Afghanistan

Risk Level: Two - Danger exists

[ about risk levels ]
There is an ongoing war in Afghanistan, which since NATO’s withdrawal in December 2014, has been fought between the state and several factions. Diversion/Landing to Afghanistan – don’t. Nowhere is safe. The UK and France advise that overflights should not be below FL250/260 respectively, but the US and Germany both advise FL330 - which we think is more sensible, given the mountainous terrain.

The primary risk is from indirect fire targeting airports and from surface-to-air fire targeting aircraft operating at low altitudes. Airports in Afghanistan have been targeted frequently by direct assault and indirect fire.

Major events:
Nov 2020: OAKB: Major rocket attack in Kabul. Nearly two dozen rockets were fired from vehicles in several neighborhoods around the city causing multiple casualties. The road between OAKB/Kabul Airport and the Intercontinental Hotel was also targeted with an explosive device.
Mar 2020: OAIX/Bagram was targeted by indirect fire on multiple occasions.
Sep 2017: Indirect attack on OAKB/Kabul Airport, when multiple munitions impacted within the airport perimeter.

Current warnings list :

Source Reference Issued Valid to
USA FAA Information Note Afghanistan 16 Apr 2021 Ongoing
USA Notam KICZ A0008/21 28 Mar 2021 28 Mar 2022
USA US FAA Background Notice 28 Mar 2021 Ongoing
France AIC 02/21 11 Feb 2021 Ongoing
Germany AIC 10/21 07 Jul 2018 Ongoing
UK UK AIP ENR 1.1 (1.4.5) 09 Oct 2015 Ongoing
Source: USA
Issued: 16-Apr-21, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Taliban forces intend to retaliate to the announcement that the withdrawal of US forces will be gradual, not immediate - as they believe this violates existing agreements. This has increased the risk to civil aviation. The Taliban have previously attacked aviation interests by a variety of means. There is threat of direct fire on the ground by rocket or mortar attacks, while the Taliban also have access to portable air defence systems.
Title: FAA Information Note - Afghanistan - Potential for Increased Violence.

Click the link for full text.
Source: USA
Issued: 28-Mar-21, valid until: 28 Mar 2022
Plain English: Stick to airways, and maintain FL330 or higher. If you have to land at airports in the country, minimise ground time; aircraft on the ground have been damaged or destroyed by indirect rocket or mortar fire from militant attacks.
A0008/21 (Issued for KICZ)
SECURITY..UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ADVISORY FOR THE KABUL FLIGHT INFORMATION REGION (OAKX).

THOSE PERSONS DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH A BELOW ARE ADVISED TO EXERCISE EXTREME CAUTION WHEN FLYING INTO, OUT OF, WITHIN, OR OVER THE KABUL FLIGHT INFORMATION REGION (FIR) (OAKX) AND OPERATE ONLY ON ESTABLISHED AIR ROUTES AND AT ALTITUDES AT OR ABOVE FLIGHT LEVEL (FL) 330 TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT POSSIBLE. SUCH PERSONS SHOULD ALSO MINIMIZE GROUND TIME IN AFGHANISTAN TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT POSSIBLE. THIS NOTAM RENEWS THE ADVISORY PREVIOUSLY CONTAINED IN NOTAM KICZ A0038/20.

A. APPLICABILITY. THIS NOTAM APPLIES TO: ALL U.S. AIR CARRIERS AND COMMERCIAL OPERATORS; ALL PERSONS EXERCISING THE PRIVILEGES OF AN AIRMAN CERTIFICATE ISSUED BY THE FAA, EXCEPT WHEN SUCH PERSONS ARE OPERATING U.S.-REGISTERED AIRCRAFT FOR A FOREIGN AIR CARRIER; AND ALL OPERATORS OF U.S.-REGISTERED CIVIL AIRCRAFT, EXCEPT WHEN THE OPERATOR OF SUCH AIRCRAFT IS A FOREIGN AIR CARRIER.

B. PLANNING. THOSE PERSONS DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH A (APPLICABILITY) PLANNING TO FLY INTO, OUT OF, WITHIN, OR OVER THE ABOVE-NAMED AREA ARE STRONGLY REMINDED TO REVIEW CURRENT SECURITY/THREAT INFORMATION AND NOTAMS; COMPLY WITH ALL APPLICABLE FAA REGULATIONS, OPERATIONS SPECIFICATIONS, MANAGEMENT SPECIFICATIONS, AND LETTERS OF AUTHORIZATION, INCLUDING UPDATING B450; AND, TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT POSSIBLE, PROVIDE AT LEAST 72-HOUR ADVANCE NOTICE OF PLANNED FIXED WING FLIGHTS TO/FROM AIRPORTS IN THE KABUL FIR (OAKX) TO THE FAA AT FAA-WATCH@FAA.GOV WITH SPECIFIC FLIGHT DETAILS.

C. OPERATIONS. EXERCISE EXTREME CAUTION DURING FLIGHT OPERATIONS. DUE TO ONGOING MILITARY OPERATIONS AND EXTREMIST/MILITANT ACTIVITY, OPERATE ONLY ON ESTABLISHED AIR ROUTES, AVOID OPERATING AT ALTITUDES BELOW FL330, AND MINIMIZE GROUND TIME IN AFGHANISTAN, TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT POSSIBLE. WHILE OPERATING AT LOW ALTITUDES, INCLUDING DURING THE ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE PHASES OF FLIGHT, AIRCRAFT ARE PRIMARILY AT RISK OF ENCOUNTERING SMALL-ARMS FIRE, ROCKET-PROPELLED GRENADES, AND ANTI-AIRCRAFT FIRE. U.S. AND AFGHAN MILITARY AIRCRAFT AND GOVERNMENT CONTRACTED CIVIL AIRCRAFT OPERATING AT LOW ALTITUDES HAVE ENCOUNTERED A MULTITUDE OF ANTI-AIRCRAFT FIRE INCIDENTS. THERE IS ALSO A RISK FROM SHOULDER-FIRED MAN-PORTABLE AIR DEFENSE SYSTEMS (MANPADS) WHEN OPERATING AT ALTITUDES BELOW FL330.

THOSE PERSONS DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH A (APPLICABILITY) MUST REPORT SAFETY AND/OR SECURITY INCIDENTS TO THE FAA AT +1 202-267-3333. THE JUSTIFICATION FOR THIS ADVISORY WILL BE RE-EVALUATED BY 28 MAR 2022. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION IS PROVIDED AT: HTTPS://WWW.FAA.GOV/AIR_TRAFFIC/PUBLICATIONS/US_RESTRICTIONS/.

SFC - FL329, 28 MAR 12:20 2021 UNTIL 28 MAR 23:59 2022 ESTIMATED. CREATED: 28 MAR 12:20 2021.
Source: USA
Issued: 28-Mar-21, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Stick to airways, and maintain FL330 or higher.
The combination of ongoing military operations and extremist/militant activity has resulted in a fragile security situation across Afghanistan. U.S. civil aviation operating in the Kabul Flight Information Region (FIR) (OAKX) at altitudes below Flight Level 330 (FL330), particularly for aircraft operating at low altitudes, including during the arrival and departure phases of flight, and on the ground in Afghanistan face continuing risks, described in more detail below. For this reason, on 28 March 2021, the FAA issued Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) KICZ A0008/21, advising U.S. civil aviation to exercise extreme caution during flight operations when operating into, out of, within, or over the Kabul FIR (OAKX). Additionally, this NOTAM advises U.S. civil operators and civil airmen, to the maximum extent possible, to operate on established air routes, minimize flight operations at altitudes below FL330, and minimize ground time in Afghanistan. NOTAM KICZ A0008/21 renews the advisory previously contained in NOTAM KICZ A0038/20.

The primary risk to U.S. civil aviation comes from indirect fire targeting airports and from surface-to-air fire targeting aircraft operating at low altitudes, including during the arrival and departure phases of flight. Direct assaults and/or indirect fire have frequently targeted airports and airfields in Afghanistan, which are also susceptible to insider threats. Rocket or mortar fire has disrupted flight operations at airports and airfields in Afghanistan and damaged aircraft. For example, in December 2020, a rocket attack targeting Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport (ICAO: OAKB) disrupted flight operations and reportedly damaged two civil aircraft parked on the airport apron when multiple munitions impacted within the airport perimeter. Indirect fire targeted Bagram Airfield (ICAO code: OAIX) on multiple occasions in 2020. In March 2021, an Afghan military Mi-17 helicopter was shot down in central Wardak Province. In early December 2020 an Afghan military helicopter was targeted by small arms surface to air fire (SAFIRE) resulting in one death. The two shoot down incidents demonstrate the risk to low- altitude flight operations in the Kabul FIR (OAKX). A direct assault on a facility adjacent to Bagram Airfield on 10 November 2019 affected airfield operations, and insider threats also remain a risk concern, as demonstrated by the September 2017 suicide bomber attack at an entry control point at Bagram Airfield, and a November 2016 insider attack that killed four people, also at Bagram.

While operating at low altitudes, including during the arrival and departure phases of flight, aircraft are primarily at risk of encountering small-arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades, and anti-aircraft fire. U.S. and Afghan military aircraft and government-contracted civil aircraft operating at low altitudes have encountered a multitude of anti-aircraft fire incidents. There is also a risk from shoulder-fired man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) when operating at altitudes below FL330. Although, to date, MANPADS have only been fired at military aircraft, there is a potential they may be used against civil aviation with little or no warning. Some MANPADS are capable of reaching a maximum altitude of 25,000 feet above ground level.

The FAA is closely monitoring for potential changes in the safety and security environment for U.S. civil aviation in the Kabul FIR (OAKX), including but not limited any changes associated with the May 1, 2021, deadline for coalition force withdrawal under the Joint Declaration between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the United States of America for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan, which is subject to the Taliban’s fulfillment of its commitments under the U.S.- Taliban agreement done at Doha, Qatar, on February 29, 2020. The FAA will continue to evaluate the extent to which U.S. civil aviation is able to operate safely in the Kabul FIR (OAKX).
Source: France
Reference: AIC 02/21
Issued: 11-Feb-21, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Overflights should be at FL260 or above.
From 09/04/2020 and until further notice, French air carriers and aircraft owners registered in France are requested to ensure that their aircraft maintain at all times a flight level above or equal to FL260 in the airspace of Afghanistan (OAKX FIR (KABUL)).
Source: Germany
Reference: AIC 10/21
Issued: 07-Jul-18, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Overflights should be at FL330 or above.
Level 1 (lowest risk level). Hazardous situation in Afghanistan. Civil German air operators are advised to take potential risk into account in their risk assessment and routing decisions within FIR KABUL (OAKX) below FL330 including landing, taxiing, parking and take off. Potential risk to aviation from anti-aviation weaponry and from being subject to collateral damage due to attacks on non-civilian targets at all airports.
Source: UK
Issued: 09-Oct-15, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Risk to aircraft overflying OAKB/Kabul FIR at less than FL250.
Hazardous Situation in Afghanistan

Potential risk to aviation overflying Kabul FIR at less than 25,000 ft above ground level (agl) from dedicated anti-aviation weaponry.

Operators are advised to take this potential risk into account in their risk assessments and routing decisions.