International Ops 2018

Flight Service Bureau | OPSGROUP

Category: News Item (page 2 of 10)

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.

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.

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.

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:

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:

French ATC Strike November 2017

The ATC strike seems to be winding down. The only en-route regulations still in place are in the LFBB/Bordeaux and LFRR/Brest sectors in the West. At the airports, some delays of around 30-40 minutes are expected between 17-19z, but generally the situation seems to be stable.

Impact

Here’s the situation for en-route traffic across the various sectors:

LFBB/Bordeaux: Whole airspace regulated with moderate to high delays.

LFRR/Brest: Whole airspace regulated with moderate to high delays.

LFEE/Reims: No regulations for en-route traffic, but expect delays at both the LFSB/Basel and LFST/Strasbourg TMA’s.

LFFF/Paris: No regulations for en-route traffic, but arrivals are currently being regulated at LFPO/Paris Orly.

LFMM/Marseille: No regulations.

For real-time updates of any airspace issues, keep an eye on this handy French ATC webpage: http://dsnado.canalblog.com/

Reroutes

TANGO Routes
Low delays on T9 and T213 – these are available for suitably equipped aircraft. Read “The Three Sisters” for more info on those. For oceanic clearance on Tango routes during the strike, you need to make sure you request your oceanic clearance 45 minutes before entry to the ocean.

Re-routes through Algeria
If you want to avoid French airspace by flying through DAAA/Algeria instead, you can do so – and until the end of the strike, you won’t have to get an overflight permit. Just make sure you send a new FPL (plus any subsequent DLA messages) to DAAAZQZX and DTTCZQZX addresses, as they will not have received the original FPL.

Depending on where you’re flying to/from, here’s what you need to do:

1. All traffic overflying DAAA/Algeria airspace with destination within the LECB/Barcelona FIR must file via point LUXUR at FL300 or above, and at only EVEN flight levels.Traffic dest LEPA/Palma via LUXUR should FPL UM134-LUXUR-GENIO-UN859-OSGAL with STAR OSGAL.

2. All traffic departing from the LECB/Barcelona FIR and overflying DAAA/Algeria must file via point SADAF at FL310 or above, and at only ODD flight levels.

3. All traffic departing from LEPA/Palma to any airport in DAAA/Algeria must file max FL290 over point SADAF. Departures from LEPA/Palma must also file SID MEBUT: MEBUT-NINES-UM134-OLMIR-UN861-SADAF at FL290.

4. Entering GMMM/Morocco via DTTC/Tunisia and DAAA/Algeria:

  • Route: DOPEL UM126 KAWKA UG14 CSO UA31 CHE shall be used. DAAA/Algeria ATC will tactically approve direct routing to ALR where possible.
  • Route: DOPEL DCT LUXUR SADAF CHE cannot be planned.

5. Entering DAAA/Algeria and DTTC/Tunisia then LIRR/Italy from GMMM/Morocco:

  • Route: CHE UA31 CSO UG14 KAWKA UM126 DOPEL shall be used. DAAA/Algeria ATC will tactically approve direct routing from ALR where possible.
  • Route: Traffic between DAAA/Algeria and DTTC/Tunisia via SADAF-KAWKA at FL300 and above (only even flight levels).

Re-routes through Tunisia
Tunisia also let operators fly through their airspace when there’s a French ATC strike on, without having to get a permit. Just make sure you copy your FPL (plus any subsequent DLA messages) to DTTCZQZX and DTTCZRZX.

Even when there’s no strike going on, there are a bunch of routes you can use through DTTC/Tunisia airspace that do not require overflight permission. These are:

a) Traffic between DTTC/Tunisia and DAAA/Algeria via DOPEL-LUXUR at FL310 and above (only ‘odd’ flight levels)

b) Traffic between DAAA/Algeria and DTTC/Tunisia via SADAF-KAWKA-DOPEL at FL300 and above (only ‘even’ flight levels)

During the strike, they also open up routes connecting LMMM/Malta with DAAA/Algeria, for flights from Europe to Africa and South America. For that, you should file FPL using following routes:

  • Route: PAN – BIRSA – ELO (after ELO traffic can fly DCT GHA) at FL195-465 to be filed for traffic destination West Africa and South America, or
  • Route: PAN – RALAK – EBA at FL195-465 to be filed for traffic destination South/South West of Africa.

 

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