International Ops 2018

Flight Service Bureau | OPSGROUP

Category: Briefings (page 2 of 25)

NAT Circle of Entry 2018

For the latest changes and updates on the North Atlantic, including our most recent Guides and Charts, use our NAT reference page at flightservicebureau.org/NAT.

Updated May 22, 2018: Added a centre circle for the PBCS Tracks, updated entry requirements for the NAT Tracks

Confused and overwhelmed with the changes on the North Atlantic of late? Especially with PBCS, RCP240, RSP180, RLAT, RLong, and all that? Yep, us too.

So, we drew a circle. Tell us if this helps. Click on the circle to download the more detailed PDF.

Download the NAT Circle of Change 2018 PDF.

To help ease your NAT Headache further, these goodies will probably also be useful:

 

Russian bombers intercepted off Alaskan coast (again)

Reports this week of two Tu-95 Russian bombers being intercepted by US F22 fighters off the coast of Alaska.

The Tu-95 bombers were flying in the Air Defense Identification Zone in the Bering Sea north of the Aleutian Islands, where they were visually identified and shadowed by the U.S. jets at 10 a.m., said Navy Capt. Scott Miller, a North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesman.

The bombers did not enter North American sovereign airspace, he said in a statement. Miller declined to say how close the bombers came to U.S. land. Some outlets reported they flew as close as 55 miles off Alaska’s west coast.

Friday’s encounter was the first of its kind in just more than a year, Miller said. A similar incident occurred off Alaskan waters in April 2017 in what U.S. officials have described as routine if not tense encounters between adversarial aircraft where territorial lines meet.

The ADIZ extends about 200 miles off the Alaskan coast and is mostly international airspace, Miller said, though Russian military activity will often prompt an in-kind response for U.S. warplanes. Intercepts in the zone occurred about 60 times from 2007 to 2017, The New York Times reported last year.

Extra Reading:

Bad NOTAMS = Runway overruns in Hamburg

If you’re headed to Hamburg, watch out. The runway is shortened, and the Notams are vague.

Poorly written NOTAMs struck again this week in Hamburg, Germany, when an A320 and a B737 both overran Runway 05 on landing – the first by SAS on May 11  and the second by Ryanair on May 15.

Runway 05 in EDDH/Hamburg has been undergoing works and a litany of related NOTAMs and AIP SUP were issued to explain.

A1608/18 – RWY 05 LDA 2370M. 12 APR 04:00 2018 UNTIL 23 MAY 21:00 2018. CREATED: 05 APR 09:50 2018

A1605/18 – SHORTENED DECLARED DISTANCES FOR RWY 05/23. AIP SUP IFR 09/18 REFERS. 12 APR 04:00 2018 UNTIL 23 MAY 21:00 2018. CREATED: 05 APR 09:42 2018

A2223/18 – TWY A1, A3, A4, A5 CLOSED. 02 MAY 10:26 2018 UNTIL 01 JUL 04:00 2018. CREATED: 02 MAY 10:27 2018

A2044/18 – ILS RWY 05 NOT AVBL. AIP SUP IFR 09/18 REFERS. 23 APR 09:17 2018 UNTIL 23 MAY 21:00 2018. CREATED: 23 APR 09:17 2018

A1725/18 – CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT IN DEP SECTOR ALL IFR DEPARTURES RWY 05. PSN WITHIN AN AREA 533810N 0095948E AND 533805N 0100023E. MAX ELEV 89 FT. NOT MARKED AND LIGHTED. SUP 09 2018, CONSTRUCTION WORK EDDH REFER. 12 APR 04:00 2018 UNTIL 23 MAY 20:00 2018. CREATED: 09 APR 13:10 2018

A1609/18 – RWY 23 CLOSED FOR ARR. 12 APR 04:00 2018 UNTIL 23 MAY 21:00 2018. CREATED: 05 APR 09:52 2018

Despite this, both were unable to stop before the last open exit (A6) and vacated further down the runway. Thankfully both resulted in no injury because all construction equipment was kept clear of, and beyond, taxiway E6.

A better NOTAM may have been:

RWY 05 IS SHORTER THAN USUAL DUE TO CONSTRUCTION WORK AT 23 END. REDUCED LANDING DISTANCE IS 2370M. LAST TAXIWAY OPEN FOR EXIT IS A6. CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT ON RUNWAY BEYOND TAXIWAY A6. 

You get the idea. Concise and plain language in one NOTAM to make it clear what the issue is and the consequences of going beyond 2370m of runway.

They did, to their credit, try and tidy it up since the incidents:

A2563/18 – RWY 05 CLSD EAST OF TWY A6. RWY 05 LDA 2370M. RWY 05 NON STANDARD TDZ AND AIMING POINT MARKINGS AT 400M FM THR ISO 300M. ADJUST LDG PERF ACCORDINGLY. 17 MAY 16:30 2018 UNTIL 23 MAY 21:00 2018. CREATED: 17 MAY 16:31 2018

In another serious incident associated with these runway works, a Vueling A320 (another foreign operator) nearly landed at the wrong airport on May 11. Thankfully ATC intervened on that one.

All incidents are now the subject of investigation.

Naturally it’s imperative for crew and disptachers to check and read all NOTAMS thoroughly. But with over 40 current just for EDDH/Hamburg right now, it’s easy to understand why things get missed.

Until then “adjust landing performance accordingly”.

Extra Viewing:

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

 

FSB removes North Korea airspace warnings

Flight Service Bureau is today removing all airspace warnings regarding North Korea from our guidance to aircraft operators. Specifically:

  • We are removing the Level 1 – Do Not Flywarning for the Pyongyang FIR – both mainland and waters areas.
  • We are no longer concerned about splashdown missile risk in the Sea of Japan and withdraw Note 30 to OpsGroup.

We have monitored the North Korea situation as regards overflight risk since 2014, when the first signs of risk appeared. In August 2016, we identified the missile risk as being increased, applying a Level 2 warning, and in August 2017, we elevated North Korea to Level 1, adding a warning for the Sea of Japan.

With the complete turnaround in political stance of North Korea in the last few months, it is our opinion that further test launches of missiles through the Pyongyang FIR are most unlikely. Coupled with the assurances given to ICAO last week, even if one were launched, we can expect a notification.

This position is better than we have been in during the period from 2005-2014, the years during which North Korea tested missiles but notified ICAO.

Too soon?

Airspace risk evolves rapidly. In the same way that we report risk to aircraft operators as soon as we know about it, through OpsGroup and safeairspace.net, we must also be prepared to stand down when the basis for those risks dissolves. We’re not assessing the likelihood of future political will of North Korea, or the chances of success for reunification. We’re simply saying, the basis for the warnings that exist – not just ours, but also the state warnings  from the US, UK, France and Germany – was unannounced missile launches, and that basis is now without merit.

As mentioned above, we are in at least as good a position as 2014, when nobody avoided North Korean airspace.

Guidance from FSB

We report on overflight and airspace risk to aircraft operators. Where we can, we give clear guidance. Our mission, in the wake of MH17, is to ensure that all operators have access to the information they need to make informed decisions about risky airspace.

It won’t always match guidance from States and Aviation Authorities: in this case, it won’t match any of the current state guidance.

The reason: we are an independent organisation, we form guidance based on the viewpoints of our analysts and more importantly, the 4000 airlines, operators, pilots, and dispatchers in OpsGroup. We are not bounded by political pressure, commercial pressure, or fear of getting it wrong. We’ll give you the best intended, most honest, clearest possible summary of opinion and guidance, so that you can make your own final decision about where to fly. Our first interest lies with the pilot, and the aircraft operator.

Current state warnings:

Further reading

  • OPSGROUP
  • safeairspace.net
  • Reuters: North Korea agrees to warn of activity hazardous to aviation: U.N. agency
  • FSB: Is North Korea safe to overfly again? – May 2018
  • FSB Archive: “Here’s why North Korean missiles are now a real threat to Civil Aviation” –
  • FSB Archive: “North Korea overflight getting riskier” – August 2016
  • FSB Archive: “North Korea missile threat” – August 2016

 

Ramadan 2018 – country by country

In most of the world, Ramadan in 2018 is expected to begin on May 16 and end on June 14, with both dates depending on lunar sightings. Eid-al-Fitr is expected to be observed June 14-15, though the exact dates will vary by country. Across the countries which celebrate the holiday, there will be delays processing permits, slots, and other operational requirements involving CAA’s and Airport Authorities.

Foreign nationals and their employers can expect immigration processing delays over the coming weeks in the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and parts of Asia during the observance of the month of Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr. Many government offices worldwide reduce their hours and/or close during Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr.

Algeria:  The month of Ramadan is expected to begin May 16 or 17 and end June 13 or 14, depending on lunar sightings.  While public offices are not officially closed during Ramadan, most government offices will open at 10:00 a.m. and close at 3:30 p.m.  Government offices will also likely be closed on Eid-al-Fitr.  Processing delays can be expected for initial and renewal applications due to the reduced working hours.

Bangladesh:  The month of Ramadan will begin on May 15. While government offices will operate with reduced workforce during this month and until June 17, they will be closed from June 15 to 17 in observance of Eid-ul-Fitr. Processing delays of pending applications should be expected throughout the month of Ramadan.

Brunei:  The Ramadan season will begin on May 16 in Brunei. Government offices, including the Immigration Department, Labour Department and Energy Industry Department (EID) are expected to operate with reduced hours throughout the month of Ramadan. Government offices will be closed for Hari Raya Aidilfitri on June 15 to June 18, depending on lunar sighting. Processing delays are expected throughout Ramadan and may continue for up to two weeks after Ramadan ends.

Indonesia:  The month of Ramadan is expected to begin on May 17 ending with Hari Raya Idul Fitri, which will fall on June 15. Most government offices and consular posts are expected to reduce their business days by one to two hours throughout the month of Ramadan, and closures will likely occur several days before and after the Idul Fitri holiday (around June 11 to 22) due to staffing shortages. Processing delays are expected to occur during this period.

Malaysia:  The month of Ramadan will begin on May 17. Government offices, including the Immigration Department and other Work Pass adjudicating departments such as the eXpats Centre of the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation Sdn. Bhd. and MYXpats Centre of the Expatriate Services Division, are expected to operate with reduced hours throughout the month of Ramadan. Government offices will be closed for Hari Raya Aidifitri from June 15 to 17. In addition to those days, eXpats Centre will also be closed on June 14. Processing delays are expected throughout the month of Ramadan and may continue for up to three weeks after the end of Ramadan.

Middle East/North Africa (Bahrain, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates):  The month of Ramadan is expected to start May 16 or 17 and last until June 14 or 15, 2018. Government offices across the Middle East will be working reduced hours during Ramadan, which may affect processing times for all immigration applications. Foreign nationals and employers are advised to check with the relevant office for exact hours of operation. Processing delays could continue in the weeks following Ramadan due to Eid-al-Fitr holiday and application backlogs that accumulate during the closures.

Turkey: Government offices will be closed June 14 (afternoon), June 15 (full day), and potentially June 18. Processing delays can be expected for initial and renewal applications due to government office closures.

Is North Korea safe to overfly again?

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

A friend of mine is a grumpy flight dispatcher at a Large Canadian Airline. We have a standing agreement that when North Korea “opens up”, we are going to open the first Irish Pub in Pyongyang.

We made the agreement during an inspection tour of North Korean missile launch sites in 2016, though we didn’t know that’s what we were doing at the time. We were there to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the national airline, Air Koryo, and get a glimpse of aviation in North Korea.

Aviation is different here.

When we asked if we could have a look at airside operations at Pyongyang airport, the officials gladly drove us out onto the ramp, and then the runway, dropping us off at the edge for an hour or so of getting as close as we liked to the steady stream of Soviet era Tupolev and Ilyushin landing traffic. Not a yellow jacket in sight.

Yes, aviation is different here. When you first arrive in Pyongyang, the flight attendants dutifully come through the cabin before landing and lower the window shades, so that you land in darkness. They don’t want you to see their military aircraft; they don’t want you to see much of anything at all.

During our eight days there, we flew to 6 or 7 different North Korean airports, trekking out to Pyongyang International each morning to jump on whatever Tu-134 or Il-62 was designated for us that day. We got used to being filmed a lot of the time by the secret service, especially on board the aircraft.

But we had fun, too. For the evening that was the anniversary party, we were taken to a Bond-esque giant villa in the countryside, owned by the airline, for a 13-course dinner, topped off with a performance by the flight attendants that we saw each day on our domestic flights.

One of our destinations was Wonsan. The airport there is of the ‘giant international’ variety, a gleaming construct of huge terminals, pristine taxiways and runways, perfectly marked to ICAO standard, completed in 2015 at a cost of $130m. We were the first passenger flight to land at the new airport, as no international airlines were operating here yet. Unsurprisingly, there are still no international airlines operating here.

Just out of sight, to the right of the threshold that we landed on, is also the Wonsan missile launch facility. From here, a Hwasong-10 ICBM was launched in the direction of Japan, on June 22nd 2016.

The North Korean military holds drills here, so sometimes the beach beside the airport looks like this:

And so, to the question. What do all the recent developments mean? Is North Korea “opening up”? Is it going to be safe to operate through the Pyongyang FIR?

A quick history of developments in the last few years:

  • Until around 2014, North Korea notified ICAO of all missile launches, so that aircraft could avoid the launch and splashdown areas.
  • In 2015, they gradually stopped doing this, reaching a point where there could be no confidence in an alert being issued to airlines by North Korea.
  • In 2016, airlines and aircraft operators started avoiding the Pyongyang FIR entirely, by the end of 2016 almost nobody was entering the airspace.
  • In 2017, more and more of these missiles came down in the Sea of Japan, increasingly closer to the Japanese landmass. FSB researched the locations and produced a map of the risk area, together with the article: “Here’s why North Korean missiles are now a real threat to Civil Aviation

In the last few months, there has been incredible development away from the stalemate that has marked the relationship between North Korea and international aviation. Political change precedes aviation change, and that political change is very promising. Given that the primary risk to aircraft operators stems from missile launches, it already appears very unlikely that there will be any further launches, especially unannounced ones.

NHK world reports that ICAO is in North Korea this week, and that one of the main questions will be “to ask North Korea how it will ensure the safety of civilian aviation in international air space.”

The likely answer is rather simple. “We won’t be firing any more missiles, and if we do, we’ll notify”. That answer would be sufficient to remove the warnings about the Pyongyang FIR currently in force, together with the Fukuoka FIR warnings for the Sea of Japan.

So, it seems very likely that in the coming months, we will start to see international traffic start to use the Pyongyang FIR again, and may even see some new airways being established. In the interim, and before we issue specific guidance, we’ll wait to see the results of the talks between ICAO and North Korea this week.

 

Further reading:

 

 

 

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.

Potholes at HKNW/Wilson Airport, Nairobi

Some pictures have been doing the rounds on social media showing huge potholes on some the taxiways and part of the runway at HKNW/Wilson — Nairobi’s second airport — and a DHC-8 Dash 8 aircraft which got stuck in the mud, trying to avoid them.

According to the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) website, Wilson Airport is “one of the busiest airports in terms of aircraft movement in East and Central Africa. However, so far the KAA have not issued any warnings on either their website or by Notam regarding the poor state of the taxiways and runway.

Venezuela crisis: the impact on international ops

All operators, in particular those with an N-reg on the tail, should be aware of the rapidly deepening political and economic crisis in Venezuela.

There are shortages of food and many basic goods across the country. Since the start of 2018, there have numerous reports of boats full of starving Venezuelans, many of which left the country illegally, turning up on the shores of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. The U.N. is now warning of a humanitarian “catastrophe”, as worsening food shortages have seen looting and protests escalate over the past few months, claiming the lives of at least seven people so far.

In recent months, Colombia has tightened controls along it’s border with Venezuela, to try to curb the flow of thousands of migrants seeking to escape.

Here’s a summary of the current situation:

SVMI/Caracas Airport

  • The airport is located in an extremely high-risk area for armed robbery and kidnappings. Before suspending all flights to Venezuela in Aug 2017, Avianca hired bodyguards after shots were fired during a robbery of a bus carrying its crew. Some other carriers took to flying crew to spend the night in neighbouring countries, rather than risk staying overnight anywhere in Caracas. In Feb 2018, Ecuadorian state airline Tame joined Avianca in a long list of airlines that no longer operate to the country, including: Aerolineas Airlines, United Airlines, Aeromexico, Lufthansa, Alitalia and Air Canada. Most reports estimate that international traffic in Venezuela has dropped by around 65-75% since its peak in 2013.
  • Reports of airport officials detaining some passengers for long periods, often demanding bribes and confiscating personal items. The US have warned that “security forces have arbitrarily detained U.S. citizens for long periods”, and that “the U.S. Embassy may not be notified of the detention of a U.S. citizen, and consular access to detainees may be denied or severely delayed.”
  • Colombia’s pilots’ association says its members who have flown to Venezuela have had to deal with contaminated fuel and hours-long delays as the National Guard pulls suitcases off flights to loot them.
  • On Aug 8, 2017, a Venezuelan lawyer was shot dead at a ticket counter at SVMI/Caracas airport. In 2016, an Egyptian visitor was killed walking outside the airport between terminals after arriving on a flight from Germany.
  • Frequent power and water cut across the country. The airport suffered power cuts in Dec 2017 and again in Mar 2018, forcing the suspension of all ops for several hours each time.

Travel advice   Western countries are all now recommending against “all but essential travel”. A large majority of airline carriers have now stopped operating to Venezuela, for a mix of reasons – not least because onward payment of ticket monies have been stopped by the Venezuelan government. The US describes the greatest current risks as social unrest, violent crime, pervasive food and medicine shortages, and the arbitrary arrest and detention on U.S. citizens.

Sanctions   Both the EU and the US have imposed sanctions on Venezuela, with specific restrictions on President Maduro himself. This creates an uncertain situation for foreign aircraft operating in Venezuelan airspace. So far there have not been any reported cases of any retaliatory sanctions, such as grounding of foreign aircraft, although with the crisis worsening, such measures are not out of the question.

Notable withdrawals   On August 1st, the UK Foreign Office followed the US in withdrawing family of personnel from their respective embassies. This is a common precursor to a deeper security risk, and in the last 5 years we’ve seen this pattern in Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Then in Jan 2018, IATA closed its offices in Venezuela. They said that the exchange controls the government placed on taking money out of the country effectively left it with a debt to IATA of $3.8 billion, which it refused to pay.

Flight Ops   See below on overflight. There were interruptions to Notam and Metar service throughout 2017. At one point it appeared that SV** had lost its connection to the international AFTN system.

Airport Spy   The most recent OpsGroup member reports are not encouraging. The top report on SVMI is titled “Hazardous in Caracas”: “The operating conditions in Caracas have deteriorated to a new level. New ATC controllers that have been installed in the last few months do not speak English very well, if at all, and in some cases and they are issuing clearances not appropriate for IFR or terrain clearance. Tremendous caution should be exercised especially when moving internally within Venezuela. SVMI authorities are now demanding to see the complete insurance policy for the aircraft, not just proof of insurance. We had Spanish speaking personnel with us and when we questioned a local SVMI controller about not using English, his response was that we should all be speaking Spanish! “. More in AirportSpy. If you’ve been through recently, add your report.

Overflight   Operations through Venezuelan airspace do not require an overflight permit, and so there have been no incidences recorded of US aircraft being denied a permit. However, on several occasions in the last month, Venezuela has for short periods arbitrarily closed its airspace to overflying aircraft. A common problem with Venezuelan overflight is the denial of airspace entry due to unpaid navigation fees, which is why checking this in advance is recommended. This may be a tool used to deny US aircraft entry in the future. Plan operations through the SVZM/Maiquetia FIR with caution. To be clear, we do not assess any risk to enroute aircraft, but be mindful of the fact that if you do enter SVZM airspace, you may end up diverting to an SV** airport. Right now, that’s not ideal.

Avoiding Venezuela  If you elect to avoid SVZM airspace…

To the west:
– via Colombia (SKED/Bogota FIR) – permit required for all overflights.
– watch out if planning a flight through the TNCF/Curacao FIR – although a permit to overfly is not required here, they have started denying entry to non-IATA members if they have not prepaid for navigation fees in advance. More on that here.

To the east:
– via Guyana (SYGC/Georgetown FIR) – permit not required
– via Suriname (SMPM/Paramaribio FIR) – permit required
– via French Guyana (SOOO/Rochambeau FIR) – permit required unless operating a GA aircraft under 12.5k lbs.

For more detailed info on each country’s specific permit requirements, take a look here.

If you need a tech stop and previously used/considered SVMI, then look at alternatives like TNCC, TTPP, SBEG, SMJP. Use the OpsGroup planning map to figure your best alternate options.

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