Crimea & Simferopol FIR
Following the recent events in Ukraine and Crimea, we received a high volume of requests for information on the airspace and current situation. The information below is a majority extract from our International Ops Notice 03/14 published on 05APR.
Effective April 2014 a significant number of changes will affect Airports and Airspace in the Crimean Peninsula.
BACKGROUND – What happened?
Following the removal of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on 21 February, Russia moved to take control of Crimea, an autonomous republic that until now has been part of Ukraine. While the referendum that ceded authority is disputed internationally, Crimea is now under de facto control of Russia, creating a political standoff with Europe and the US that has led to a complicated airspace situation.
AIRSPACE AND AIRPORTS INVOLVED
- Simferopol FIR A large and significant FIR covering busy Black Sea routes, with a predominant east/west flow, with ATC service provided from Simferopol Airport.
- Simferopol Airport A large airport in the centre of Crimea with International and Domestic Air Service, with TWR/APP
- Sevastopol Airport A smaller civil, domestic airport beside the town of Sevastopol in the southwest of Crimea, with TWR.
- Zavodskoe Airport Another smaller domestic airport beside Simferopol, with an AFIS Unit.
- Kerch Airport Used only by general aviation, currently bankrupt.
Some History – MARCH DEVELOPMENTS
- 13 March Russian troops took control of the Towers, Airports, and ATC Centre. Simferopol and Sevastopol closed to civil traffic. ATC Service from Simferopol was terminated.
- 14 March ATC Service for the Simferopol FIR is now provided by other ATC Centres in Ukraine. Odesa took control of the western portion (Sectors 3,4,5) and Dnipropetrovsk the eastern portion (Sectors 1,2)
- 16 March Referendum held in Crimea, result determines wish to join Russia.
Current Status – CHANGES SINCE RUSSIAN CONTROL OF CRIMEA
- 24 March Rouble adopted as official currency of Crimea
- 24 March Russian Passports issued to existing population. Russian Visa required to enter for non-Ukrainians/Crimeans
- 31 March Clocks move forward 2 hours, Crimea is now on Moscow time
- 03 April Simferopol ACC re-opens, providing ATC Service in the Simferopol FIR
- 03 April Permit now required to enter Airspace over Crimea, according to NOTAM from Russia
The Simferopol FIR is normally controlled from an Area Control Centre located at Simferopol Airport. It was closed on 13 March (picture taken same day) when Russia took control of facilities in the peninsula, and service for the FIR was provided using remote radar data by Ukrainian controllers from Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk.
At 10am on 3 April Simferopol ACC was reopened, managed by a new service provider called “Krymaeronavigatsiya”. The controllers in the centre are mostly the same controllers that operated Simferopol ACC for the Ukrainian National Authority.
To reactivate control of the airspace from Simferopol, Russia issued several NOTAMs on 28 March which were subsequently disputed by Ukraine and Eurocontrol. This has led to an unsafe situation leading to an ICAO letter and recommendation to avoid the Simferopol FIR until the situation is resolved.