International Ops 2017

Flight Service Bureau | OPSGROUP

Category: Briefings (page 1 of 19)

FAA lifts ban on Iraq airspace

As expected, the FAA have now issued KICZ A0025/17 which lifts the full ban on the Baghdad FIR and allows U.S. operators to overfly the country above FL260.

Several international airlines (Emirates, Turkish) had already resumed Iraq overflights after their national authorities removed restrictions at the end of November. With the announcement last week that Iraqi forces have now defeated ISIS and the country has been fully returned to government control, the airspace risk has reduced.

Iraq has published a few of its own Notams with various different areas of closed airspace at lower levels due to ongoing military operations. The only one that affects the higher flight levels is in the north-west, along the border with Syria, where a no-fly area has been introduced from SFC-FL460.

However, airways UM860 and UM688 (the two main routes through the Baghdad FIR) to the east of this zone are unaffected, and now effectively open above FL260.

This means that operators will have shorter routes through the Middle East available once again. Emirates is already reported to be routing around 150 flights a day via Iraq, rather than having to take longer routes via Saudi Arabia or Iran – so expect this bit of airspace to start to get busy again soon.

Afghan/Pakistan border waypoint name changes

Afghanistan has changed a bunch of waypoint names on its border with Pakistan today. If you’re flying that way, you’ll need to know these for when you submit your Pakistan permit – they only approve permits for specific entry/exit points.

For more details, check out the full AIP AIRAC AMDT here.

Overflight advice for Afghanistan averages out at a minimum FL250, though as with other mountainous countries we think FL320 is a better starting point. For Pakistan, the consensus among foreign authorities is to cross the OPLR/Lahore and OPKR/Karachi FIR’s at higher flight levels. For full details check out safeairspace.net

If you want to know exactly how to get your landing or overflight permits, check out our Permit Book, which tells you how to get a permit for each and every country in the world!

NAT Expanded data link mandate

It’s time for everyone’s favourite topic – DATA LINK MANDATE! New things are happening on December 7th. Don’t worry, we’ll help.

Right Now, if you’re using the NAT tracks, between FL350-390, you’re mandated to use data link services. Simply put, you must be equipped with CPDLC and ADS-C (FANS 1/A ready and able).

On December 7th 2017, the data link mandate will expand to the entire ICAO NAT Region between FL350-390, with a few exceptions. We’ve got the image below showing you the area. White routes are exempt, as well as the grey border areas (we like the Big Fish).

Exemptions:
-Everything north of 80°North
-New York Oceanic East FIR (was previously all of NY Oceanic)
-Routes T9, T213, T13, T16, T25. (see: The Tango Routes)
-The Blue Spruce Routes (white lines)
-Areas that currently have radar, multilateration (is this a word?) and/or ADS-B. (the grey areas)
Note: If any of the NAT Tracks go into the grey areas, you won’t be exempt while on the tracks.

Be ready, January 30th, 2020, all of the NAT ICAO Region will have the Data Link Mandate, above FL290, including the Tango Routes as well as those little grey areas.

To figure out where you are welcome on the NAT, depending on what equipment and training you have, check out our quick and dirty guide here.

For more details about the datalink mandate, you can read the UK AIC in full here.

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Cathay crew witness missile re-entry from North Korea

Crew onboard a Cathay Pacific flight witnessed the re-entry of North Korea’s latest missile near their position late last week. The CX893 service from San Francisco to Hong Kong on Nov 29 was over Japan at the time when North Korea launched its missile.

The crew reported: “Be advised, we witnessed the DPRK missile blow up and fall apart near our current location.”

Here’s Cathay Pacific’s full statement:

“On 29 November, the flight crew of CX893 reported a sighting of what is suspected to be the re-entry of the recent DPRK test missile. Though the flight was far from the event location, the crew advised Japan ATC according to procedures. Operation remained normal and was not affected. We have been in contact with relevant authorities and industry bodies as well as with other carriers. At the moment, no one is changing any routes or operating parameters. We remain alert and review the situation as it evolves."

North Korea’s missiles are larger, and can fly further, than the other missiles we’ve previously seen. Over the past year, most of these missiles land in the Sea of Japan, well inside the Fukuoka Flight Information Region (Japanese airspace). But as we see with this latest test, there is clearly a danger of some of these missiles not re-entering the atmosphere intact – meaning that a debris field of missile fragments passes through the airspace, not just one complete missile. If you haven’t done so already, make sure you read this: our article on why North Korean missiles are now a real threat to Civil Aviation.

This latest test is also significant because of its unprecedented altitude – 4500km (2800 miles). Experts seem to agree that if it had been fired on a standard trajectory, the missile would have been capable of traveling around 13000km (8100 miles), meaning it could have struck anywhere in the mainland US.

If you’re operating in the region, we recommend avoiding the ZKKP/Pyongyang FIR entirely and avoiding the affected areas over the Sea of Japan. For more info, check out Safeairspace.

Bali – Airport Status

Volcanic eruptions from Bali’s Mount Agung earlier last week forced the closure of WADD/Denpasar and WADL/Lombok airports, as volcanic ash spread across both islands.

Here’s the current situation at the airports on Dec 4:

  • WADD/Bali: Re-opened on Nov 29. (Although the airport will be closed for runway repair from 18-23z daily [except Saturdays] until Dec 31).
  • WADL/Lombok: Re-opened on Nov 30. 
  • WARR/Juanda: Open and operating. So far has not been affected at all by the volcanic ash. (Although the airport will be closed for runway repair from 16-22z daily until Jan 06).

Although Mount Agung has now stopped emitting ash, another large eruption is still likely. The local monitoring agency are registering powerful and continuous tremors, and authorities have ordered locals and journalists within 10km of the volcano to evacuate. Further intermittent airport closures are possible, depending on wind direction.

We will keep this page updated with the latest news as we get it.

Strike cancelled at Tel Aviv Airport

Update 1800z Nov 30: A strike by airport workers at LLBG/Tel Aviv which was originally planned for this weekend has now been cancelled.

The Airports Authority says the strike was canceled after the government intervened and were able to reach a deal with the workers’ union to delay any strike action this weekend.

We’ll keep this page updated with any more news as we get it.

FAA warns about fuel contamination

The FAA Safety Team have issued a mysterious new Notam today, about a possible fuel contamination problem at airports in the central U.S.

Update: The FAA has sent a follow up, seems things weren’t as widespread as they made it sound:

SPECIAL..NOTICE..

THE FAA CONTINUES TO INVESTIGATE A FUEL CONTAMINATION PROBLEM. SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE INDICATES THE CONTAMINATION HAS BEEN ISOLATED TO GENERAL AVIATION AND MILITARY AIRCRAFT AT EPPLEY AIRFIELD, OMAHA, NE (KOMA) DURING THE TIME PERIOD NOVEMBER 18-20, 2017. FAA RECOMMENDS THAT ALL AIRCRAFT OPERATORS CHECK NOTAMS FREQUENTLY FOR POSSIBLE CHANGES TO THIS ONGOING SITUATION.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT FLIGHT STANDARDS AIR TRANSPORTATION DIVISION AT 202-267-8166.

Here’s what they have to say:

FDC 7/4900 (A1362/17) - FL..SPECIAL NOTICE..THE FAA IS CURRENTLY INVESTIGATING 
A FUEL CONTAMINATION PROBLEM THAT HAS RECENTLY APPEARED IN JET FUEL WI THE CENTRAL U.S. THE EXACT SOURCE AND THE GEOGRAPHICAL SCOPE OF THE CONTAMINATION IS UNKNOWN. THERE HAVE BEEN REPORTS OF BLOCKAGES IN FUEL FILTERS, FUEL NOZZLES, AND FUEL TANKS. THIS HAS RESULTED IN SEVERAL ENGINE FLAMEOUTS AND OTHER ERRATIC ENGINE OPS. ALL OPERATORS ARE ADZ TO CLOSELY FOLLOW FUEL SAMPLING PROC AND REPORT ANY DISCOVERY OF CONTAMINATION OR ERRATIC ENGINE OPS TO THEIR FLIGHT STANDARDS DISTRICT OFFICE OR NEAREST FAA FACILITY. 30 NOV 00:20 2017 UNTIL 30 DEC 00:20 2017. CREATED: 30 NOV 00:48 2017

We haven’t seen or heard any reports about this issue recently. The FAA Safety Team say that this is currently still under investigation, and can’t provide any additional information just yet. We’ve also reached out to a few of the major suppliers, who are saying pretty much the same thing – no more info yet, beyond the Notam.

Several sources are telling us the NOTAM is related to a fuel issue at KOMA, limited to a single truck at a single FBO:

F0013/17 NOTAMN Q) ZMP/QFUXX/IV/NBO/A/000/999/4118N09553W005 A) KOMA B) 1711211550 C) 1712212359 E) [DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY ENERGY ADVISORY] CONTRACT FUEL NOT AVAILABLE TRUMAN ARNOLD COMPANIES DBA TAC AIR IS HEREBY NOTIFIED TO CEASE REFUELING ON ALL U.S. AIRCRAFT UNDER INTO-PLANE CONTRACT SPE600-16-D-0066 AT LOCATION KOMA – EPPLEY AIRFIELD AIRPORT, NEBRASKA. DUE TO SAFETY OF FLIGHT ISSUES REPORTED ON TWO AIR FORCE AIRCRAFT REFUELED AT THEIR FACILITY 18 NOV 2017 THAT RESULTED IN EMERGENCY LANDINGS. REFUELING OF U.S. GOVERNMENT AIRCRAFT IS IMMEDIATELY SUSPENDED AND SHALL REMAIN SO UNTIL THE DLA ENERGY CONTRACTING OFFICER NOTIFIES YOU OTHERWISE IN WRITING.


If you’ve experienced any fuel contamination issues recently, we’d love to hear about it! Email us at team@flightservice.org

French Guiana ATC strikes continue

There seems to be no end in sight for the French Guiana ATC strikes. Here’s the current situation:

SOOO FIR: the entire airspace will be uncontrolled from 00-11z until further notice (extended beyond 01Dec).
That means there will be no ATC staff on duty during these times. Basically, during the closure, there’s a contingency plan in place: so if you want to cross this bit of airspace, there are now very specific routes and levels you have to fly at. Check these carefully prior to ops, and make sure you’re at the right flight level before crossing the FIR boundary. Once you’re inside the FIR, don’t change your speed or level.

To read the contingency plan in full, with all the published routes and what to do, click here.

TTZP/Piarco ATC (who control the FIR to the north) have said that everything has been running smoothly so far with this contingency plan, and they haven’t had any problems with directing overflying traffic from TTZP to SOOO.

SOCA/Cayenne Airport: the airport will be limited between 0100-1100Z until further notice.  This means you can’t file as an alternate, and if you’re arriving or departing during these times, you’ll need to call ATC for PPR at +594 35 92 72, or +594 39 93 02. 

We’ll keep this page updated with the latest news as we get it.

Ops to Taiwan? You’ll have to avoid China

We’ve had lots of questions on this subject lately. So here’s what you need to know:

  • Foreign-registered aircraft are prohibited from operating direct between China and Taiwan.
  • You’ve got to make a tech stop somewhere between the two countries – most choose to do so in either VHHH/Hong Kong or VMMC/Macau.
  • Importantly, the same rules apply for China overflights – if you’re flying to Taiwan from any third country, you can’t overfly China. 
  • Only Chinese and Taiwanese registered aircraft are able to operate direct between China and Taiwan.

The Chinese authorities are reluctant to provide any kind of official document stating any of this – we haven’t been able to find any precise wording anywhere in their AIP which states these restrictions.

To test the theory, we applied to the Chinese authorities for a landing permit for a direct flight from Taiwan to China. After we applied, we received an immediate call from CAAC emphasising that they will not deal with such applications for foreign registered aircraft. They advised they will not process this application and verbally rejected it.

The Chinese authorities circulate an official document to Chinese handling agents about this issue, which sets out the rules quite clearly. For some reason, they don’t like these to be distributed outside of China… so naturally, we got our hands on a translated copy!

So here’s a handy chart showing exactly what you can / can’t do:

More information:

  • If you are planning any flights to China anytime soon, make sure you know about the hidden costs of operating there here.
  • If you want to know exactly how to get your landing or overflight permits, check out our Permit Book – this tells you how to get a permit for each and every country in the world!

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:

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