International Ops 2018

Flight Service Bureau | OPSGROUP

Tag: overflight

Dubai to London – which way is best?

In Short: Two main options, via Saudi and Egypt (safer, cheaper but longer) or via Iran and Turkey (shorter, busier and geo-politically more unstable). It’s a complicated planning climate at present. Review regularly based on latest risk factors.   

There are more business aviation operators flying between the Middle East and Europe than ever before. So we took the time to look over the route options between the two regions. For our example we will be using a flight from Dubai to London, but similar operational considerations are valid for the plethora of route combinations through this whole region.

Firstly, we are sure you are a frequent visitor to our safe airspace website. Updated all the time with the latest notes and risk recommendations based on the latest intel. So, first things first, we want to avoid Syria, Libya and the Sinai Peninsula. As you can see however, this is a complicated geo-political region for flight planning. The direct great circle route would take us through Syria and would be around 3125nm. But that isn’t going to work. So, what else we got?

We will look at the two ways to head over the region. One is via Iran, Turkey and onwards to Europe. The other over Saudi Arabia and Egypt towards Europe.

Option 1: Iran/Turkey

Safety: Both Iran and Turkey are FSB Risk Level: Three – Caution. Iran is involved in the ongoing conflict with Syria and several Russian missiles crossed the Tehran FIR and several busy international routes. There are also increased tensions between the USA and Iran at present – if you had to divert in an N-reg aircraft, Iran would not be the friendliest of places to do so. Turkey borders with Syria and we have received multiple reports of GPS interference in the area.

Distance: an extra 100nm.

Time: About 15 minutes longer than great circle route.

Ease and Cost: Iran has higher overflight costs and for US based operators a reminder of the sanctions for dealing directly with Iran, or agencies in Iran. You’ll want to use an approved agent if you’re from the US (i.e.–not an Iranian company). Iran doesn’t work on Fridays, so be aware there. Turkish overflight costs are reasonable and remember that Turkish authorities require the use of an agent to apply for permits.

Traffic: The biggest issue with this route is that everyone is using it! It’s congested with a lot of airline traffic. It’s a major corridor for Asia-Europe flights also. So, getting the levels you want, and off route deviations are more complicated. Things get busy, as you can see!

Option 2: Saudi/Egypt

Safety: In terms of airspace warnings and risk, this route is slightly better. We have rated Saudi and Egypt airspace as FSB Risk Level: Two – Assessed Risk. Beyond the Sinai Peninsula and the Saudi/Yemen border, generally there is less of a chance of airspace security risks at present.

Distance: An extra 300nm from the great circle.

Time: Around 45 minutes longer.

Ease and Cost: Saudi and Egyptian airspace are generally a cheaper option ($1,000USD+). In Egypt, by law you have to get your permit through an Egyptian agent, but it’s a straight forward process. In Saudi, again, using an agent is best; they normally have three-day lead time – so keep that in mind. Also remember that the CAA only work Sun-Wed during office hours.

Traffic: For most of the day, much less of a traffic bottle neck.


Bottom line

Of the two options, routing via Saudi/Egypt is cheaper, and safer (as long as you steer clear of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsular and Saudi’s border with Yemen), but it’s going to take slightly longer.

What about Iraq?

We don’t think it’s a good idea. There’s a lot of information out there saying certain airways are ok but only at higher levels. But if you needed to get down fast, or even make an unexpected landing, Iraq isn’t the place you would want to go at present. Treat with caution.

Which one is your favourite choice? Let us know!

Further reading:

Russia is not closing its airspace to American flights

On April 17, the Russian Ministry of Transport extended overflight approvals for US airlines through to October 28, 2018 – just hours before the old agreement on overflights was due to expire.

This should bring an end to the rumour that had been circulating all week that Russia has closed its airspace to US aircraft, and were denying overflights. There are a couple of unrelated events which caused this confusion:

1. US strikes on Syria on April 14, with rhetoric of Russia retaliation – which in the end didn’t happen.

2. Spooked about how Russia might respond directly after the strikes, American Airlines temporarily decided not to overfly Russia on some of their flights from the US to Hong Kong… but then they quickly went back to doing so again on April 15.

3. With the deadline looming for extending the agreement, Russian civil aviation officials had reportedly cancelled a meeting in Washington earlier this week to discuss renewing the agreement.

4. Some areas of the Baltic Sea are closed on April 19 for Russian missile firing, which is a routine event.

 

References – all the relevant stories are here:

 

Countries with bans on flights to Israel

Which countries have banned both direct flights and overflying traffic to/from Israel?

It’s a question we get asked a lot. Here’s the answer:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE, Yemen.

These countries do not officially recognise Israel, and prohibit flights going to/from Israel from using their airspace.

The two exceptions we’ve spotted are:
1. In March 2018, Saudi Arabia started giving Air India permission to use its airspace on flights between VIDP/Delhi and LLBG/Tel Aviv, thus marking the end of the 70-year airspace ban that Saudi Arabia had in place against flights to/from Israel.
2. Sudan, who regularly allow Ethiopian Airlines to use their airspace for their Addis Ababa to Tel Aviv flights:

But for everyone else wanting to do private or non-scheduled flights to/from Israel, Sudan airspace is off-limits.

For anyone wanting to get from Israel to Asia, there is a narrow corridor available down the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and across the Indian Ocean. This takes advantage of the fact that most countries operate with a 12NM rule – that is, if you’re in their FIR, and you’re 12NM away from the landmass, you don’t need a permit.

Israel’s national carrier El Al operates a couple of scheduled flights on this basis – one to Mumbai, and another to Bangkok:

There is no airway down the Red Sea between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, so you have to fly a direct route between the FIRs. As reported by an Opsgroup member, here’s how it works:

FL290 for southbound traffic, and FL300 for northbound. ATC at both Cairo and Saudi FIRs are used to that. When departing from Israel and going southbound, after losing radar contact with Cairo, you are on your own. Report on Africa VHF freq that you are "over International waters southbound / northbound etc." Listen to Saudi control and try to call them - but do not expect an answer. You will need to maintain your own separation visually, although the Saudis will see you on their radar and they are used to jets flying there. Keep your landing lights on 'pulse' for any opposite traffic. Contact Asmara (Eritrea) control 10NM before entering their FIR. Use SAT phone if no one answers on VHF.

On the reverse side, Israel only allow overflights of their airspace to Royal Jordanian Airlines, and only when departing from or flying to the following airports: CYUL/Montreal, EHBK/Maastricht, KDTW/Detroit, KORD/Chicago, LTAC/Ankara.

Although it’s technically possible for other operators to apply for an overflight permit, it can take up to 30 days, and it’s highly unlikely you’ll get approved unless you’re operating some kind of diplomatic or state flight.

More information:

  • For direct flights to Israel, you can only operate from certain authorised airports. See the list of airports here.

  • If you want to know exactly how to get your landing or overflight permits, check out our Permit Book – this tells you how to get a permit for each and every country in the world!

  • Does anything in this article look wrong to you? Let us know, so we can fix it!

Ops to Taiwan? You’ll have to avoid China

We’ve had lots of questions on this subject lately. So here’s what you need to know:

  • Foreign-registered aircraft are prohibited from operating direct between China and Taiwan.
  • You’ve got to make a tech stop somewhere between the two countries – most choose to do so in either VHHH/Hong Kong or VMMC/Macau.
  • Importantly, the same rules apply for China overflights – if you’re flying to Taiwan from any third country, you can’t overfly China. 
  • Only Chinese and Taiwanese registered aircraft are able to operate direct between China and Taiwan.

The Chinese authorities are reluctant to provide any kind of official document stating any of this – we haven’t been able to find any precise wording anywhere in their AIP which states these restrictions.

To test the theory, we applied to the Chinese authorities for a landing permit for a direct flight from Taiwan to China. After we applied, we received an immediate call from CAAC emphasising that they will not deal with such applications for foreign registered aircraft. They advised they will not process this application and verbally rejected it.

The Chinese authorities circulate an official document to Chinese handling agents about this issue, which sets out the rules quite clearly. For some reason, they don’t like these to be distributed outside of China… so naturally, we got our hands on a translated copy!

So here’s a handy chart showing exactly what you can / can’t do:

There’s one more scenario that is apparently also not allowed:

You can’t overfly both China and Taiwan and then land in a third country. For example, you’re departing from RPLL/Manilla in the Philippines, then overflying Taiwan (RCAA FIR), then overflying China (ZSHA FIR), and then landing in a third country like RKSI/Seoul in South Korea – according to the Chinese authorities, this is not allowed, and they won’t issue an overflight permit!

More information:

  • If you are planning any flights to China anytime soon, make sure you know about the hidden costs of operating there here.
  • If you want to know exactly how to get your landing or overflight permits, check out our Permit Book – this tells you how to get a permit for each and every country in the world!

ORER and ORSU: Closed to International Ops

The Iraqi CAA will ban all international flights to/from ORER/Erbil and ORSU/Sulaimaniyah starting from Friday 29th Sep. 

From then on, those airports will only be open for Iraqi carriers and domestic ops.

Tensions around the Kurdish autonomous region of Iraq are rising following a referendum on independence.

The Iraqi govt has demanded that the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) hand over control of its two international airports – ORER and ORSU. Until the KRG comply with this request, the international ban on flights to these airports is set to continue.

At the request of the Iraqi govt, Iran had already closed it’s airspace to ORER/ORSU traffic earlier this week, and Turkey was considering implementing the same ban.

The KRG are now deciding whether to give up control of their airports or lose their international flights. Should it be the latter, then from now on anyone attempting to travel to the region will have to transit via Baghdad.

We will update as more information becomes available.

 

 

 

 

 


					
		

New airspace warnings – Turkey, Iran

Today Flight Service Bureau has published ION05/16 – an updated Unsafe Airspace Summary, with new warnings for Turkey, and Iran, and a new map at safeairspace.net. This replaces 04/16 issued in August.

Turkey: 23SEP16 Germany B1289/16 Do not plan flights to LTAJ due potential ground to ground firing in the vicinity of LTAJ/Gaziantep Airport.

Iran: 09SEP16 FAA Notam KICZ 19/16 Exercise caution within Tehran FIR due military activity.

New information in the PDF is marked with a   I   beside it. Please distribute the PDF to anyone you like, we are keen to make sure as many operators as possible are aware of the risks.

 

opg-safeairspace

Permit News: Cuba Permit requirements

– Minimum 3 working days advance notice of flight intending to cross Cuba

Data needed:

– Operator name and address
– Departure and Destination airports, and times
– Aircraft type, and registration
– Please note no requirement for airspace entry points/times, pilots licenses/medicals, C of A/R, or other documentation.

Your permit number will be sent to you by via email by return and should be inserted in Field 18 (RMK/) of your ATC flight plan, for example:

RMK/PERMIT CUBA 6821

The permit can be ordered online here.

International Ops Bulletin
Get our weekly Ops Bulletin on changes and dangers: Airport closures, Security issues, ATC restrictions, Airspace changes, and New Charts
Sent to you every Wednesday
Thanks, I'm already a reader.