International Ops 2018

Flight Service Bureau | OPSGROUP

Tag: Eurocontrol

European air traffic warned over Syria strikes

EASA are warning of possible air strikes into Syria being launched from locations within the LCCC/Nicosia FIR over the next 72 hours (Apr 11-14).

Eurocontrol have published a ‘Rapid Alert Notification’ on their website, with a statement from EASA that reads:

“Due to the possible launch of air strikes into Syria with air-to-ground and / or cruise missiles within the next 72 hours, and the possibility of intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment, due consideration needs to be taken when planning flight operations in the Eastern Mediterranean / Nicosia FIR area.”

Very few commercial flights operate over Syria, and authorities in the US, UK, France and Germany have all previously issued warnings for Syrian airspace.

But many airlines regularly transit the LCCC/Nicosia FIR: there are frequent holiday flights to the main Cypriot airports of LCLK/Larnaca and LCPH/Paphos; overflight traffic from Europe to the likes of OLBA/Beirut, OJAI/Amman and LLBG/Tel Aviv; as well as traffic from Istanbul heading south to the Gulf and beyond.

Last year, two US warships in the eastern Mediterranean fired missiles at an air base in Syria after a chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime killed more than 80 people.

This week, following another suspected chemical attack by the Syrian government against civilians in a rebel-held town in Syria, the US President Donald Trump warned there would be a “forceful” response. On Apr 11, he took to Twitter to warn Russia to prepare for strike on Syria:

For the airstrikes on Syria last year, the US gave Russia advance warning of the attack, and Russian forces opted not to attempt to shoot down the missiles using its air defence systems stationed in the region.

However, this time round things could be very different. This week, Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon reminded the US that the head of the Russian military has said his forces in Syria would not only shoot down any missiles that threatened them but would target the source of the weapons as well.

The only US warship currently in the Mediterranean and capable of a possible strike is the USS Donald Cook, which left port in Larnaca and started to patrol in vicinity of Syria on Apr 9. According to some reports, it has since weighed anchor off Syrian territorial waters, and has been “buzzed” by low-flying Russian military jets.

Another 3 warships of the Sixth Fleet are already in the Atlantic Ocean, and on Apr 11 the entire US Truman Fleet (including an aircraft carrier, 6 destroyers, and nearly 6,500 sailors) departed Norfolk, Virginia, to head to the Mediterranean Sea. However, it may take up to a week for any of these warships to arrive.

Here’s an overview of US and coalition forces’ military options currently thought to be on offer in the eastern Mediterranean:

With the downing of MH17 by a surface-to-air missile over Ukraine in 2014, as well as all the recent unannounced missile tests by North Korea, there has been increased focus by the aviation community on the risks posed by conflict zones. If any missiles are launched from the Eastern Mediterranean in the next few days, be prepared for possible last-minute reroutes, as any Notams that get published may not give much warning.

Further reading:

One of our biggest missions in OPSGROUP is to share risk information and keep operators aware of the current threat picture. Check out Safeairspace for the most up-to-date information on airspace safety around the world.

More direct routings across Europe

Sectors of airspace over southern Germany are ahead of schedule with plans to bring in Free Route Airspace (FRA). With effect from 1st March 2018, FRA will be implemented in the EDUU/Karlsruhe UAC, EDWW/Bremen ACC , and EDMM/Munchen ACC above FL245.

By the end of 2019, most European airspace is expected to have implemented Free Route Airspace, with all airspace having this type of operations by 2021/2022.

We like the idea of Free Route Airspace – direct routing is the way of the future. We also like cool maps. Thankfully, good old Eurocontrol have provided us with some great ones, showing where Free Route Airspace currently exists, and where it will be implemented in the future:

For everything you could possibly want to know about FRA in Europe, check out Eurocontrol’s page on it here:

Europe now requires 8.33 VHF radios (almost) everywhere

Effective January 1st, 2018, the official line is that you need an 8.33 VHF Radio to operate anywhere in Europe. If you’re heading to Europe without one, expect problems.

Until now, it’s really only been a requirement above FL195 – 8.33 has been around at the higher levels since 2007. However, Europe is keen to get everyone on the same page and make sure new frequencies can be used by all aircraft at the lower levels also.

However, not everywhere is actually requiring 8.33 just yet.  Eurocontrol have built a handy tool that shows each the requirements for each airspace sector. Click on the image below to check it out.

Can I get an exemption? If you’re operating a ferry, delivery, or some other flight where you don’t have 8.33, then you should be able to get an exemption to operate without 8.33 – but it will vary state to state. Write to the Ministry of Transport for the particular state.

Eurocontrol have published all the details on this as follows:

Above FL195, in the IFPZ, not equipped aircraft may be exempted from the carriage of the 8.33 kHz radios (refer to the national AIP of the state concerned to see if the flight is eligible) in which case the letter Y shall not be inserted in Item 10a (Equipment), but the letter Z shall be inserted in Item 10a as well as COM/EXM833 in the Item 18 (Other Information) of the filed flight plan.

Below FL195, in the airspace of the EU member states (plus Switzerland and Norway) some airspaces may be exempted from the carriage of the 8.33 kHz radios (refer to the national AIP of the state concerned) in which case the airspace is not inserted in the area where the mandatory carriage check takes place. Such exemption will permit a non-equipped aircraft to fly but only if the flight trajectory remains exclusively in airspaces where 8.33 kHz is not mandatory.

Below FL195, in the airspaces of the EU member states (plus Switzerland and Norway), state aircraft non-UHF and non-833 are exempted. The letters Y and U shall not be inserted in Item 10 (Equipment), but STS/STATE shall be inserted in the Item 18 (Other Information) of the filed flight plan.

In the IFPZ, State aircraft that are not equipped with 8.33 kHz capable radios but are equipped with UHF shall be permitted to fly in 8.33 kHz airspace where UHF coverage is provided or special procedures are implemented (see the national AIP of the State concerned). To indicate such, the letters U and Z shall be inserted in Item 10a (Equipment) and ‘COM/EXM833’ shall be inserted in Item 18 (Other Information) of the filed flight plan.


Confused? Here’s a quick crib-sheet of what to do:

When you file a flight plan in Europe, it goes through the automated IFPS system, which is now quite clever at checking for 8.33 kHz radio compliance.

The IFPS system will crosscheck between the concerned airspaces crossed by the flight plan and the radio communication equipment indicated in Item 10: (Equipment) and Item 18 (Other information) provided in the submitted message.

Here’s what will happen, depending on what you put in your flight plan:

  • If Item 10 (Equipment) of the submitted message contains Y, then that flight is considered to be compliant.
  • If Item 10 (Equipment), of the submitted message does not contain Y, but contains Z and U and the exemption indicator COM/EXM833 is present in Item 18 (Other Information), and the flight is a STATE flight, then that flight shall be considered compliant.
  • If Item 10 (Equipment) of the submitted message does not contain Y but contains the exemption indicator COM/EXM833 and the flight is not penetrating the 833_UHF_VHF region and is entirely within the 833_EUR_IFPS, then that flight shall be considered compliant.
  • If Item 10 (Equipment) of the submitted message does not contain Y, neither U and Item 18 (Other Information) contains STS/STATE and the flight is exclusively in the airspace of the EU member states (plus Switzerland and Norway) below FL195 then that flight shall be considered compliant.

In all the other cases, the flight shall be considered not compliant and shall fail automatic processing!

Brexit for Aviation: Meaningless

If the media were to be believed, the impending doom of Brexit – Britain’s Exit from the European Union – will change the aviation landscape in the EU for ever. So, today you’ll be busy trying to figure you how this affects your operation. But what if it won’t?

Well, it won’t. Not even a little bit.

The trouble is, that’s not an angle that’s going to sell newspapers or ads on TV; so the Tier 1 media like the BBC and the Telegraph have to run stories that focus on how much this is going to affect everyone. If it wasn’t really going to affect a lot of people, then that’s not a story, is it?

And so, the aviation media – in suit – have to find the story for aviation – because, being such a headline story, it must be going to impact aviation across the board, right?

No. And here’s why.

1. The UK is not part of the Schengen  Area  – the common EU travel area. Brexit does not change that. Immigration procedures will not change.
2. The UK does not use the Euro as its currency, so Brexit has no effect. The value of the UK pound is, in the long term, likely to remain stable against the Euro, once the hype is over.
3. The UK is part of the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA) – and will remain so, even if some aspects are renegotiated. So traffic rights, open skies, and all the other benefits to both the UK and other ECAA members will stay the same.
4. The UK is part of Eurocontrol and will remain so. There won’t be any changes to Flight Planning procedures.
5. And for the rest, Shanwick will continue to control the east side of the North Atlantic.  Overflight Permits will still only be required for special case aircraft. Slots will be needed for busy airports. Heathrow will remain congested. Navigation charges will remain expensive.

As an aside, because the value of the UK pound is about the only thing that has a real impact for operators – what we’re currently seeing in the share and currency markets, we believe, is the result of the media hype. IATA estimated “the number of UK air passengers could be 3-5% lower by 2020, driven by the expected downturn in economic activity and the fall in the sterling exchange rate”. It could also be 3-5% higher. It’s all speculation.

For any International Operator expecting operational change because of Brexit – don’t. We firmly believe there won’t be any.

Israel moves closer to Eurocontrol

Israel has signed an agreement with Eurocontrol to work more closely together in flight planning.

Air traffic between Israel and Europe has been growing at over 9% a year for the past three years. This growth poses ongoing challenges to international civil aviation and underlines the need to improve ties between regions in order to ensure flight efficiency and safety in airspace and airports that are growing more crowded every year.

Israel is now the second country to sign the “Eurocontrol Comprehensive Agreement”.

What does this mean for operators?

The existing process is complex and multi-step: flights that transit Europe from Israel require filing at least 3 hours in advance to the Tel Aviv Coordination Centre, who then liaise with Eurocontrol to verify that the routing is RAD compliant. Changes are often then made by Eurocontrol and back down the line to the operator.

The implementation date is to be confirmed, but FPL filing out of Israel will now be the same as for any other European country, with immediate ACK from Eurocontrol.

Other benefits of this agreement are improved crisis management, more efficient traffic flows between Israel and Europe, more predictable day to day operations, improved safety and possibly airspace redesign and management.

Fake Navigation fees – a growing problem

It’s a concern: instead of sending your Nav Fees payment to Eurocontrol, you’ve actually sent it to a suburb of Lagos. And you’re not going to get it back.

We’ve seen an increasing variety of bogus emails, that at first glance look like they are from Eurocontrol – but aren’t. Here’s a good example from this week:


You’d be forgiven for glancing over it and responding to request the details of ‘their’ new bank account. And that’s where the problem begins – you’ll get a new bank account, only it won’t direct your money to Brussels.

IATA has the same issue:


Fortunately, most of these emails are poorly written, and easy enough to identify as bogus – but that’s only if you are on your guard. The best solution is to simply be aware of the risk:


  1. Look at the sender address: real emails come from Fake ones look similar, but might be something like
  2. Most of the emails ask for a copy of an invoice or payment – be suspicious when you read that.
  3. Be especially alert when the email mentions a change in bank account. Eurocontrol has no plans to change bank accounts any time soon.
  4. Best advice: write to the real address: and ask for confirmation of any message, or call the Route Charges office on +32 2729 3838.
  5. The most secure way to handle Eurocontrol charges and payments is through their CEFA portal.



  1. Most recent fake addresses:,
  2. Contact the real address:


Eurocontrol – Cargo Flights alerts

In 2012, the EU put in place the EU ACC3 program – air carriers that fly cargo or mail from a non-EU airport to an EU airport must ensure that all cargo and mail carried to the EU is physically screened or comes from a secure supply chain which is validated.

Air carrier stations in third countries are required to have undergone an audit to obtain an EU Aviation Security Validation in order to acquire or maintain their ACC3 designation. This validation needs to be reissued every five years, according to the EU Regulations.

On 01FEB16, Eurocontrol set up a NM ACC3 alerting system –  checking Flight Plans, and sending a message to the European Commission and the relevant EU Member State/s when a flight is identified as not having the correct ACC3 accreditation.



Midweek Briefing: Chinese Airport Delays, Eurocontrol NOP Changes

Chinese Airport Delays 03FEB ZXXX/China This is the busiest travel week of the year in China, with millions travelling for the Chinese New Year on 08FEB. Winter storms are forecast to impose delays across central Chinese airports; those currently affected include ZWWW/Urumqi Diwopu, ZSNJ/Nanjing Lukou, ZGGG/Guangzhou, and ZHHH/Wuhan Tianhe.

Eurocontrol NOP Changes 03FEB There are some significant changes to the daily Eurocontrol Briefings effective this week. Network News is no longer, and the D-1 daily conference is also gone. Instead, an Initial Network Plan is published each day at 1700Z on the Network Operations Portal.


TTxx/Trinidad and Tobago The annual Carnival in Port of Spain will take place on 08-09FEB . Travel and tourism activities are expected to continue for up to two weeks after the celebration and will be busiest during weekends. 10FEB (Ash Wednesday) is expected to be the busiest day of the year at the Port of Spain airport.

EISN/Shannon FIR Correction ** Due to a number of flights deviating from clearances prior to exiting Shanwick OCA, flight crews are reminded that Eastbound route clearances issued by Shannon Control for aircraft exiting Oceanic Airspace apply from AGORI, SUNOT, BILTO, PIKIL, ETARI, RESNO, VENER, DOGAL, NEBIN, MALOT, TOBOR, LIMRI, ADARA, DINIM, RODEL, SOMAX, KOGAD, BEDRA, OMOKO, TAMEL AND LASNO. Flights shall not turn before these points. In other words: wait until you enter (** Thank you to Shannon ATC for pointing out the error in last weeks bulletin).

North Atlantic Effective 04FEB MNPS Airspace is replaced by HLA/High Level Airspace on the North Atlantic – extended with Bodø joining Shanwick, Gander, Reykjavik, New York, and Santa Maria. RNP4 or RNP10 now required. Read our International Ops Notice 01/2016 or our blog post: Did you know MNPS is over?

Eurocontrol NOP Changes There are some significant changes to the daily Eurocontrol Briefings effective 01FEB. Network News is no longer, and the D-1 daily conference is also gone. Instead, an Initial Network Plan is published each day at 1700Z on the Network Operations Portal.

FMMM/Madagascar CAA have issued a reminder to inbound operators that a Passenger List must be sent 24 hrs prior to departure for Madagascar, by email to

MKJK/Kingston FIR Jamaica, has ongoing issues with radar coverage and serviceability, leading to ad-hoc flow management procedures including 15 minute en-route separation, and 10 minute arrival separation at international airports. Delays appear likely. Reports welcome to

FHAW/Ascension Island is now operating at Rescue and Firefighting Category 8/RFF8.

United Kingdom Last week the UK Registered Traveller Service, which is the equivalent of the US Global Entry program, was expanded to include a few more countries: Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. Additionally, Bristol and Cardiff will be added to the list of participating airports.

MUXX/Cuba Flight crews of US based aircraft can now remain in Cuba with their aircraft when traveling to the island nation, instead of having to reposition immediately after offloading passengers. The change took effect on 27JAN, with new amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations and Export Administration Regulations issued by the U.S. OFAC and BIS.

NCRG/Rarotonga, Cook Islands has new hours of ATC service: 2050 SUN-0400 MON, 1500 MON-1930 MON, 0530 WED-1400 WED, 2100 THU-1000 FRI, 2100 FRI-1000 SAT, 1400 SAT-1930 SAT, 0600 SUN-1130 SUN. These are UTC/Z Times, local is UTC-10. Raro is an important diversion airport in the South Pacific, especially for Easter Island and Tahiti. ATC is avail with 30 mins PN outside these hours (call +682 25890/71439).

EHAM/Amsterdam has raised the minimum vectoring altitude from 1200ft to 1600ft, which seems to spell an end to those super efficient 3 mile final approaches to 06. Still the best Terminal ATC in Europe.

Europe EASA has launched a 2 person cockpit survey to open discussion on the impact of their new recommended practice of always having 2 crew members in the cockpit.

PKMJ/Majuro, Marshall Islands – ExxonMobil will have no fuel during tanker replenishment, scheduled for 13-17FEB.

ZXXX/China This is the busiest travel week of the year in China, with millions travelling for the Chinese New Year on 08FEB. Winter storms are forecast to impose delays across central Chinese airports; those currently affected include ZWWW/Urumqi Diwopu Int’l, ZSNJ/Nanjing Lukou Int’l, ZGGG/Guangzhou, and ZHHH/Wuhan Tianhe.

ENGM/Oslo Oslo Airport has started supplying Air BP Biojet via its regular fuel hydrant system, naming three large European airlines as launch customers. It is now is supplied from the main fuel farm, via common storage and distribution facilities, without the need for segregated infrastructure. Previously, it had to be provided by fuel truck.

DNKK/Kano ACC Nigeria, Area Radar Service is provided H24 from 04FEB.

View the full International Bulletin 03FEB2016

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