 18th August, France published AIC 20/16 updating their picture of overflight risk worldwide – and for the first time, included North Korea.

Flight Service Bureau’s updated Unsafe Airspace Summary is valid 24AUG16. Future updates will be made through OPSGROUP.


Where is Zika? Here’s a map

We just came across this – and it’s a very useful, current map, of where the Zika virus has been  found. A few weeks back, we reported that Zika was on the decline, thanks to winter in South America and a declining mosquito population. Turns out, that optimism was premature.

This map shows where Zika is, as of 19 August 2016.

 Sporadic transmission: No more than 10 locally transmitted cases have been reported in a single area within this time period.

 Increasing or widespread transmission: More than 10 locally transmitted cases of Zika virus are reported in a single area, OR at least two separate areas report locally transmitted cases of Zika virus, OR Zika virus transmission is ongoing in an area for more than 3 months.

 Past transmission: Local Zika virus transmission has been reported since 2007 – but not in the past three months.



What is OPS GROUP, exactly?

Yes, it’s the most common question we get. What is OPS GROUP ? Well, we’re not exactly sure yet. The question mark may well be part of the name, because to us it represents both a lack of constraints and limitless possibility. A beginners mind.

The energy within the group has astounded us. The OPS GROUP team has answered over 200 questions from members, but that engagement is not what surprised us. When we put questions back to the group ( in the form of curated Members Questions), the willingness to help, share and assist others is what did.

So, what we’re seeing is that amazing things happen when you connect similar, but different, people. In the Industry, we have great groups for Airlines (IATA, and our own Airline Cooperative), Business Aviation (NBAA), ATC (CANSO), Private Aviation ( AOPA). But they all combine like with like.

Like the best relationships,  matching with a little bit different is far more interesting.

OPS GROUP – sticking with the big letters – brings everyone together in INTL FLT OPS. We all share the same airspace and go to the same airports. We all struggle to stay up to date, find most Notams confusing, hate having to organise permits, and wonder what will be next to change on the North Atlantic. Ask us to go somewhere new, and watch the stress levels rise.

What happens when

And so we have a weird and wonderful group. The all-alone Corporate dispatcher, the overworked B777 F/O, the midnight supervisor at Eurocontrol, the grumpy Airline Dispatcher (yes Eric, that’s you), the permanently-airborne G4 driver, the Airbus ops team, and of course the Boeing guys and girls, the Irish ATC supervisor, the German Airline COO, the Russian CAA guy, the Australian meteorologist, and many hundreds more. Fast approaching 1000 members, in fact – and therefore becoming more useful for everyone. Literally hundreds of experts within the group.

When we started, we thought that OPS GROUP would just be a collection of people that wanted updates on International Ops from our Flight Service Bureau. We still run our now famous bulletin every Wednesday, and our Lowdowns, Ops Notices, Alerts, and Special Briefings – but the group is becoming huge amounts more than just receivers of information.

Personally, I think the key value of the group is it allows each one of us to feel more connected to International Flight Ops. Realising that there are hundreds of others in the same position that appreciate both your question and the group answer.

So, if I could try to best summarise OPS GROUP right now – it’s a secure environment where you’ll be ahead of the relentless changes in International Flight Ops, you’ll directly receive all FSB summaries of the big changes, can get answers from the team or the entire group for that troublesome ops question. You also get to feel really good when you share new information with the others, and answer the question that you’re an expert on.

But really, we’re still not quite sure what OPS GROUP is. Maybe when we pass 2000 members it will become clearer. Let’s see.

More about OPS GROUP:


Aden Airport reopens

Aden Airport in Yemen (OYAA) is open to traffic once again following a closure caused by intensified Saudi Coalition activity. The airport has been intermittently closed during the conflict, which began in March 2015.

Except for some specific agencies – the UN, Red Cross, and MSF, any flights operating to Yemen must first land at Bisha (OEBH) in Saudi Arabia for an inspection – in accordance with the UN arms embargo in place. Further, all flights must coordinate with the Saudi Coalition before operating.

North Korean Missile Threat

Update: FSB removed North Korea warnings on May 14, 2018

In the past, when the DPRK (North Korea) has planned a missile launch, airlines and aircraft operators have, as a rule, been informed of the details through a warning from the DPRK to ICAO. Of concern to airspace users now, is the fact that the most recent launches this month were not notified in advance.

The two most common airways through DPRK airspace, G711 and B467, as depicted on the chart below, are in regular use by International Operators.  The increased frequency of ballistic launches of late, coupled with the failure to notify, has created heightened concern.

Further, GPS signal jamming close to the South Korean border, has led to over 1000 individual reports from operators in 14 different countries since May.

A number of airlines and operators have already made a blanket decision not to enter the Pyongyang FIR, even for that overwater portion on G711 and B467.







Intercept Avoidance and Missile Evasion

One of our OPSGROUP members, James Albright, has kindly provided us with this informative piece on Intercept Avoidance and Missile Evasion. James will be familiar to many of you as the author of the amazing – an endless archive of useful information for the International Pilot. James has also published several books, which are available on Amazon.


  • Intelligence. The best way to avoid being intercepted, fired upon, and shot down is to avoid areas where they do that sort of thing in the first place. Unfortunately, the list of “bad actors” is increasing and ever changing. It really pays to have someone on your payroll who keeps track of this in real time. I use the Flight Service Bureau ( They send emails, almost on a daily basis, letting you know where the trouble spots are (subscribe via OPSGROUP). ( The “trouble” can be more than just a country throwing missiles into air routes, it can include volcano eruptions, ATC strikes, or anything else that would ruin your flight in international airspace.)
  • Fly Common Well-Traveled Routings. There are some countries in the world where flying off airways can get you in big trouble. Just because a country’s ATC gives you direct to your destination doesn’t mean the country’s air force will be informed that you mean no offense to anyone. Consult your aeronautical information publications to be sure. But when in doubt, stick to the roads most frequently travelled.
  • Stay on Course. Once en route, keep the navigation needles centered. There is a school of thought that preaches using a Strategic Lateral Offset Procedure (SLOP) in domestic airspace in countries where some of the air traffic may not always be at the correct altitude. Very few countries permit SLOP in non-oceanic or remote airspace.
  • Light Up, Squawk, Transmit. Let everyone know you are a civilian, unarmed, passenger or cargo carrying aircraft – not a spy plane. Fly with as many lights as your aircraft permits without performance limitations. Squawk the appropriate ATC code. Clearly annunciate your call sign to make it clear you are a civilian aircraft. If you have a company assigned call sign that sounds hostile (Killer 21, for example), change it to your registration number. (Make sure your Mode-S and data link agree.)
  • Monitor Guard. Very few countries require you to monitor a guard frequency except when flying oceanic. An interceptor, however, is taught to try that frequency first. It is a good idea to monitor guard frequency anywhere in the world where there is even the slightest chance you might be intercepted.
    • 121.5 MHz – this frequency is ‘guarded’ by many ATC stations and many military aircraft, in some countries it can be given other names, such as the “Distress and Diversion” frequency.
    • 243.0 MHz – this frequency is ‘guarded’ by many ATC stations and many military aircraft

It has been said that firing an AIM 9 Sidewinder missile at an airplane is the same thing as saying “I wish you were dead” because it was almost a certain kill. But nothing is 100% certain and if you find yourself with a missile headed your way, you do have a few options.

A fighter pilot friend of mine elaborates . . .

Interesting Q regarding a missile defense on a transport jet. To be blunt, there’s very little a pilot can do flying a limited maneuvering jet against a Mach 3+ missile that can make 22G+ turns. With that said, there are 2 schools of thought, try to out run/out maneuver or take the hit from a stable platform. First some academics . . .

Missiles from the surface or aerial adversary are generally one of two types, radar or optical guided. Optical can be of various sorts but most are tracking a heat source (engine exhaust if behind, skin friction if in front). Heat seeking missiles are typically smaller, accelerate faster and are harder to see. Radar guided missiles are typically larger leaving a larger smoke trail and many have booster section that jettisons just before a 2nd stage motor fires.

Time of Flight (TOF) for heat seeking missiles are usually shorter than radar guided. Unless a pilot can recognize the missile trajectory, booted phases, smoke trail, etc, it is common practice to be in idle to minimize heat signature (assume the missile is heat seeking). Otherwise, keep the power at max to minimize airspeed loss if maneuvering to avoid a stall.

Back to the 2 schools of thought, maneuvering can possibly generate an acceptable miss distance to reduce the missile’s selective probability of kill (Pk). Downsides are overspending or overstressing your aircraft (over-G). If the missile does impact causing damage, having excessive speeds or G-loading may exacerbate aircra damage from the missile. A slower and stable (wings level) platform would likely absorb the e ects of damage better from the missile impact. Ultimately, it comes down to the pilot’s assessment of the situation. Basically, if a missile is fired with a short TOF (<10 sec) and it appears out maneuvering is very unlikely, it would be best to stay stable, in idle power and ~5 degrees nose down.

Otherwise . . . A pilot attempting to out-maneuver a missile must respect the aircraft’s limits, mostly airspeed and G-loading (i.e. take it to the edge but not past). When an air-to-air missile is fired from a great distance, the easiest way to recognize it are contrails that appear to be arcing in the horizon. All missile shots at range typically loft and will make contrails. Surface-to-air missiles tend to be shot inside their max range to reduce TOF and detection. The first thought a crew member may have is “Holy cow, is this country launching a rocket into space?”

To me, the SA-2/SA-3 looked just like a Space Shuttle launch (seen both in person). The good news is there is time; their TOFs can range from 30-90 seconds. There are several types of guidance modes for radar missiles. Most common are command guided, proportional or semi-proportional and appear to track differently on your windscreen. To keep it simple, lets describe a trajectory like skeet or trap shooting. Most guided missiles will initially aim for where you are flying and “meet halfway.” In all cases, how a pilot maneuvers can greatly reduce the missile’s energy.


Missile Avoid

Lets describe a scenario. If you see a missile fired at you from RIGHT 2 o’clock, position, it will be aiming for an intercept ahead of you of your nose.

To deplete the missile’s energy, make a hard RIGHT turn past it and put it at your LEFT 9:00-10:00, roll out then descend ~15 deg with idle power. It will force the missile to turn harder (b/c it’s going so damn fast), correct it’s intercept point and deplete energy (watch out for your overspeed). After you see the missile correct it’s course, reverse hard LEFT turn to put the missile back at your RIGHT 2:00-3:00 position and roll out with full power and ~5-deg climb (watch out for over-G).

Again the missile must make a correction. These maneuvers can be accomplished at level flight but adding the 3rd dimension of alternating descent and climbs (at any +/- pitch) will add to the missile intercept problem.

Maneuvering properly and assuming a long missile TOF, you may see the missile stall before impact (best case) or the missile avoiding impact during its final turn correction (less than best case). Keep in mind, most missiles have proximity fusing. They are smart enough to detonate at the closest point of intercept if the missile determines impact is impossible. So if you feel impact (or near miss) is imminent, strive to return to wings level and ~5-deg nose low.

Turning into the missile will be a hard thing to do if you’ve never done this for a living (like Chris) and you are likely to be frozen with shock for a while. But you need to do it. Using the maximum G your airplane has available will do two things for you: it will force the missile to make the largest correction and it will bleed o your cruise speed. Once the missile is on your opposite side reverse the turn.

Because you will have lost some speed your turn radius will be tighter but the missile will be closer, so once again apply maximum G. For this turn, keep an eye on your angle of attack. Most aircraft will have a maximum lift-to-drag ratio at 0.30 angle of attack and this is a good number to shoot for. You can also look at airspeed (if you have a instantaneous VREF readout, use that) but keep in mind your stall speed goes up with G-force. Your objective is to end this maneuver as slow as the airplane can fly with adequate controllability. So if all this maneuvering failed to shake the missile, you will be in the best condition to survive a missile impact and/or detonation.
[Chris Didier, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF – Retired F-15E Instructor Pilot, interview 6 August 2016]



Elevated Warning for Kenyan Airspace

We have changed our guidance for Kenya from Level 3 – Caution; to Level 2 – Assessed Risk. Flight Service Bureau publishes a regularly updated guide to Unsafe Airspace for Airlines and Aircraft Operators.

Until today, the only Airspace warning for Kenya had been the FAA KCIZ NOTAM 05/2016, but a NOTAM issued today by the UK Department for Transport has now added Kenya to the list of countries with guidance. Coupled with Al Shabaab airstrikes by the Kenyan Air Force 2 days ago, and increasing numbers of attacks by the group, the situation may be growing increasingly unstable.

We recommend all operators to monitor events closely.

Updated guidance material August 12th:

World Overflight Security Map


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