International Ops 2018

Flight Service Bureau | OPSGROUP

Category: Briefings (page 2 of 23)

Here’s what happens when Europe’s slot system crashes

On 3rd April 2018, a failure with the central European slot computer plunged the entire ATC system into crisis mode, with multiple knock on effects. Here’s what happened:

1. The system that allocates ATC slots to flights, and therefore manages the flow of traffic across Europe, failed at 1026 UTC. It’s called the ETFMS (Enhanced Tactical Flow Management System), but aka “The Slot Computer”

2. There is a Contingency Plan for this situation. Airports are supposed to use this, which gives a quick table of departure intervals allowed according to the destination. You can view the plan here and see what it looks like for all the main airports: http://www.eurocontrol.int/publications/network-manager-atfcm-procedural-contingency-plan

3. Some airlines reported that Istanbul, amongst others, were initially holding all departures, as local authorities were not well versed in the Contingency Plan and were unclear as to how to handle the situation. Eurocontrol then started calling round the 70 main airports to make sure they knew what they were supposed to do!

4. All flight plans filed before 1026Z were lost. Operators were instructed to re-file all their FPL’s, as well as those for the rest of the day, as Eurocontrol said they would only switch back on the slot computer once they reached a critical mass of filed flight plans in the system.

5. With the Contingency Plan in place, there was around a 10% total capacity reduction across the whole of Europe. Actual delay numbers – usually available on the NOP – were impossible to verify, because of all the missing FPL’s in the system.

6. Normally, Eurocontrol will re-address your FPL to ATC Centres outside the IFPZ. During the slot computer outage, operators had to do this manually, ie. find the FIR’s they would cross, get their AFTN addresses (like HECCZQZX), and send them their FPL.

7. The actual system failure was fixed at around 1400Z, but only went back online at around 1800Z, after it had been thoroughly tested and Eurocontrol were happy there were enough FPL’s back in the system.

In over 20 years of operation, Eurocontrol said “the ETFMS has only had one other outage which occurred in 2001. The system currently manages up to 36,000 flights a day.”

Expect breathalyzer during German Ramp checks

German authorities confirm they have been conducting random breathalyzer tests during ramp checks since as far back as Jan 2017, despite this not being part of the official EU SAFA ramp inspection guidelines.

In Dec 2016, following the accident of the Germanwings Flight 9525, EASA published a proposal to the European Commission to better support pilot mental fitness. One of their recommendations was to introduce random alcohol screening as a part of ramp checks within the EU.

Although that proposal has still not been adopted yet, local authorities in Germany say they can still perform these tests on the basis of German national law alone.

Have you had a recent ramp check anywhere with any surprise items not part of the standard checklist? Comment below…

Further reading

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:

New route requirements for Iceland

There are some new route requirements for eastbound departures from BIKF/Keflavik and BIRK/Reykjavik. Two new waypoints, PODAR and RAPAX are being introduced from Mar 29 onwards.

Below is the updated version of Iceland AIP ENR 1.8.4.1.3.7 which explains exactly how you should file your flight plans to/from both BIKF and BIRK, and the new routes are highlighted:

To make all this blurb easier to understand, the good folks at Isavia have published some handy graphic presentations of the requirements for eastbound departures from BIKF and BIRK:

If you follow the guidance and flight plan accordingly, you should avoid any nasty last-minute “FPL REJ” messages!

Further reading:

  • You can check the full Iceland AIP online here.
  • For a summary of all the NAT changes, including EGGX/Shanwick, CZQX/Gander, BIRD/Iceland, ENOB/Bodo, LPPO/Santa Maria, and KZWY/New York Oceanic East, click here.

New rules for charter flights to Greece

On Mar 23, the Greek CAA introduced a new rule requiring charter flights on non EU-registered aircraft with up to 19 seats to apply for an annual TCO license before operating to Greece.

This is in addition to having to obtain the standard landing permit, as well as the TCO approval from EASA.

So far, the CAA haven’t officially published an English version of the new rule anywhere, although they say that it will be updated in the AIP at some point. But as handling in Greece is mandatory, they decided to distribute the information to all handling agents & aviation service providers in Greece for them to notify their customers directly.

Click here for the translated version of that document, with all the info you need to know about how to apply.

It looks like you can’t apply for this new TCO license through the CAA directly; you can only do so through your “legal representative in Greece” – which can be your handling agent, allowing at least 5 working days to obtain the license if all submitted paperwork is correct.

Fixing Notams – we’re on it. Help us.

OK. We’re done writing articles about it, and making goat jokes – we’ve moved the “Fixing Notams” job to the top of our list..

OpsGroup is all about information – getting the essential risks and changes that flight ops personnel need to know about into their hands without delay. Our group agrees – plenty of colourful comments on Notams from members.

Now we want your ideas and opinions on the fix.

Here’s our ask:

1. Rate the current system – and then click the things you would like to see.

2. If you’re in charge of a group of people – whether you are the Chief Pilot at Lufthansa, the Tower Chief in Shannon, or manage an Ops team of two – Get this out to your people and ensure everyone has their say.

Forward this to your team of ATCO’s, Pilots, Dispatchers:

We especially want to hear from pilots, controllers, and dispatchers, and if you read on, you’ll see why.

Do it like this:

  • Send them the survey link: https://fsb1.typeform.com/to/irZiFM
  • OR, click here for a magic pre-written email
  • OR, send them a link to flightservicebureau.org/notams
  • OR, share this facebook post:

The survey direct link is: https://fsb1.typeform.com/to/irZiFM


The Solution

If you took the survey, you saw this:

That part is pretty easy – presenting the Output of the system is a straightforward enough task.

The Input part – that’s where the real work is.

First, we are working on an Artificial Intelligence answer to finding Critical Notams in the current legacy system. This will allow us to present the data flow in order of what matters, and leave those cranes, birds, and grass cutters right at the bottom.

Second,

If you read my article on MH17 – a darker truth, you’ll understand why it’s important to open up the system to allow a trusted group to shape the information flow.

That begins with Pilots, Air Traffic Controllers, and Dispatchers. I have the great fortune to be all three, and it’s very clear to me that just like Trip Advisor – and our own “Airport Spy” in OpsGroup – this idea will work. We’ve already seen in OpsGroup how much we trust the information from other users in our group.

It’s key to the future trust of the Notam system. Which we should rename, but that’s another days work.

If you got this far, thank you for being part of the solution! You can always write me a note at mark@fsbureau.org

Thanks!
Mark.

Aerolineas aircraft grounded due to hail damage

The Argentinian airline Aerolineas has suspended domestic ticket sales until Mar 25. They say multiple aircraft were recently damaged by hail in SABE/Buenos Aires during a storm on Mar 14, which means they now need to reprogram their schedule until the aircraft get fixed.

The aircraft that sustained the damage were 15 Boeing 737’s in the airline’s domestic and regional fleet. Strangely, perhaps, no other airlines have reported similar damage to their aircraft from the storm.

Aerolineas say they are now assessing the aircraft damage with help from Boeing, with the hope that they will have most of the aircraft back in operation before the Easter travel weekend.

Cape Town – No Fuel!

FACT/Cape Town is facing a fuel restriction, no fuel available as of now (20 MAR 2018). The reason for the restriction is not known, but we have reached out to several suppliers who have all confirmed the same information.

We’re checking up to find the reasoning, as well as an estimated date of availability.

If you have any additional information, you can reach out at team@flightservice.org

Countries with bans on flights to Israel

Which countries have banned both direct flights and overflying traffic to/from Israel?

It’s a question we get asked a lot. Here’s the answer:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE, Yemen.

These countries do not officially recognise Israel, and prohibit flights going to/from Israel from using their airspace.

The two exceptions we’ve spotted are:
1. In March 2018, Saudi Arabia started giving Air India permission to use its airspace on flights between VIDP/Delhi and LLBG/Tel Aviv, thus marking the end of the 70-year airspace ban that Saudi Arabia had in place against flights to/from Israel.
2. Sudan, who regularly allow Ethiopian Airlines to use their airspace for their Addis Ababa to Tel Aviv flights:

But for everyone else wanting to do private or non-scheduled flights to/from Israel, Sudan airspace is off-limits.

For anyone wanting to get from Israel to Asia, there is a narrow corridor available down the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and across the Indian Ocean. This takes advantage of the fact that most countries operate with a 12NM rule – that is, if you’re in their FIR, and you’re 12NM away from the landmass, you don’t need a permit.

Israel’s national carrier El Al operates a couple of scheduled flights on this basis – one to Mumbai, and another to Bangkok:

There is no airway down the Red Sea between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, so you have to fly a direct route between the FIRs. As reported by an Opsgroup member, here’s how it works:

FL290 for southbound traffic, and FL300 for northbound. ATC at both Cairo and Saudi FIRs are used to that. When departing from Israel and going southbound, after losing radar contact with Cairo, you are on your own. Report on Africa VHF freq that you are "over International waters southbound / northbound etc." Listen to Saudi control and try to call them - but do not expect an answer. You will need to maintain your own separation visually, although the Saudis will see you on their radar and they are used to jets flying there. Keep your landing lights on 'pulse' for any opposite traffic. Contact Asmara (Eritrea) control 10NM before entering their FIR. Use SAT phone if no one answers on VHF.

On the reverse side, Israel only allow overflights of their airspace to Royal Jordanian Airlines, and only when departing from or flying to the following airports: CYUL/Montreal, EHBK/Maastricht, KDTW/Detroit, KORD/Chicago, LTAC/Ankara.

Although it’s technically possible for other operators to apply for an overflight permit, it can take up to 30 days, and it’s highly unlikely you’ll get approved unless you’re operating some kind of diplomatic or state flight.

More information:

  • For direct flights to Israel, you can only operate from certain authorised airports. See the list of airports 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!

  • Does anything in this article look wrong to you? Let us know, so we can fix it!

Kurdistan airports to re-open

The Iraqi Prime Minister has lifted the government ban on international flights to the Kurdish airports ORER/Erbil and ORSU/Sulaymaniyah.

The central government will take full control of the airports, and will start allowing international flights to resume in the coming days. No international flights have operated from these airports since the end September 2017. Their closure was seen as a punitive measure taken by the Iraqi central government following the September 25th independence referendum in the Kurdistan Region.

The authorities have now withdrawn the Notams that were previously in place for both of these airports advising that they were closed to international flights. Both Iran and Turkey currently still have Notams in place prohibiting flights to these airports from using their airspace – but we expect these to be updated soon to reflect the lifting of the ban.

A0661/18 NOTAMR A6765/17
Q) LTXX/QAFXX/IV/NBO/E /000/999/3901N03524E465
A) LTAA LTBB B) 1802010551 C) 1803312359 EST
E) ALL TFC FROM/TO ORSU AND ORER AERODROMES (ALSO AS ALTERNATE
AERODROME) ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO USE TURKISH AIRSPACE UNTIL FURTHER
NOTICE EXC EMERGENCY, AMBULANCE AND HUMANITARIAN AID FLIGHTS.
A0223/18 NOTAMR A3746/17
Q) OIIX/QAFXX/E/000/999/
A) OIIX B) 1801160610 C) 1804160600 EST
E) ALL TRAFFIC FM OR TO ORSU AND ORER ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO USE
TEHRAN FIR.

Further reading:

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