About Safe Airspace
The Conflict Zone & Risk Database provides a single, independent, and eternally free resource for all airspace risk warnings, so that airlines and aircraft operators can easily see the current risk picture for unfamiliar airspace.
On July 17th, 2014, MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine. It became clear that a handful of operators had known of the risk, while most had not. Why? Because the information about this risk was not easily accessible. In response, ICAO launched the Conflict Zone Information Repository (CZIR) in April 2015.
It was short lived. Political and economic interests of individual states came first, and forced the withdrawal of risk information deemed to contradict those interests. This article will show you how this happened.
Conflict Zone and Risk Database
Safe Airspace is an initiative from OPSGROUP, an independent organisation with 5000 members, made up of airlines, corporate flight departments, private operators, charter operators, military, and government.
The Conflict Zone & Risk Database was launched in September 2016 as the lifespan of the ICAO CZIR was coming to a close, keeping the work ICAO did on the project alive, and providing the autonomous platform needed to make the concept work.
Objective – one single source
A single source for all risk warnings issued about an individual country, independent of any political or commercial motivation, so that a pilot, flight dispatcher, security department, or anyone responsible for flight safety can quickly and easily see the current risk picture.
Oversight and independence
The CZ&RD is managed by OPSGROUP. Because we are outside the chain of government, we are responsible only to our member airlines and aircraft operators, and more importantly, to the people ensuring a safe flight operation, and to the passengers that fly on our aircraft. For this reason, all information pertinent to a country can be assured to be carried here.
To remain completely independent of any bias, and to ensure that everybody has access, the Conflict Zone & Risk Database is completely free of charge. We have no commercial interest in publishing this information, it exists as a public service because our members care deeply about flight safety.
Primary sources for each country in the database:
- Warnings issued by the country concerned. Operators should note that in general, the Civil Aviation Authorities of the countries whose airspace is determined to be unsafe are (very) unlikely to issue reliable guidance.
- Warnings issues by other states about that country.
- There are 4 main countries that provide important risk information: Germany, France, the UK, and the United States – and these have become the de-facto initiators of airspace warnings. These are issued for their own carriers and are not binding on operators from other states, but they are useful to determine risk levels.
- Other countries who issue risk information, carried here: South Africa, Malta, Ireland
- Verified reports from OPSGROUP members.
- Essential Risk information from other sources.
- Verified reports to firstname.lastname@example.org
For each country, we prepare a plain English synopsis of the current risk situation. It is intended to give you some background on why warnings may exist for a country – whether because of conflict or unsafe practices. Often individual Notams are published by other states, but do not help the operator to understand the real nature of the risk.
The first and most important thing that the CZ&RD provides is information. It’s a heads up, so that you know about warnings issued about individual countries.
We group countries into one of three risk categories, with Level 1 being the highest.
Level 1 – Do Not Fly
Criteria – any of these will trigger Level 1:
- A prohibition warning is issued by another state, with either a total ban for their carriers, or a ban that excludes only a small portion of airspace.
- OPSGROUP quick assessment of risk shows a clear threat to operators, and that risk is at least moderate.
Level 2 – Danger exists
Criteria – any of these will trigger Level 2:
- A prohibition warning is issued by another state, for specific altitudes or areas (usually with a “Do not operate below FLxxx”), but not for the entire airspace
- More than one caution warning from other states.
- OPSGROUP quick assessment of risk shows a clear threat to operators, and that risk is at least low.
Level 3 – Caution – Info Only
- A single caution warning from another state.
- Current political, public order, or traveller safety situation may present risk
- Airspace is adjacent to a risk zone
Each operator is responsible for making their own judgement and risk assessment for countries operated over or to.
In other words, use the CZ&RD to get information, and initial guidance on risky areas, and then make up your own mind as to whether to use this airspace, or not.
The member airlines and aircraft operators of OPSGROUP provide information to us on what airspace they are avoiding. We de-identify the operator, and create a report showing the different risk policies as a percentage for each country. This allows you to see, very simply, what others are doing.
We rely on your input. If you have information to add, please email email@example.com. You can also use this address to discuss any content here. The collaborative effort is our focus. We’re still a team of humans, and we miss stuff. If you see something missing here, please tell us! All submissions are anonymous, and our only concern is for the safety of all airspace users – the crew and the passengers. We appreciate your help.