International Ops 2018

Flight Service Bureau | OPSGROUP

Author: Declan Selleck (page 1 of 20)

Emirates aircraft intercepted, Qatar complains to UN

OTZZ/Qatar The UAE allege that on Jan 15, Qatari fighter jets intercepted an Emirates aircraft in international waters just north of the tip of Qatar. Qatar denies the claim.

Following the incident, the UAE CAA published a safety alert, warning about “unannounced and hazardous military activities within Bahrain FIR in airways UP699 and P699”, which they consider to be “a potential hazard to the safety of flight.”

Qatar have filed a complaint of their own with the UN, claiming that UAE military aircraft have repeatedly violated their airspace during the ongoing diplomatic crisis between the Gulf states.

All this complaining on both sides is much more likely to be political wrangling, rather than any kind of genuine airspace safety issue.

Missile attack on OERK/Riyadh was “warning shot”, other airports now targets

Update: Yemen-based Houthi forces fired another missile into Saudi Arabia on Dec 19. Saudi Arabia claim they intercepted it south of the capital Riyadh, with no damage or casualties reported, though a loud explosion was heard throughout the capital. The Houthi forces claim they were targeting a palace in southern Riyadh. This follows the previous Houthi missile attack on OERK/Riyadh Airport on Nov 4th, when they said: “the missile that targeted King Khalid airport was a warning shot and we warn all companies to prevent landing of their planes in the UAE and Saudi Arabia airports”. A Yemeni Army spokesman has said that the November 4 missile attack on OERK was a “warning shot”.

That missile was launched from rebel territory in Yemen, specifically targeting OERK/Riyadh King Khalid airport. Although most mainstream media carried the “missile was intercepted” story, we’re not sure that this is the case – even if it was, parts of it did fall on airport property and there was a visible explosion.

The spokesman said “the missile that targeted King Khalid airport was a warning shot and we warn all companies to prevent landing of their planes in the UAE and Saudi Arabia airports”.

Given that the Yemeni rebels have demonstrated their capability of reaching their target, there is some credibility to the threat.

Operators should consider this in operations to OE** and OM** airports.

At present, there is no indication of increased threat to overflight of Saudi or UAE airspace.

On Monday, the Saudi Arabia coalition closed all air, sea and land borders with Yemen after the missile strike on Riyadh on Nov 4, effectively closing all airports in Yemen. Yemenia airlines said that the coalition, which controls Yemen’s airspace, had declined it permission to fly out of Aden and Seiyun, the only two remaining functioning airports. OYSN/Sanaa has been closed since August 2016.

Also, all UN humanitarian flights to Yemen, one of the few international operators, have been cancelled after flights were no longer given clearance from the Saudi-led coalition to land in the country.

SCATANA remains active in the southwestern portion of the Jeddah FIR, no new Notams have been issued in relation to the last few days.

For further:

  • Monitor Saudi Arabia page on SafeAirspace
  • Monitor OPSGROUP member updates
  • Talk to us at team@fsbureau.org

 

OpsGroup – the power of the group

The power of the group

In the last 30 years, there has been a massive change in how the world works: thank you, internet. We are witnessing a shift from the power of a central source – like government, and large corporations – to the power of the individual. Each of us is now connected to the entirety of human knowledge through a small, handheld device, and can connect with others to effect powerful and positive change.

OPSGROUP is founded on this premise.  International Flight Operations is an inherently tricky area, full of gotcha’s and unforeseen changes for even the most diligent airline or aircraft operator. One operator versus a myriad of often unreadable government-sourced regulations and information – Notams, AIC’s, FAR’s – is a battle with guaranteed casualties.

But by connecting with other people, just like you, with the same problems and challenges, you can solve and share solutions.

When we started this group last year, we had a small handful of pilots, dispatchers, and managers that figured coming together in this way was a winner. As of November 2017, we’re now heading for 4,000 OPSGROUP members, with a great variety in operations roles: Airline and Corporate pilots, Military operators, Federal agencies, Flight Dispatchers and Schedulers, ATC, and Civil Aviation Authorities – all working together.

It’s still early days, and we have a way to go. But with some basic core principles – plain language (we call a spade a spade), operator and passenger safety ahead of lawyer-speak, cooperation instead of competition  – and a huge appetite for development, there is much to gain.

So what’s good in the group? Read on …

1. Information

First on the plate for almost every operator is staying current. Rules and regulations are changing with increased voracity. Did I miss something? Yep, almost definitely. Each week we produce the International Operations Bulletin. We try to cover all the big changes in the last 7 days. If we miss something, we’ve found that someone in the group is pretty quick to tell us, and it appears in the next one.

 

 

2. Fun (including Goats)

We promise to keep it entertaining“. Without your attention, we’ve got nothing. Not only that, but we get as bored as you do with the standard aviation legal-language speak that permeates even the most important documents. Which is why sometimes we’ll run a Goat Show. Sometimes it’s just great to be “unprofessional“.

3. Members

Like we said, approaching 4,000. All working together with the same goal: making International Flight Operations better. Click on the links to read what they say.

Airlines like United, Fedex, and Etihad
Small Part 91 Flight Departments like CAT3, Fayair, Pula
Big 135 Charter Operators like Jet Aviation, TAG and Netjets
Companies like Visa, IBM, and AT&T
Manufacturers like Boeing, Airbus, and Lockheed
International Pilots like Matt Harty, Bill Stephenson, and Timothy Whalen
Organisations like IFALPA, the NBAA, and CAA Singapore

 

4. Airspace Risk

MH17 was a tragedy that must not be repeated. A small handful of operators were privy to information on the risk, and the Notam writers of Ukraine that were aware of previous shoot-downs released the information in a language almost designed to confuse. Through our safeairspace.net project, we can now share risk information within OPSGROUP and make sure that every single member has access to a current picture of airspace risk.

 

5. Airport Spy

One of our group members came to us with a great idea last year – why don’t we share our knowledge of operations at airports around the world. So we made a TripAdvisor style section in the member Dashboard, and allowed members to add their own reports on Airports, ATC, and Handlers. We now have 3000 or so reports.

 

6. Member Dashboard

We don’t need to explain this one too much. Everything the group has, in one place.

 

7. Slack

Slack is cool. It’s a chat app, but it’s more than that. Internally, we don’t use email anymore, we use slack. There are different channels like #crewroom, #todays-ops, #usefuldocs, and #questions. When there are special events, like #FranceATCStrike or #NewYorkSnow we open a special group for that. About 1200 members use this regularly, and it’s the perfect way to connect with other crews, ATC, or the Feds.

 

8. George

George is a bot. He’ll fetch information for you on airports, get weather, the NAT Tracks, and a few other things. We’re working on making him a little smarter.

 

9. Ask Us Anything

Getting an answer to your question is what keeps us awake at night. There’s not much we can’t help with, but usually someone else in the group beats us to it. If not though, the FSB International Desk team will research that ops question that is threatening to make your life hell.

 

10. The future

The best part of OPSGROUP is that we’re really just getting started. The future of the group is unwritten, but placing the planning power in your hands as an operator rather than 3rd parties, and having the security of knowing that the group has your back, is a great way to start. There is much to build and develop, and we’d love you to be involved!

 

11. Joining

You can choose an Individual, Team, or Flight Department membership. All the information on that is on the OpsGroup website. We limit joining windows to certain months of the year, so that we can be all hands on deck with building new things for the group once membership is closed. If we’re not accepting new members at the moment, you can waitlist for the next opening.

 

Further

 

New Unsafe Airspace Summary and Map

November 29, 2017: One of our biggest missions in OPSGROUP is to share risk information and keep operators aware of the current threat picture. The lastest Unsafe Airspace Summary is now published, and available to members here as a PDF download (Unsafe Airspace Summary 29NOV17, edition JULIETT).

The main changes since the last summary are below. For a current risk map, refer to the Airspace Risk map in your member Dashboard.

North Korea. On November 3rd, the FAA published Notam 23/17, which now prohibits US operators from entering any of the Pyongyang FIR. replacing SFAR79 and previous advice to ‘exercise caution’. The situation remains tense, and as highlighted by FSB in September, the western portion of the Japan FIR is a risk area due to multiple missile re-entries into the same portion of Japanese airspace.

The conflict in Mali is onging. Germany added a new specific warning for GAKL/Kidal on 15 Nov, in addition to GATB/Timbuktu and GAGO/Gao.

Saudi Arabia is now at Level 2 – assessed risk. Due to military activity related to the involvement in Yemen, it is suggested to avoid the southwestern region of the Jeddah FIR. On Nov 4 a missile launched from Yemen reached Riyadh Airport. Saudi sources say missile was intercepted, this is not yet confirmed. Threats have been made by Yemen of further strikes.

The situation in Afghanistan remains similar. On November 15, Germany removed wording to maintain FL330 or higher, no altitude advice now exists, but they recommend against landings at Afghan airports.

International airlines resume Iraq overflights, airspace reopens today

Emirates will be the first international airline to resume overflights of Iraq, with the first flights through the Baghdad FIR expected today, Monday Nov 27. According to FSB sources, effective 0001Z this morning the GCAA will authorize UAE based airlines to use this airspace, after several years of restrictions. Emirates anticipates that about 150 flights a day will now route via Iraq, rather than having to take longer routes via Saudi Arabia or Iran.

This is the first in several steps we expect will lead to almost full resumption of overflights over Iraq, meaning operators will have shorter routes through the Middle East available once again.

The next step will be for the FAA to authorise US carriers to overfly Iraq – most likely at FL260 or above. That approval was initially slated for the end of October, but was held back after events on the ground posed a security concern for UM860 and UM688 – the two main routes through the Baghdad FIR to Europe and vv.

The FAA were about to hit ‘publish’ on a Notam  which would have enabled US airlines to start overflying Iraq again. The text of this Notam included:

  • An amendment to the existing Iraq restriction
  • An authorisation for US airlines and operators to overfly Iraq at or above FL260

But then, a military operation by Iraqi forces to take control of Kirkuk from the Kurds the same day, created concern as to overflight safety. Kirkuk sits pretty much underneath the UM860 airway on the map above.

For now, only UAE carriers have been given the green light for Iraq. Other operators and authorities are likely to follow suit soon.

See also:

EGGX Shanwick FIR 2017 Operational Changes – Oceanic

Because Shanwick is the only true Oceanic FIR in the NAT region, we’ll use this page for NAT changes, including CZQX/Gander, BIRD/Iceland, ENOB/Bodo, LPPO/Santa Maria, and KZWY/New York Oceanic East.

Coming up soon …

  • Dec 7, 2017: Datalink Mandate expands All NAT Region airspace will now require Datalink between FL350-FL390. There are exceptions, namely: North of 80N, Surveillance airspace (Radar and ADS-B, and there’s a map), New York Oceanic, and Tango Routes.
  • Jan 4, 2018: RLAT Next Phase. The Half-Tracks will be expanded from the three that now run each day, first by one additional track, to a max of four RLAT tracks – between FL350-FL390.  This is different to the initial plan foreseen, which was that all tracks would be RLAT at these levels. Further expansion will depend on demand. Jan 4 is the earliest day that this might happen, but because they will be decided tactically, it’ll be the first busy day after Jan 4.
  • March 29, 2018: RCP RSP required on the NAT Tracks between FL350-390.

 

The NAT used to be simple. Fill your flask, fire up the HF, align the INS and away you went.

Now, it’s a little more complicated. Basic Instruments are not enough. Use this quick and dirty guide from FSB to figure out where you are welcome on the NAT, depending on what equipment and training you have. Valid December 7, 2017.

Free for OpsGroup, otherwise email us at team@fsbureau.org if you’d love a copy but aren’t a group member. Do tell us why!


2017

Feb 15th, 2017 In the first six weeks of 2017 there have been some important changes on the NAT/North Atlantic. These are published in the latest edition of NAT Doc 007, January 2017.

  • SLOP – Offsetting is now mandatory. Choose 0, 1, or 2nm right of track. We think 1 or 2 is best. Consider the recent A380 story.
  • TCAS 7.1: From January 1st, 2017, TCAS 7.1 is required throughout the entire NAT region.
  • Cruising Level: Effective 2017, you no longer need to file an ICAO standard cruising level in NAT airspace.
  • Gross Nav Error:  is now defined as greater than 10nm (used to be 25nm)
  • Contingency Procedure: Published January 2017, a new turn-back (180) procedure is introduced – turn back to parallel previous track by 15nm.
  • Datalink Mandate Exemptions: Announced January 2017, new exemptions for Phase 2B of the Datalink mandate, which will start on December 7, 2017 (FL350-390). Exempt: Radar airspace, Tango Routes, airspace north of 80N, and New York OCA.

2016

  • Confirm Assigned Route Introduced August 2016, you will see this message when you enter NAT airspace with datalink, and you should reply with the planned route in NAT airspace. Designed to catch errors.
  • NAT HLA The airspace formerly known as MNPS. Changed February 2016. NAT HLA = NAT High Level Airspace. Now includes Bodo Oceanic, and aircraft must be RNP 4 or RNP10. Previous MNPS approvals good through 2020.

2015

  • RLAT Started December 2015, spacing on the NAT Tracks reduced to “Half Track” (30nm) for 3 core tracks. RLAT=Reduced Lateral Separation Minima. Next phase (ie. all NAT Tracks 350-390) now planned for December 2017.
  • SLOP Offsetting right of track by 1nm or 2nm became Mandatory.

 


Feb 15th, 2017: FSB published the full NAT Crossing Guide “My first North Atlantic Flight is tomorrow“.

– What’s different about the NAT, changes in 2017, 2016, 2015, NAT Quick Map
– Routine Flight Example #1 – Brussels to JFK (up at 5.45am)
– Non Routine-Flights: No RVSM, No RNP4, No HF, 1 LRNS, No HLA, No ETOPS, No TCAS, No Datalink – what you can do and where you can go
Take a look.

 


NAT – Choose your own Adventure

The NAT used to be simple. Fill your flask, fire up the HF, align the INS and away you went.

Now, it’s a little more complicated. Basic Instruments are not enough. Use this quick and dirty guide from FSB to figure out where you are welcome on the NAT, depending on what equipment and training you have. Valid December 7, 2017.

Overflight risk – Radioactive Russian airspace

Media reporting in the last 24 hours has raised concerns amongst operators about a possible Nuclear accident in Russia, leading to a radioactive cloud in the region of Chelyabinsk, in the Ural mountains. USCC/Chelyabinsk is about 100nm south east of USSS/Ekaterinburg Airport.

Russia has denied that any such accident occurred, but cannot account for the increased levels of radioactivity in the region, which were 1000 times higher than normal. Through the Russian met service, they have confirmed the high radiation levels.

Approximate source of radioactivity

However, assessing a report last week from the French Nuclear watchdog, ISRN, we believe there should not be any risk to operators, especially for overflights. The facts are as follows:

  • The high levels of radiation were first detected at the end of September in Europe
  • Since the beginning of October, levels have decreased in Europe
  • ISRN says they are not concerned about risks to health, even at the higher levels
  • However, no recent data is presented from Russia

Further reading:

Zimbabwe Coup – Airport update

FVZZ/Zimbabwe (Don’t fly here) There’s a coup happening, watch live on CNN.

FVZA/Harare is operating, but the usual coup-style stuff is going on – lots of soldiers at the airport, checkpoints on the way in, and journalists being denied entry on arriving flights.

The city has tanks on the streets. President under house arrest.

FVZA was renamed last week from Harare International Airport to Robert Mugabe International, this might be swiftly reversed.

Both UK and US embassies are advising people to shelter in place until the situation becomes clear.

CYYR/Goose Bay closed – sticky runways

CYYR/Goose Bay was closed by the Canadian Department of National Defence on Nov 8, following the discovery of a problem with their runways. During snow removal operations over the past few days, crack sealant was found on vehicles after they were used on the runways. Specialists are en-route to Goose Bay to assess the situation.

Runway 08/26 has been completely closed, and Runway 16/34 has closed to all except Medevac flights, with a shortened Landing Distance Available of 7600 feet.

The Airport has said that emergency flights will be considered on a “case by case basis”. However, for now, carrying CYYR as an ETOPS alternate does not make sense.

Current Notams show the airport closure has been extended until 2359Z today, Nov 9, though that may still be extended further.

 

A5669/17 - RWY 08/26 CLSD. 08 NOV 23:16 2017 UNTIL 09 NOV 23:59 2017. CREATED: 08 NOV 23:17 2017
A5670/17 - RWY 16/34 AVBL MEDEVAC ONLY WITH:  
FIRST 1980 FT RWY 34 CLSD. THR 34 IS RELOCATED 1980 FT.
DECLARED DIST:
RWY 34 TORA 7600 TODA 8600 ASDA 7600 LDA 7600
RWY 16 TORA 7600 TODA 7600 ASDA 7600 LDA 7600. 08 NOV 23:16 2017 UNTIL 09 NOV
23:59 2017. CREATED: 08 NOV 23:20 2017
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