International Ops 2017

Flight Service Bureau | OPSGROUP

Category: Special Report (page 1 of 9)

Qatar update – it’s getting worse

Following OpsGroup Note 28 on Monday (“Qatar sanctions“), there are some important new additions to the sanctions that all operators should be aware of:

Effective today, Bahrain now requires Special Authorisation for all traffic inbound to and out of Qatar. This one is critical because Bahrain controls almost all of the airspace around and over Qatar.

That requirement was just published today, Wednesday in Notam A0210/17. The preamble states that no Qatari registered aircraft can fly through Bahraini airspace. This one seems like it would be a big issue for Qatar Airways, but for all other international operators, the next part is equally important:

“Operators not registered in Kingdom of Bahrain intending to use Bahrain Airspace from or to the state of Qatar require approval from Bahrain CAA”

That means everyone now needs permission to get into Doha, because you can’t get into the Doha TMA without going through Bahrain Airspace, unless you are planning to route through Saudi Arabia (which already has that requirement). Check the map again below.

OBBB/BAHRAIN A0210/17 07JUN 1140Z

CAA ON THE FLW CONTACT: TEL:00973 17329035 / 00973 17329069

Jordan has joined the team

Governments of Jordan, Libya, Maldives and Mauritania have joined the other countries in severing their diplomatic ties with Qatar. The closure of borders with neighboring countries and the withdrawal of the diplomatic staff from various embassies in the region have resulted in restrictions on travel to and from Qatar.

Qatari Nationals

Qatar has urged its nationals to comply with the decision of the countries involved and leave the territories of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) within 14 days of June 5, 2017. Qatari nationals should contact the respective consular posts abroad for assistance with travel arrangements and travel back to the country via Kuwait or Oman.

Bahraini, Saudi and UAE Nationals

Bahraini, Saudi and the UAE authorities have announced bans for their nationals from travelling, transiting or residing in Qatar. Those currently in Qatar are requested to leave as soon as possible.

Other Foreign Nationals Residing in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

Holders of Residency Visas from Qatar will face difficulties in obtaining Visit Visas to countries which have closed their diplomatic representations in Doha, Qatar, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Foreign nationals residing in Qatar applying for visas to Egypt or Saudi Arabia may have to travel back to their home country to do so.

It is likely that foreign nationals residing in Qatar will face restrictions in obtaining a GCC Resident Visitor Visa to enter Bahrain or the UAE. Foreign nationals who are not eligible for a visa-on-arrival based on their nationality should prearrange their visas in advance and seek out other categories of sponsorship including airlines, hotels or tourist agencies.

It is unclear whether there will be any impact on foreign national residents of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE seeking entry to Qatar based on the GCC Resident Visitor Visa.

Courier Services

Courier services and document deliveries between Qatar and Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are severely delayed. The majority of carriers are rerouting their shipments, while others, including FedEx, have suspended their services between the affected countries.


The Qatari-based broadcaster Al Jazeera has been banned in a number of countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The Qatari beIN Sports channel has been suspended in the UAE.

The UAE’s General Prosecutor warned against showing any sympathy for Qatar on social media which is considered a cybercrime, punishable by law.



Members Note 28: Qatar Sanctions

OPSGROUP Note to Members 28 is published on Qatar Sanctions.

As of today, Monday June 5th, there are several new sanctions affecting operations in the Middle East if any part of your flight involves Qatar. Primarily this will affect ops to/from OTHH (the primary Doha airport) and OTBD.

Because of sanctions applied by other Middle Eastern countries, you will find restrictions applied for these operations. If you are a Qatari-registered aircraft, then most of these countries are completely off limits, otherwise the specifics are as follows:

  • Egypt: You now need permission to overfly Egypt if operating to Qatar. +202 22678535, 24175605, or AFTN HECAYAYX
  • Bahrain: You cannot operate from an airport in Bahrain to an airport in Qatar, and vv. 
  • Saudi Arabia: Special permission required to overfly/depart Saudi to Qatar. Call +966115253336, email 
  • UAE (Emirates FIR): Ops to Qatar require special approval on +971 50 642 4911 or via email at AVSEC-DI@GCAA.GOV.AE

ATC Routings

OTHH is a busy airport. Traffic to and from Qatar, much of which is now banned from neighbouring countries, will reroute primarily into Iran.

Iran has published a Traffic Orientation Scheme.

– Qatar outbound Northbound via Tehran FIR-Ankara FIR. FL150-FL190 routing RAGAS-UT430-LAGSA -UL223-TESVA/ALRAM.
– Qatar outbound Southbound via Muscat and Karachi FIRs, FL150-FL190 via RAGAS-M561-ASVIB (KARACHI FIR), and RAGAS-M561-KHM-NEW FIR (MUSCAT FIR)-BUBAS
Inbound to Qatar from North: FL240-FL300 via ALRAM-UT36-MIDSI
Inbound to Qatar from South: FL240-FL260 via N312/A453-MIDSI.

Qatar and Bahrain


Qatar does not have its own FIR. It sits entirely within the Bahrain FIR. For this reason, Bahrain’s position on airspace availability to traffic to and from Qatar is critical. The Doha TMA extends from SFC to FL245. Above that sits the Bahrain UIR.

Visa situation – impact

The following is a summary of the impact of the entry, residency and transit ban:

  • Qatari nationals in the region:  Qatari nationals will be denied entry, residency and transit through the territories of the Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
  • Qatari nationals in UAE:  Qatari diplomatic staff will have 48 hours to leave, and regular Qatari nationals must exit the country in the next 14 days.
  • Bahraini, Egyptian, Saudi, UAE, and Yemeni nationals: UAE and Bahraini authorities have announced bans for their nationals from travelling, transiting or residing in Qatar. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen have not yet applied similar restrictions on their nationals. 

…. full note available in your  OPSGROUP Dashboard.


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Qatar – What We Know

There have been many reports of countries cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar.  We’ll leave the speculation to the media, we want to break down what it means for operators and aircraft owners.  Just the facts.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, UAE, Libya, Yemen, Maldives, and Mauritius have all cut diplomatic ties with Qatar.

As of now, only Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and UAE have placed flight restrictions on flights to/from Qatar. No known restrictions (beyond those known for Libya and Yemen anyhow) for the remaining countries mentioned in reports.

The new regulations are quite clear. You cannot overfly or land at any airport in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, or UAE with a Qatari registered aircraft. If you have a non-Qatari registered aircraft, and need to operate to/from Qatar and use the mentioned countries airspace you’ll need special approvals from the authorities below:

Saudi Arabia GACA:

Egypt ECAA:
+202 22678535
+202 24175605

+971 50 642 4911


No special exemptions have been mentioned by Bahrain, but they’ve given the following routing for those effected by the restrictions:


Due to the situation, Iran has published special routing schemes for transitioning their airspace, as they’ll get quite busy:

Qatar to Ankara:

Qatar to Muscat and Karachi FIR:
FL150-FL19, expect climb after KIS
RAGAS-M561-ASVIB (To Karachi)
RAGAS-M561-KHM-BUBAS (To Muscat)

Ankara to Qatar:
Between FL240 to FL300, ALRAM-UT36-MIDSI

Muscat to Karachi to Qatar:
Between FL240 to FL260, N312/A453-MIDSI

Also, if flying from Ankara to UAE (except OMAA), use the below routing:

The situation is fluid, and we will update this post as we continue to collect news.

Greek Summer Ops – Prepare for Pain

The challenges of operating to Greece during the summer look to be far worse than normal this year.

Fraport are not off to a good start with non-scheduled flights and business aviation. On April 11th this year, they took over control of 14 international airports from the state: Aktion, Chania, Corfu, Kavala, Kefalonia, Kos, Lesvos, Mykonos, Rhodes, Samos, Santorini, Skiathos, Thessaloniki and Zakynthos.

Initial reports on the Fraport change from OPSGROUP members are not positive:

“During the last few weeks, it has become clear that operations to these airports (including all popular Islands – Kos, Rhodes, Mykonos etc) is a nightmare. Very few slots are made available to non-scheduled ops, overnight parking is scarce, even quick turn arounds are extremely difficult in some cases. As a pilot flying in this area in the last 20 years, I have never seen such difficulty in operating.”

Previously, LGMK/Mykonos was usually the only airport in the last 3 years to have parking problems. The parking Notams were limiting stays to 2-3 hours from June till September. Now, the max parking time there is 1 hour, PPR was introduced last year but we managed to have them “flexible” with the right handler. Now, with Fraport, no flexibility allowed.

When we tried to fly to LGKO/Kos this weekend, we are forced to leave the ramp on Saturday at 8am local. Rhodes denied parking for 3 nights, which has never happened before…”

Last year, the capacity challenge at Greek Islands was most acute on weekends, with healthy slot delays if operating to LGIR/Iraklion, LGKP/Karpathos, LGMK/Mikonos, LGZA/Zakinthos, LGSR/Santorini, LGSK/Skiathos, or LGSA/Chania. Coupled with the Fraport changes, be prepared for difficulty in operating to Greece this summer.

The only answer is to plan as far ahead in advance as possible. We’d love to hear your reports from Greece – in Aireport if you are an OpsGroup member, or comment below if you’re not.

Indonesia is intercepting aircraft – outside their airspace

If you are operating in the Singapore FIR, consider this carefully: you may be overflying Indonesia without knowing it. Indonesia will know though, and they want you to have an overflight permit.

You will find out in one of three ways:

  1. You’ll be intercepted by two Indonesian Air Force Sukhoi 27/30 Flanker jets and brought to Indonesia
  2. You’ll receive a nastygram via your National Authority
  3. You’ll get a fine

2. and 3. are not cool, but 1. is something to avoid at all costs. The inside of military/police cells at outlying Indonesian Airports is not pretty.

Watch out for the following airways – M758, M646, M767, G334, M761, G580. These all pass over Indonesian territory, even though the area is actually part of the Singapore and Malaysia FIR’s.

Indonesia has a reputation for excessively strict enforcement of permit rules. Back in 2014, a King Air plane en-route from Sarawak to Singapore was intercepted by Indonesian fighter jets in airspace managed by Singapore ATC, and was forced to land at WIOO/Pontianak Airport in Indonesia.

The reason? Because they were overflying some small Indonesian islands out in the ocean, the Indonesian Air Force claimed they were overflying Indonesia’s sovereign skies – without a permit.

Indonesia still hasn’t updated its AIP, but the rules they enforce are clear: if you’re overflying any Indonesian territory, you must get an overflight permit, regardless of the flight level.

Here’s a recent nastygram to an OpsGroup member in February 2017:

Bottom line: check your airways carefully, and make sure there are no Indonesian Island underneath. If there are, get a permit.

European Ramp Checks – most popular questions from inspectors

Of late, the level of interest in OpsGroup for European Ramp Checks has been very high.  There has been a lot to think about. First, we discovered in March that French inspectors had started recording a finding for operators that were using the Manufacturer MEL instead of a customized one, and it turned out that across EASA-land inspectors were raising the same issue. There is an update on that below.

One of our members posted a great list of the most popular findings/issues raised by EASA Inspectors in the last 12 months, together with the skinny on “how to fix these, so you don’t get a finding”.

So, first let’s look at the Top 3 Categories, with the subset questions, and then an update on the D095 MMEL/MEL issue.

Popular European Ramp Check Items

Visiting and locally based aircraft may be subjected to ramp inspections as part of a States’ Safety Programme. The EU Ramp Inspection Programme (EU RIP) is one such inspection regime which currently has 48 participating states. The EU Ramp Inspectors review findings and use this intelligence as a basis for prioritising areas to inspect during a ramp check.

The most frequent findings and observations raised since January 2016 follow. This information can be used to help avoid similar findings being raised during future ramp inspections on your aircraft.

Most Frequent Findings

The main 3 categories of findings, relate to: Minimum Equipment Lists, Flight Preparation and Manuals.

1. Under the category of Minimum Equipment List, the finding is.
• MEL not fully customised.

2. Under the category of Flight Preparation, the main findings are:
• PBN Codes recorded on the flight plan which the operator did not have operational approval for
• Use of alternates which were not appropriate for the aircraft type; and
Use of alternate airports which were closed

3. Under the category of Manuals, the main finding is.
• AFM was not at the latest revision.


Simple Steps to Avoid Similar Findings

1.    Review your MEL, especially amendments made to the MEL after the initial approval, and ensure it is fully customised:
•    Where the MMEL and/or TC holders source O&M procedures require the operator to develop ‘Alternate Procedures’ or ’Required Distribution’ etc. these must be specified in the operators MEL and/or O&M procedure;


Full report in your OpsGroup Dashboard, including the standard ramp checklist PDF:

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To get the full report and checklist – there are two options:

  1. OPSGROUP Members, login to the Dashboard and find it under “Publications > Notes to Members”. All FSB content like this is included in your membership, or 
  2. Join OPSGROUP with an individual, team, or department/airline plan, and get it free on joining (along with a whole bunch of other stuff), or

OpsGroup NYC Notam Summit – April 4th, 2017


Tuesday, 4th April 2017- Manhattan, New York

 Ops Group Meetup and Notam Summit

We’ve never done this before, but we’re going to run our first OpsGroup meetup.  Emails and slacks are all fine, but human contact is where it’s at.  Come along and meet us and other awesome members of the OpsGroup!

Location: Secret downtown location in Manhattan, we’ll meet at 9am-ish on Tuesday morning, 4th April.  By 10am we’ll have kicked off into International Ops  2017 with Mark, NAT chats with Dave, Antarctica fireside stories with Jamie-Rose, and then move on to looking at stupid Notams and how to fix them.  You should come!

Here is the deal:

0900 You arrive. So will others. We will mostly be pilots, dispatchers, ATC’s and flight dept managers but whatever your specialty is, come along.

930-ish We’ll start with the International Ops Chats- NAT ops, Antarctica, 2017 changes, and your questions.

1100 We’re probably still going with the International Ops Chats

1130 We’re onto talking NOTAMS by now

1300 Powerpoint has overheated, we’re done. Off to Lunch

1330 We’ll be having a late lunch. Join us for chats and beers, war stories, jokes, or head home instead- whatever you like.

1500 That’s All Folks. We can recommend: A visit to Concorde, go see a show on Broadway like School of Rock, go see the Nicks v Bulls, visit the Comedy Cellar, or get your Uber back to the Teterboro Holiday Inn.

Afterwards, tell us what you thought:

Antarctica Fireside Chat

Jamie Rose McMillen from the FSB Int’l Desk is going to tell us some good stories from her six years living on the Ice.  Find out how International Ops works in Antarctica and McMurdo Station. Join us in NYC!

International Ops 2017

There have been a city-full of changes to the International Ops world so far in 2017.  A380 wake, no devices, BOE changes, ATC strike, Conflict Zones, 767 shooting, the end of Soviet QFE approaches. Mark will answer questions. Join us in NYC!

North Atlantic Changes

Dave Mumford will run through the new rules on the NAT, and answer questions from the My First Atlantic Flight guide. Just don’t ask him about the new contingency procedure. Join us in NYC!


Judging is finally complete in the Notam Goat Show.  After we present the winners, we will have a good old fashioned competition, with prizes, and then get into the main event: How do we fix the Notam problem?

Join us in NYC!



US 737 tests the China ADIZ

China: Go away quickly please
US Aircraft: Nope
China: Go away quickly!
US Aircraft: No!

The US is doing us all a huge favour at the moment. In fact, it’s been providing this service to the world for some time.

Every so often, a country extends its borders a little too far – outside the normal 12nm limit, for example. China has been busy. They’ve been building some things in the South China Sea. Islands, in fact. And on those islands they’ve built runways, control towers, and big radars. Naturally, they confirmed last Friday that they are for civilian use only. Hmmm.

So the US dusts off an airplane and knocks on the door. Flies around for a bit. Sees what’s going on. And reminds the country that international waters are just that. They publish a list each year of where they’ve done this. Worth a read.

In 2013 they popped up an ADIZ. And made everyone passing through it copy their Flight Plans to Beijing. In principle, ADIZ’s are a pretty good idea. The normal 12nm isn’t really much time for the military to figure out if you’re coming to bomb them. Especially on the weekend.

But you can’t tell airplanes to get out of an ADIZ. It’s an Identification Zone, not an Intercept Zone. So, normally ADIZ’s require you to squawk something and have a Flight Plan.

That much is OK. But China has been warning aircraft to get out of ‘their airspace’. And it’s not. This 737 (aka P-8 Poseidon) went for a nosey.

These operations help us all operating internationally to have less rules to worry about. Which is good.


Initially, most abided by the 2015 ADIZ rules. In 2016 that adherence quietly eroded. And China quietly didn’t care too much. It did threaten a second ADIZ in the South China Sea, but since the first one didn’t really take off, they probably won’t.

It’s part of a bigger diplomatic game. Interesting to watch, though.

Unsafe Airspace update – French Guiana, Egypt

Flight Service Bureau has issued the 2nd Unsafe Airspace Summary for 2017, effective March 26th. Through, FSB and members of OpsGroup work together to share information on risks and threats affecting Airspace and Airports around the world, and make this information available to all aircraft operators. Read about our mission here.

In this edition, the changes since January 2017 are:

  • New advisory (Level 3) for French Guiana (protests, airports closed). 26MAR17 Widespread protests, increasing in size. Avoid travel. SOCA/Cayenne has no fuel available, and per US Diplo reports 24MAR is closed. SOOG/St. Georges, SOOC/Camopi, and SOOR/Regina are closed. Monitor for updates.
  • New summary for Egypt (SA-7 missile found), fresh GPS jamming warnings.
  • Updated warnings for Mali, Kenya, Pakistan, South Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Philippines.

Further Reading:

  • You can download the new PDF summary directly (600kb).
  • View the map at
  • Join OPSGROUP for direct updates.






Inside the cabin – before and after the wake turbulence encounter

The Challenger 604 vs Airbus 380 story has gone once around the world.

But is it even true? Some have asked. Let’s do a reality check.

After our initial story was published in last weeks International Operations Bulletin, which we first monitored thanks to the great work of the Aviation Herald, it was republished in various versions in The Times of London, Flying magazine, AIN Business Aviation News,  Deutsche Welle, and NBC. The picture on the Flight Service Bureau facebook page was viewed 1.1 million times.

First, the picture.

The incident happened. This has already been confirmed by the German BFU, who have responsibility for investigating accidents. The Canadian TSB have assigned an accredited representative to the investigation, and Bombardier have assigned a technical advisor.

So to the cause. The crew reported that 1-2 minutes before the loss of control, at about 0840 UTC, an Airbus A380-800 had passed overhead, slightly to the left. The Aviation Herald’s reporting is of the highest standard, and we trust their source.

Like the Aviation Herald, we also deal in facts. Joining the dots to form the bigger picture doesn’t require Colombo on the job.

  • The incident happened on January 7th, since which time the German BFU have been aware of the case.
  • The story has been out in the aviation community since February 7th, when it was posted that: “A CL604 enroute Male to Europe, upset by opposite direction, 1,000′ above, A380’s wake. Several rolls, large G excursions. Diverted into Muscat.”


Since the authority, manufacturer, and operator are all aware of the story, it is reasonable to deduce that were a material part of the widely reported incident not true, then that would have been stated rather quickly.

The ultimate confirmation will come from the Germany BFU, hopefully on this Interim Reports page.


The Boeing 757 parallel

On Sunday, we reported the similarity between this A380 story, and the 10 years it took to determine that the Boeing 757 had a wake 1.5 times stronger than other similar aircraft.

Our primary interest here at Flight Service Bureau is keeping the International Flight Operations community safe and informed. Consider this opening line from the New York Times on Dec 23rd, 1993:

Nearly a year after being alerted to the problem, the Federal Aviation Administration has ordered air-traffic controllers to warn aircraft flying behind Boeing 757 jets of the potential for dangerous wake turbulence.

In the last year, two crashes that together killed 13 people have been attributed to turbulence caused by Boeing 757's. In the more recent crash, on Dec. 15, five people were killed when their private jet went down in Orange County during a landing approach" 

Wake Turbulence Enroute

The entire topic of wake turbulence is not fully understood by any of us. There is much more to learn. Truly innovative studies were last done back in the 1970’s. Some experienced crews have even questioned whether enroute wake turbulence even exists.  Flight school drills into us as pilots, that wake lives around the airport. “Heavy, clean and slow” are the dangerous ones. But “slow” means about about 150 knots for aircraft like the 380. In the cruise, that goes up to about 250 knots IAS at the higher altitudes. If 150 knots is slow, then 250 knots isn’t really “fast”.

Before the crash of a Delta Tristar at DFW in 1985, we didn’t know much about windshear and microbursts.  Maybe we have to learn the same lesson with enroute wake.

In Flying magazine, Les Abend has a very readable example of enroute wake in this article.


And here are some other examples of enroute wake turbulence encounters:

  • Air Canada, FL370, 55 degree roll at FL370 – wake from Boeing 747
  • Virgin Australia, FL350, 45 degree bank – wake from A380
  • American Airlines, FL220, bang – wake from B777
  • Air France, FL360, 25 degree bank – wake from A380
  • United Airlines, FL240, severe turbulence – wake from MD11
  • British Airways, FL320, 30 degree roll – wake from A380
  • Antonov 124, FL320, 15 degree roll, altitude loss – wake from A380
  • Vueling, FL320, sudden 40 degree right bank – wake from A340
  • Japan Airlines, E170 – uncommanded increasing roll to left – wake from A340
  • Armavia, A320 – A/P disconnect, steep banks – wake from A380

Note to Members #24 – Wake Turbulence Enroute

While the industry awaits further guidance from the authorities, Flight Service Bureau has made public its Note to Members #24 (normally restricted to OpsGroup circulation). Revised 22MAR2017.

Key points from our Note:

  • We might be wrong! Like we said above, there is much still to learn about enroute wake. Read the note, but make up your own mind.
  • Consider the wind. The danger point is roughly 15-20nm after the crossing point, as this is when the wake will have drifted down 1000 feet. In stronger winds, the wake may have drifted well away from the centreline. A turn away may not be necessary.
  • SLOP where possible. It may not prevent all situations, especially crossing traffic, but if you’re 2nm right of track you’re a lot less likely to be directly underneath another aircraft.
  • Read the note for the full guidance, and tell us if you have any further thoughts.



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