Afghanistan

Risk Level: One - Do Not Fly

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US and allied forces have now pulled out of Afghanistan, and the Taliban have taken control of the country. Afghanistan’s airspace is now effectively closed to overflights - the OAKX/Kabul FIR is uncontrolled, and overflying traffic should route around the country.

The FAA now bans US operators from Afghanistan’s airspace, only permitting overflights on airways P500 and G500 in the far east of the OAKX/Kabul FIR. EASA, along with authorities in several western countries, are now advising operators to avoid Afghanistan’s airspace entirely.

The primary risks are direct and indirect fire targeting airports and from surface-to-air fire targeting aircraft operating at low altitudes. Additionally, the current conflict has led to zero ATC control across the entire airspace and an extreme threat to aircraft and crew safety and security on the ground.

Major events:
Aug 2021: US and allied military evacuations have finished at OAKB/Kabul airport. It is reportedly now under Taliban control. The FAA advises that there are no longer any ATC services available here, along with the entire OAKX/Kabul FIR.
Nov 2020: 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.

Read: OpsGroup Note - Afghanistan Ops Update & Situation Overview 13SEP2021

Current warnings list :

Source Reference Issued Valid to
France Notam LFFF F1515/21 27 Sep 2021 01 Nov 2021
EASA Note 27 Sep 2021 27 Dec 2021
Germany Notam EDWW B1287/21 16 Sep 2021 01 Jan 2022
Canada Notam CZQX H3064/21 16 Sep 2021 16 Dec 2021
USA US FAA Background Notice 14 Sep 2021 Ongoing
USA Notam KICZ A0029/21 30 Aug 2021 Ongoing
United Kingdom Notam EGTT V0020/21 26 Aug 2021 24 Nov 2021
Europe EASA Information Note 17 Aug 2021 Ongoing
Source: France
Issued: 27-Sep-21, valid until: 01 Nov 2021
Plain English: French operators should not enter the OAKX/Kabul FIR, except on airways P500/G500 at or above FL260. (This supersedes the info contained in French AIC 07/21).
FRENCH AIR CARRIERS AND CAPTAINS OF AIRCRAFT IN CHARGE OF AIR SERVICE OPERATED BY CARRIERS HOLDING AN OPERATING LICENCE ISSUED BY FRANCE, WHETHER THEY ARE CONTRACTUAL CARRIERS AND/OR OPERATING CARRIERS, OR PERFORMING AIR SERVICE THROUGH A WET LEASE OR A CODESHARE AGREEMENT AND ANY FLIGHT MADE WITH AN AIRCRAFT REGISTERED IN FRANCE, ARE REQUESTED NOT TO PENETRATE INTO THE AIRSPACE OF AFGHANISTAN FIR KABUL (OAKX) EXCEPT FOR ROUTES P500 / G500 ON WHICH A FLIGHT LEVEL ABOVE OR EQUAL TO FL260 IS REQUESTED TO BE MAINTAINED AT ALL TIMES IN THE PART OF FIR KABUL (OAKX). THIS NOTAM SUPERSEDES THE RESTRICTIONS CONCERNING AFGHANISTAN ISSUED IN AIC 07/21.
Source: EASA
Reference: Note
Issued: 27-Sep-21, valid until: 27 Dec 2021
Plain English: There remains an enduring threat to aviation facilities via indirect fire or via suicide bombers, and to overflying traffic due to the lack of ATC.
Due to the volatile situation in Afghanistan since the withdraw of Western military forces and the Taliban takeover of the country, including its aviation system, the Integrated EU Aviation Security Risk Assessment Group evaluated the impact on the security and safety for civil aviation in the region during its meeting held on September 20th, 2021.

Available information from various sources have been reviewed as well as intelligence assessments from Member States, INTCEN and information from airlines and other relevant parties, so as to perform the most accurate assessment possible of the situation and its impact on civil traffic in FIR Kabul.

On the basis of existing information, there remains an enduring threat to aviation facilities in Afghanistan, illustrated in particular by the suicide bombing that took place at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on August 26th, 2021 during the evacuation operations from Afghanistan - Indeed, Extremist Islamic non-state actor groups remain active and might sporadically target aviation-capable facilities via indirect fire or via suicide bombers, if not direct assaults.

From an operational standpoint, EASA would like to raise its primary concerns regarding aviation safety - These are due to a lack of a functioning Afghan civil aviation authority and air navigation service provider, and the absence or limited Air Traffic Service (ATS) capacities across the entire country - This is demonstrated by the issuance of a NOTAM (OAKXG1265/21) on September 16th stating that FIR Kabul remains 'Class G' uncontrolled airspace, followed by various NOTAMs indicating that the contingency plan for air traffic management in Afghan airspace has been activated - In this context, the Agency would like to highlight a heightened potential remains for unsafe air activity to occur over and within Afghan airspace for several months to come and will closely monitor progress made through the support provided by the Qatari and Turkish ATS technical teams.

EASA advises therefore air operators, as a precautionary measure, not to conduct any flights in FIR Kabul (OAKX) until further notice - However, an exception may be acceptable for transiting overflight operations on jet routes P500-G500 handled by Tadjik and Pakistan aviation authorities; routes mostly bypassing eastern Afghanistan.
 
The Group agreed to continue closely monitoring the situation, and to consider holding extraordinary meetings if necessary, to assess whether there is an increase of the risk for European air operators as a result of the evolution of the threat.

EASA would invite you to share this information with your airlines so that they take it into account in their own risk assessments, alongside any available guidance or directions from their national authorities as appropriate.

It would be appreciated if you and your partners would share any additional information that could contribute to enrich EASA’s assessments.

This recommendation is valid for a period of three (03) months following the issuance of this Information Note and might be reviewed as needed by this deadline.
Source: Germany
Issued: 16-Sep-21, valid until: 01 Jan 2022
Plain English: German operators are prohibited from entering the OAKX/Kabul FIR, except for overflights above FL330 on airways P500-G500.
SECURITY AFGHANISTAN POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS SITUATION - FIR KABUL(OAKX)

HAZARDOUS SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN

CIVIL GERMAN AIR OPERATORS ARE PROHIBITED TO PLAN AND CONDUCT FLIGHTS WITHIN FIR KABUL (OAKX). POTENTIAL RISK TO AVIATION FROM TERRORIST ATTACKS, HEIGHTENED MILITARY ACTIVITY AND DEDICATED ANTI-AVIATION WEAPONRY.

EXCEPTIONS FROM THIS PROHIBITION ARE AIRWAYS P500-G500 AT OR ABOVE FL330 FOR TRANSITING OVERFLIGHTS. CIVIL GERMAN AIR OPERATORS ARE ADVISED TO TAKE POTENTIAL RISK INTO ACCOUNT IN THEIR RISK ASSESSMENT AND ROUTING DECISIONS. POTENTIAL RISK TO AVIATION FROM MISSING CIVIL-MILITARY AIR TRAFFIC COORDINATION.

EMERGENCY SITUATION: IN AN EMERGENCY THAT REQUIRES IMMEDIATE DECISION AND ACTION FOR THE SAFETY OF THE FLIGHT, THE PILOT IN COMMAND MAY DEVIATE FROM THIS NOTAM TO THE EXTENT REQUIRED BY THAT EMERGENCY.

FURTHER INFORMATION: WEBSITE OF THE FEDERAL MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT AND DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURE OF GERMANY (WWW.BMVI.DE/KRISENMANAGEMENT).
Source: Canada
Issued: 16-Sep-21, valid until: 16 Dec 2021
Plain English: Canadian operators should not enter the airspace of Afghanistan except for overflights at or above FL320 on airways P500 and G500.
AIRSPACE SECURITY WARNING ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT IN RESPONSE TO THE VOLATILE SECURITY SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN. CANADIAN AIR OPERATORS AND OWNERS OF ACFT REGISTERED IN CANADA ARE ADVISED NOT TO ENTER THE AIRSPACE OF AFGHANISTAN (KABUL FIR (OAKX)), DUE TO THE POTENTIAL RISK FM EXTREMIST AND MILITANT ACT, DEDICATED ANTI-AVIATION WEAPONRY AND LIMITED RISK MITIGATION CAPABILITIES. EXCEMPTED FM THIS ADVISORY ARE AIRWAYS P500 AND G500 FOR TRANSITING OVERFLIGHTS AT OR ABV FL320.
Source: USA
Issued: 14-Sep-21, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: The primary risk on the ground and at lower altitudes relates to the ongoing threat of weapons activity and terrorist attacks - and following the withdrawal of US and coalition forces there are no longer any risk mitigation capabilities available at OAKB/Kabul airport. Although it is unlikely that Taliban would target civil aviation now that they have assumed control of the country, ISIS and other militant groups are still operating in Afghanistan outside of Taliban control. The primary risk for overflights relates to the lack of ATC service, functioning CAA and air navigation service provider. Bottom line, US operators are banned from the OAKX/Kabul FIR except for airway P500/G500.
Click on the link to download full PDF.
Source: USA
Issued: 30-Aug-21, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: US operators are banned from the OAKX/Kabul FIR except for airway P500/G500. Flights to and from OAKB/Kabul airport are no longer exempt.
SECURITY.. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FLIGHT PROHIBITION AGAINST CERTAIN FLIGHTS IN THE KABUL FLIGHT INFORMATION REGION (OAKX).

THOSE PERSONS DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH A (APPLICABILITY) BELOW ARE PROHIBITED FROM OPERATING AT ALL ALTITUDES IN THE KABUL FLIGHT INFORMATION REGION (FIR)(OAKX), EXCEPT AS PROVIDED IN PARAGRAPH B (PERMITTED OPERATIONS) AND PARAGRAPH C (ALLOWANCES) BELOW, DUE TO THE RISK POSED BY EXTREMIST/MILITANT ACTIVITY, LACK OF RISK MITIGATION CAPABILITIES, AND DISRUPTIONS TO AIR TRAFFIC SERVICES.

A. APPLICABILITY. THIS NOTAM DOES NOT APPLY TO THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. IT DOES APPLY 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 AIRCRAFT REGISTERED IN THE UNITED STATES, EXCEPT WHEN THE OPERATOR OF SUCH AIRCRAFT IS A FOREIGN AIR CARRIER.

B. PERMITTED OPERATIONS. THIS NOTAM DOES NOT PROHIBIT PERSONS DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH A (APPLICABILITY) ABOVE FROM CONDUCTING FLIGHT OPERATIONS IN THE ABOVE-NAMED AREA WHEN SUCH OPERATIONS ARE AUTHORIZED EITHER BY ANOTHER AGENCY OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE FAA OR BY A DEVIATION, EXEMPTION, OR OTHER AUTHORIZATION ISSUED BY THE FAA ADMINISTRATOR. OPERATORS MUST CALL THE FAA WASHINGTON OPERATIONS CENTER AT 202-267-3333 TO INITIATE COORDINATION FOR FAA AUTHORIZATION TO CONDUCT OPERATIONS.

C. ALLOWANCES. USE OF JET ROUTES P500-G500 IS AUTHORIZED FOR TRANSITING OVERFLIGHTS.

D. EMERGENCY SITUATIONS. IN AN EMERGENCY REQUIRING IMMEDIATE DECISION AND ACTION FOR THE SAFETY OF THE FLIGHT, THE PILOT IN COMMAND OF AN AIRCRAFT MAY DEVIATE FROM THIS NOTAM TO THE EXTENT REQUIRED BY THAT EMERGENCY.

THIS NOTAM IS AN EMERGENCY ORDER ISSUED UNDER 49 USC 40113(A), 44701(A)(5), AND 46105(C). ADDITIONAL INFORMATION IS PROVIDED AT:
HTTPS://WWW.FAA.GOV/AIR_TRAFFIC/PUBLICATIONS/US_RESTRICTIONS/
Source: United Kingdom
Issued: 26-Aug-21, valid until: 24 Nov 2021
Plain English: Due to the risk of anti-aircraft weaponry, operators are advised not to operate below 25,000ft AGL in the OAKX/Kabul FIR. This excludes airways P500 and G500 for overflights which are found near the eastern boundary on Afghan airspace.
AIRSPACE SECURITY WARNINGS ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT IN RESPONSE TO HAZARDOUS SITUATIONS WITHIN THE TERRITORY AND/OR AIRSPACE IN AFGHANISTAN. OPERATORS ARE ADVISED TO AVOID OPERATING AT LESS THAN 25,000 FT AGL IN AFGHANISTAN (KABUL FIR - OAKX) WITH THE EXCEPTION OF ROUTE P500/G500 FOR TRANSITING OVERFLIGHTS ONLY. THIS IS DUE TO THE THREAT FROM DEDICATED ANTI-AVIATION WEAPONRY. CONTACT UK DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT +44 (0)207-082-6639 OR +44 (0)207-944 5999 OUT OF HOURS. THIS NOTAM IS AN AMENDMENT TO UK AIP ENR1.1.1.4.5 CURRENT AIRSPACE WARNINGS, SERIAL 8. 2021-08-0694/AS4.
Source: Europe
Issued: 17-Aug-21, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Due to recent events, civil aircraft operating in the OAKX/Kabul FIR are exposed to a number of risks. There is currently no ATS available, while Taliban forces may have access to aircraft and weapons left behind by retreating forces. Security infrastructure at airports is very poor, if non-existent. EASA recommends commercial operators do not enter the OAKX/Kabul FIR until further notice.
In the wake of recent developments in Afghanistan, the Integrated EU Aviation Security Risk Assessment Group held an extraordinary meeting on 17 August 2021 on the use of Afghan airspace (OAKX/Kabul FIR) and has evaluated the impact on security and safety of all types of civil flight operations in the region.

Available information from various sources have been reviewed as well as intelligence assessments from Member States, INTCEN and information from airlines and other relevant parties, so as to perform the most accurate assessment possible of the situation and its impact on civil traffic in FIR Kabul.

Existing information on the armed clashes were reviewed, in particular the significant developments taking place from 6 August 2021 to date, where the Taliban have taken control of the vast majority of the country, including the following major airports in Afghanistan: Kandahar (OAKN/KDH), Herat (OAHR/HEA), Jalalabad (OAJL), Mazar-i-Sharif (OAMS/MZR), Konduz (OAUZ/UND) and Farah (OAFR/FAH).

The meeting also noted that the Taliban has usurped a substantial amount of military equipment in the process of taking control of military installations, airports and airbases across Afghanistan which possess additional threats to civil aviation. The rapid deterioration of the security situation at Kabul International Airport was also discussed by the Group.

On 16 August 2021 a NOTAM was issued for Afghan airspace stating that due to security reasons Kabul ACC is released to military control and no ATS will be available. Thus, aircraft transiting through the OAKX/Kabul FIR will be flying in uncontrolled airspace at their own risk (OAKX A0630/21).

The meeting also acknowledged that the threat posed to civil aircraft comes not only from ground-to-air weaponry but also from the potential use of the Afghan airspace by military aircraft operated by the Taliban, whose training, capability to deal with civil/military coordination is not assessed. The lack of navigational aids and the poor security and safety services on the ground would be critical in case of engine failures or emergencies on board, including the events of unlawful interference.

The Group also noted that as of 16 August 2021 all commercial flights at Kabul International Airport have been suspended indefinitely, with only military and humanitarian evacuation flights authorised.

On the basis of the information available, the Integrated EU Aviation Security Risk Assessment Group agreed that the situation in the region is unstable, with increasing safety risks to commercial aviation due to lack of Air Traffic Services. Therefore, EASA advises commercial operators as a precautionary measure not to conduct any flights in the OAKX/Kabul FIR until further notice.

This recommendation is valid until further notice and will be revisited at the next regular meeting of the Group which is scheduled to take place on 20 September 2021.

It would be appreciated if you and your partners would share any additional information that could contribute to the “Integrated EU Aviation Security Risk Assessment Group” assessment.
Please take this information and any other relevant guidance into account in your own risk assessments. We also invite you to share this information with your airlines.