International Ops 2018

Flight Service Bureau | OPSGROUP

Category: Safety

Eruption possible: Öræfajökull volcano, Iceland

The Department of Civil and Emergency Management in Iceland have issued a new status for Öræfajökull volcano saying that it shows clear signs of unrest. They added that the volcano is in typical preparation stage before an eruption.

For more than 250 years Öræfajökull has been lying dormant. The volcano is covered with an ice cap which forms the southernmost part of Vatnajökull glacier. The cauldron formed last winter in the ice cap of the volcano’s crater.

The mountain stands at 2,110 m (6,921 ft) above sea-level.

If it does erupt – it has the potential to cause significant impact to aviation across the Atlantic. We all still remember Eyjafjallajökull !

You can keep updated by keeping an eye on

EU SAFA ramp checks NOT on the rise – but are you ready for one?

In Short: SAFA ramp checks are continuing at the normal pace. Avoid the common mistakes of Fuel/Calc and Flight Routing (with SID/STAR), PRNAV/RNAV-1, incorrect flight plans and TCAS 7.1. If you do get a finding, expect to get a follow up ramp check the next few times you visit, to ensure compliance.

There have been more reports in Airport Spy recently which suggest there may be an increase in SAFA (Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft) ramp checks in Europe. So we reached out to a dozen SAFA offices around Europe to check if it was true.

Here’s what they told us:

  1. No, they’re not conducting significantly more ramp checks at the moment.
  2. No, they’re not looking more closely at certain items.
  3. Rather, the items checked during the SAFA/SACA inspections are based on a risk based approach and can differ from operator to operator (for example depending on findings raised during previous inspections). Meaning that operators who get ramp checked with findings will most likely get ramp checked again, to see if they’ve sorted out the problems!

Common Findings

But what are some common findings and the things to make sure you are doing right so you don’t get caught out?

  1. Fuel Calculation and Flight Routing: Alternates must be planned with a SID/STAR routing.

In many parts of the world it is common to plan DCT but not in many European countries. Non-compliance during a ramp inspection could lead to either a Cat 2 finding when sufficient fuel was taken into account such that the required fuel is above the minimum, or a Cat 3 finding when this was not the case.

  1. PRNAV/RNAV-1 capability.

Non-compliance constitutes a Cat 3 finding when landing at airports (such as EHAM/Amsterdam) that require it. The finding will also be reported to the aeronautical oversight department who can give fines for such violations.

  1. Filing incorrect flight plans – specifically saying you are 8.33 MHz equipped and PRNAV/RNAV-1 capable.

Again, this could lead to findings and fines beyond the SAFA programme. An easy one to miss.

  1. TCAS 7.1

The TCAS 7.1 requirement became mandatory in EU Airspace from 1st of December 2015 and became a worldwide standard under ICAO from 1st of January 2017.  One to also watch out for if operating to EU overseas territories in the Caribbean where this requirement has also been implemented and during ramp inspections is enforced the same way.

How to prepare for one?

We wrote a 2017 article all about how to make a ramp check painless.

We have also updated the FSB SAFA Ramp Checklist. Download it here.

Keep a copy with you and run through it before you head towards the EU.

Back in 2016, EASA published new guidelines for inspectors to assess which aircraft should be prioritised for SAFA ramp checks in Europe and SAFA compliant states. For an overview of those guidelines, check out our article.

Have you been ramp checked recently? Let us know, by joining OpsFox! This is a community system, where every Pilot, Air Traffic Controller, Dispatcher, Handler, and CAA can add categorized reports, based on what they see and know at their home base or visited airport. Opsfox blurs the white noise and keeps only the relevant and current information at your fingertips, before you fly.

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:

The only airport in the world with a mandatory wind limit

A slightly skeewiff statue of Cristiano Ronaldo is the most notable thing about LPMA/Funchal Airport which, since last year, has been known as Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport.

Before that, however, the airport on Madeira’s east coast was better known for hosting one of the world’s most challenging approaches and landings.

The airport’s runway is often buffeted by Atlantic winds, while its proximity to the mountains and ocean present yet more difficulties. Pilots scheduled to arrive here must undergo additional training, studying the approach in detail. Airlines wishing to fly into Funchal – sorry, Ronaldo – require special approval from the Portuguese aviation authority.

Earlier this year the Association of Portuguese Airline Pilots (APPLA) said it was vital that the airport closes when winds exceed the maximum limits (depending on wind direction). In a statement it said that “there are limits to anything in aviation. These limits generally exist for several reasons, including safety issues”. APPLA was concerned there had been some 20 commercial landings in the first half of 2017 when the wind had been exceeding limits.

What are these limits?

The Portuguese AIP warns that:

The Airport is located on a plateau on the east coast of Madeira Island. Except for the seaside, ground raises rapidly very closed to it. This fact generates, very often, wind variation and turbulence. Also severe low altitude wind shear conditions and / or micro burst are likely to be encountered.

Wind Limitations

When landing

Maximum of two minutes mean Wind Speed Values indicated by the Touchdown anemometer:

  • In the sector 300° to 010° MAG (clockwise) – 15KT, with the maximum Wind Gust of 25KT
  • In the sector 020° to 040° MAG (clockwise) – 20KT, with the maximum Wind Gust of 30KT
  • In the sector 120° to 190° MAG (clockwise), and if Runway in use is 05 – 20KT with a maximum Wind Gust of 30KT, and if Runway in use is 23 – 15KT, subject also to maximum Wind Gust of 25KT as indicated by MID Anemometer.

Maximum of two minutes mean Wind Speed Values, including Gust indicated by the MID or ROSÁRIO Anemometers

  • In the Sector 200º to 230º MAG (clockwise) – 25KT.

When Taking-off

Maximum of two minutes mean Wind Speed Values indicated by the MID anemometer:

  • In the sector 300° to 010° MAG (clockwise) – 20KT with no Gust limitations
  • In the sector 020° to 040° MAG (clockwise) – 25KT with no Gust limitations
  • In the sector 120° to 190° MAG (clockwise) and if Runway in use is 05 – 25KT with no Gust limitations, and if Runway in use is 23 – 20KT, also with no Gust limitations

NOTE: The limitations above do not supersede any Operators or Aircraft Operations Manual (AOM) limitations if these are more restrictive

Turbulence

  • Attention should be paid to the WIND DIRECTION INDICATORS located on the south side of the runway, near each touchdown area. They will reflect unexpected wind changes. Occasionally they will indicate wind from opposite directions;
  • When landing on RWY 05 wind differences greater than 5 KT, between Rosário and MID anemometers, may indicate turbulence on final;
  • When landing on RWY 23 with winds from South and Westerly Sectors, one may experience severe turbulence at low altitude over the RWY Threshold;
  • Headwind or nearly so, up to 15 KT will cause “WEAK” turbulence on final;
  • Wind of 15 KT from sector 020° to 050° MAG (clockwise) may cause “MODERATE” turbulence;
  • Wind of 15 KT or even less from sector 300° to 020° MAG (clockwise) may cause “SEVERE” turbulence;
  • Down drafts or up drafts are to be expected near the threshold of runways 05 and 23.

NOTE: Pilots are strongly requested to report to the Control Tower as soon as possible any turbulence and/or windshear that may affect operational conditions.

There have been recent attempts of political intervention by the Vice President of the Regional Government, Pedro Calado. He met recently with aviation officials in Lisbon but to no avail. He expressed to his amazement at the fact that the limits set for Madeira Airport have not been changed since 1964.

Calado says that “what is happening at Madeira Airport is unusual, it is the only airport in the world that has mandatory limits, meaning that even if the commanders consider having safety conditions to land, if the wind limits are above stipulated, can not do so under penalty of ANAC suspending its license to fly. ”

He is right about that. Air Traffic Control won’t stop you from making an approach and landing if the wind limits are exceeded but they will promptly report all flights having done so to the authorities back on the mainland. There have been threats of license and airline operational approval suspensions in the past.

Looks pretty fun though!

Have you flown into the airport recently and can update our opsgroup members? Drop us a line: bulletin@fsbureau.org

Extra Information:

  • The airport’s runway, supported by columns that lift it 70 metres above the ocean, extends out over what was once a beach. The construction of it began in 1983 after a Boeing 727 operated by TAP Portugal overshot the original runway in 1977 in windy and rain conditions, landing past the threshold before aquaplaning and sliding off the runway and plunging off a steep bank. The aircraft crashed into a bridge, split into two and burst into flames, killing 131 of the 164 on board. The accident remains TAP Portugal’s only fatal accident and the second deadliest in Portugal.
  • Portugal AIP
  • Pilot’s Briefing Room – Funchal 
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