International Ops 2018

Flight Service Bureau | OPSGROUP

Author: Dean Constantinidis

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

ICAO Raises Weight Threshold for Hardened Cockpit Door Requirement

In Short: Following a three-year effort from industry groups and aircraft manufacturers, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will raise the weight threshold for requiring hardened cockpit doors for aircraft with 19 or fewer passenger seats from 45.5 metric tons (100,310 pounds) maximum certificated takeoff weight to 54.5 metric tons (120,152 pounds).

This decision will enable the full type certification and worldwide use of current and future extended-range business aircraft such as the Bombardier Global 7000 and Gulfstream G650ER.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has changed its weight rules regarding strengthened cockpit doors on business jets. Toughened doors are required for aircraft operating charter flights.

Previous rules stated that hardened doors were needed for business jets with 19 seats or fewer, with a maximum take-off weight of 100,310lbs (45.5T). The new rules increase the maximum take-off weight to 120,152lbs (54.5T).

“This change maintains the security level intended by the original hardened cockpit door requirement, but recognizes the important distinction between airline service and business aircraft operations,” said Sarah Wolf, CAM, NBAA senior manager of security and facilitation.

The International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), in concert with the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations and aircraft manufacturers, proposed the changes to Annex 6 Part 1 – International Commercial Air Transport.

“The effort took much planning and working through the full standard-making process at ICAO and shows ICAO recognition of greater operational capabilities and industry evolution,” said IBAC Director General Kurt Edwards.

The new standard will become effective Jul 16, 2018, and applicable to member states in Nov 2018.

Qatar airspace update – military jets intercepting civil flights

In short: The situation is volatile and constantly changing, even by the hour. Military interception has been reported so the best advice is to be vigilant with sticking to assigned routes for all operations around the region.

The airspace blockade of Qatar has been ongoing since June 2017 with little end in sight.

But over the past few months, tensions have been escalating;

Here is the latest operational information we have:

A reminder that Qatar does not have its own FIR. It sits entirely within the Bahrain FIR- you will find Qatar airspace NOTAMs under OBBB. The Doha TMA extends SFC to FL245. Above this sits the Bahrain UIR.

Bahrain and Egypt have relaxed some of their initial restrictions. Saudi and UAE have not.

The current state of play as of 6 April 2018.

CountryNon-QATAR registeredQATAR registered
Egypt (HECC) No NOTAM'd restrictions.No NOTAM'd restrictions.

(NOTAM A0032/18)
Temporary RNAV5 ATS Route T565 established between RASDA-GESAD-RAMKU, FL300-310 for Qatar registered aircraft flights between Beirut and North African Airports.
Bahrain (OBBB)(NOTAM A0204/17)
No flights allowed between Kingdom of Bahrain and State of Qatar and vice-versa.


Multiple restrictions for STATE (and Military) aircraft transiting Bahrain airspace to avoid overflying Qatar. Some operations approved over Qatar but prior approval required. See NOTAMs.

(NOTAM A0219/17)
Operators not registered in Kingdom of Bahrain intending to operate non-scheduled flights or charter flights including private flights, cargo and passenger from or to the State of Qatar via Bahrain airspace shall obtain approval from the Bahrain CAA by providing a copy of detailed manifest of the flight including passenger names at least 24 hours prior to departure to:

Email: schedule@mtt.gov.bh
Ph: +97317329035 or +97317329096
(NOTAM A204/17)
No flights allowed between Kingdom of Bahrain and State of Qatar.


(NOTAM A0219/17) All flights registered in the State of Qatar are not authorized to overfly Bahrain airspace.

*except*

(NOTAM A0220/17)
All routes within Bahrain FIR are available for Flights affected by NOTAM A0219/17, except airways that fall within the Bahrain airspace (over the island of Bahrain).
Saudi Arabia (OEJD)(NOTAM A0596/17)
All NON-Saudi or NON-Qatari registered aircraft intending to use Saudi Airspace to/from Qatar Airports shall coordinate with General authority of Civil Aviation within one-week to obtain permission.

Email: special@gaca.gov.sa
Ph: +966115253336

It appears this does not apply if you are simply overflying Qatar.
(NOTAM A0592+593/17)
All overflights and landing authorizations revoked UFN.
UAE (OMAE)(NOTAM A0848/17) Operators not registered in UAE intending to operate non-scheduled flights or charter including private flights, cargo and passenger from or to the state of Qatar via UAE airspace shall obtain approval from the GCAA aviation security affairs by providing a detailed manifest of the flight including passengers names at least 24 hours prior to departure to:

Email: avsec-di@gcaa.gov.ae
Ph: +971 50 642 4911

This seems to include overflights over UAE bound to Qatar.
Not authorized to overfly UAE airspace, depart or land at UAE aerodromes.

There is however a temporary RNAV1 ATS Route T665 from DAPER DCT KUSBA DCT RORON DCT OVONA (FL220-400) open to Qatari registered aircraft for flights inbound to Qatar. (NOTAM A0459/18)
Kuwait (OKAC)No NOTAM'd restrictionsNo NOTAM'd restrictions
Iran (OIIX)No restrictions.

(NOTAM A0636/18)
There is however an AIP SUP that includes a comprehensive "standard and mandatory traffic orientation scheme" for flights operating into Bahrain FIR bound for Qatar airports.

AIP SUP 03/18
No restrictions however several additional routes have been made available to facilitate movement from Muscat FIR to Qatar. See OOMM & OIIX NOTAMs.
Expect level constraints.

Traffic Orientation Scheme as per AIP SUP 03/18 applies.
Yemen (OYSC)No NOTAM'd restrictions.

See safe airspace map - there is ongoing conflict in the region. FSB Risk Level One - DO NOT FLY. We strongly recommend avoiding this airspace entirely.
Saudi NOTAM A0604/17 purports to be a NOTAM "On behalf of Republic of Yemen/Aden."
"All aircraft registered in the State of Qatar not authorized to overfly Republic of Yemen airspace.
Although it appears Qatar aircraft are not strictly adhering to this. No such NOTAM issued by OYSC FIR.

See safe airspace map - there is ongoing conflict in the region. FSB Risk Level One - DO NOT FLY. We strongly recommend avoiding this airspace entirely.

 

_________________________________________________________________________

Have you been through the region recently? Can you provide an update?

Extra Reading:

Some fascinating reporting about what this whole blockade is all about.

  • How a ransom for Royal falconers reshaped the Middle East” – New York Times
  • What the falcons up with Qatar?” – NPR Podcast

 

Ongoing Bali volcanic threat – update

In Short: Continued vigilance required for operations to Bali; The alert level for Mt Agung eruption remains at 3 (on a scale of 1-4). Last ash plume on 26 March rose to at least an altitude of 11,650 ft.

When Mount Agung erupted in November 2017, airlines faced travel chaos as flights were cancelled due to the lingering ash cloud. Since then, visitor arrivals have dropped by more than 70 percent. Facing $1bn in lost tourist revenue, the Indonesian government is trying to lure tourists back to the holiday island.

The 3,000metre high volcano sits roughly 70 kilometres away from the tropical paradise’s main airport and popular tourist areas.

In a Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA), Volcanological Survey of Indonesia (PVMBG) reported that at 1009 on 26 March an event at Agung generated an ash plume that rose at least to an altitude of 3.6 km (11,650 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NW. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-4) and the exclusion zone continued at a 4-km radius.

Best up-to-date information:

The current one to watch:

Mount Sinabung – located in Medan, Indonesia is also very active at the moment (last spewing ash on Friday April 6) and may disrupt air operations to Malaysia and Singapore.

Current Aviation Color Code: RED, Eruption with volcanic ash cloud at 09:07 UTC (16:07 local). Eruption and ash emission is continuing. Ash-cloud moving to west – south. Best estimate of ash-cloud top is around 23872 FT (7460 M) above sea level, may be higher than what can be observed clearly. Source of height data: ground observer.”

We will keep an eye on this one.

Mount Sinabung roared back to life in 2010 for the first time in 400 years. After another period of inactivity it erupted once more in 2013, and has remained highly active since.

If you have travelled through the region lately and can provide members with more of an update, please get in touch. 

Maldives – Civil Unrest Update

In short: Civil unrest has calmed and state of emergency lifted on March 22, 2018. No impact at Malé International Airport or outlying islands or resorts. #OpsNormal.

The Maldives, a country known far more as a honeymoon hotspot in the Indian Ocean than as a hub of political crisis, is back to “business as usual,” according to its president, Abdulla Yameen, following the lifting of a 45-day state of emergency on March 22.

Latest Updates:

  • After the Maldivian government declared a state of emergency in February, tourists around the world are canceling their beachfront vacations in droves. The blow to the Maldives’ tourism industry is significant, as it accounts for over 30% of the country’s gross domestic product, reaching $3.5 billion in 2017. Ratings agency Moody’s has said it will lower its 4.5% growth forecast for 2018 if tourists avoid the island nation for a prolonged period.
  • On 22 March 2018, the state of emergency in Maldives was lifted. There could still be further anti-government protests in the capital Malé and a number of other towns. Recent protests have resulted in pepper spray being used by the security forces. You should exercise caution and avoid any protests or rallies. There are no reports that outlying islands, resorts or Malé International Airport have been affected.
  • Some local airlines have suspended flights to China due to the on-going unrest and decline in tourism numbers.

Extra Reading:

Have you been through the Maldives lately and can you update opsgroup members on the latest?

L888 – The Silk Road Airway

We received this interesting question from one of our Opsgroup members this week:

FSB said: ZSZZ/China There are four airways over the Himalayas (L888, Y1, Y2, Y3) which the Chinese authorities will only let you use if you have ADS, CPDLC and satellite voice communication, and operators need to verify their equipment with them at least 60 days in advance! So they recommend that only regular scheduled flights apply to use these airways.”

Member said: We’ve not been allowed to fly these routes, costing time between Europe and Hong Kong. I’ve been unable to get a direct answer of why not from our local Universal Aviation reps except, “the authorities won’t allow it”. Per above, there appears to be a procedure to use these airways. What is the process to gain access to these airways? Our equipment is Gulfstream with everything including the kitchen sink.

We will start with the answer:

Answer: The process to apply for access to these airways is found in AIP CHINA Section ENR 3.3.2.4 “L888, Y1, Y2”.

Excerpt from AIP CHINA published by CAAC

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

12. Flight application

12.1 A formal application shall be submitted to Air Traffic Management Bureau of the Civil Aviation Administration of China before air carriers operate data-link route, the application shall include:

” City pairs;
” Schedules;
” Starting time;
” Type of aircraft used;
” Satellite telephone numbers for the fleet;
” Procedure of emergent escape. (Y1, Y2 exceptive)

12.2 Flight plan notification of data-link capability is required before data-link services can be provided.

12.3 Aircraft equipped with serviceable ATS data-link equipment shall fill in ICAO flight plan forms as follows:
a. Advice of data-link capability shall be included in Field 10 (Communication and Navigation) by using an abbreviation “J”. b. Advice of available data-link media shall be included in field 18 by use of the prefix DAT/followed by one or more letters, as follows:

” DAT/S for satellited data-link,
” DAT/H for HF data-link,
” DAT/V for VHF data-link,
” DAT/M for SSR mode data-link,
” DAT/SAT for satellite phone.

12.4 Serviceable ADS equipment carried will be annotated by adding the letter D to the SSR equipment carried.

12.5 Air Carriers are required to provide a list of satellite telephone numbers with each aircraft which flying along route L888, Y1, Y2.

The contact details to make such an application are:

Operations Management Center
Air Traffic Management Bureau
Civil Aviation Administration of China
Telephone: 86-10-64091213
Facsimile: 86-10-65135983

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Now, onto the interesting stuff. The process requires submission of a “Procedure of emergent escape”.

The available alternate airports for route L888 are (according to the AIP);

  • Kunming airport;
  • Chengdu airport;
  • Urumqi airport; and
  • Kashi airport.

This is where it can get a little complicated. The handful of “air carriers” authorized to operate over these airways have type specific ‘escape’ procedures such as this example which shows a B777-300ER ‘Depressurization Terrain Considerations’ on Y1.

There is also the consideration of additional crew and passenger oxygen. The GRID MORA is over 20,000ft for several hours.

If you’re flying routes over this airspace regularly with the same aircraft, meet the onboard aircraft requirements and are willing to invest in developing type specific escape procedures, then a submission to CAAC might be in order. Even then, it’s a complicated approval process and there is always the potential requirement to carry an approved onboard navigator for travel to certain domestic airports. Another tip we picked up was to make sure you don’t change callsigns between the submission of your application and the date you fly. Some flightplans have been getting rejected close to departure due to callsign confusion.

 

Our conclusion: Not a huge value add for most non-scheduled operators.

If you however do get to travel down L888 – pack a camera – because WOW!

Some extra information to show off next time you’re in the pilots’ lounge…

As you’ll probably already know, the Silk Road or Silk Route was an ancient network of trade routes that were for centuries central to cultural interaction originally through regions of Eurasia connecting the East and West.

The concept behind the Silk Road initiative was not new. As long ago as 1997, the Australian airline QANTAS commissioned a study that crossed part of the Tibetan plateau which determined that there would be substantial benefits for their B747-400 aircraft, and that suitable depressurization escape routes were able to be determined. As recently as 2013 ICAO was working to expand routes over this airspace.

“ICAO presented information on a possible high density routing initiative for traffic from Southeast Asia or Southern China to Europe via north of the Himalayas, taking advantage of the latest Performance-based Navigation (PBN) navigation specifications. The Silk Road initiative was a proof- of-concept ATS route study, utilising RNP 2, RNAV 2 or RNAV 5 navigation specifications, and was first presented to the Asia/Pacific Regional ATM Contingency Plan Task Force (RACP/TF) as a possible future contingency system for traffic operating on Major Traffic Flow (MTF) AR-4, in case of airspace unavailability in South Asian FIRs.”

Further Reading:

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