Belarus

Risk Level: Two - Danger exists

[ about risk levels ]
There is an ongoing active conflict in Ukraine between Russian and Ukrainian forces. Ukraine closed its entire airspace to all civil traffic on Feb 24. Russia and Belarus have closed large sections of their own airspace near to their FIR boundaries with Ukraine.

The US has issued an outright ban barring its operators from the entire airspace of Belarus, and several other countries have issued warnings for the section of airspace in Belarus along its FIR boundary with Ukraine. Several other countries have also issued warnings for this airspace - we have not listed them all here due to sheer volume.

The primary risk is an unintended targeting of civil aircraft by military near the Belarus-Ukraine border, including misidentification (as with MAS17, UIA752), or confusion.

Read: OPSGROUP article: Ukraine and Russia Update March 2022

Prior to Feb 2022, several countries and aviation organisations had urged airlines and operators to avoid the airspace of Belarus, following the country’s interception of an international flight bound for Lithuania and forced to land in Minsk on May 23, 2021. The forced landing of this flight was politically motivated, and the crew were misled into believing that there was a credible security threat against the aircraft.

Current warnings list :

Source Reference Issued Valid to
France Notam LFFF F1291/22 16 Aug 2022 18 Nov 2022
Germany AIC 17/22 25 Feb 2022 Ongoing
USA Notam KICZ A0003/22 24 Feb 2022 Ongoing
Canada AIC 16/22 24 Feb 2022 Ongoing
EASA Safety Directive 2021-02 02 Jun 2021 Ongoing
EASA Safety Information Bullet 2021-10 25 May 2021 Ongoing
Source: France
Issued: 16-Aug-22, valid until: 18 Nov 2022
Plain English: French operators should not enter the airspace of Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova; should also not enter the airspace of Russia within 200nm of the FIR boundaries with Ukraine.
MILITARY INVASION OF UKRAINE BY RUSSIAN FEDERATION POSES A HIGH RISK FOR CIVIL FLIGHTS OPERATING AT ALL ALTITUDES AND FLIGHT LEVELS. AIR CARRIERS AND CAPTAINS OF ACFT IN CHARGE OF AIR SERVICE MANAGED BY CARRIERS HOLDERS OF OPERATING LICENCE ISSUED BY FRANCE, WHETHER THEY ARE CONTRACTUAL CARRIERS AND/OR DE FACTO CARRIERS, OR PERFORMING AIR SERVICE WITH COMMERCIAL CHARTER AGREEMENT OR WITH CODE SHARING AND TO ALL FLIGHT PERFORMED WITH FRENCH ACFT REGISTRATION ARE REQUESTED TO :
- NOT ENTER FIR LVIV (UKLV), FIR KYIV (UKBV), FIR DNIPROPETROVSK (UKDV), FIR SIMFEROPOL (UKFV), FIR ODESA (UKOV), FIR MINSK (UMMV) AND FIR CHISINAU (LUUU)
- NOT ENTER WITHIN 200 NM OF THE UKRAINIAN BORDER INTO THE FIR MOSCOW (UUWV) AND ROSTOV-NA-DONU (URRV)
- EXERCISE EXTREME CAUTION WHEN CONDUCTING FLIGHTS BEYOND 200 NM OF THE UKRAINIAN BORDER IN FIR MOSCOW (UUWV) AND FIR ROSTOV-NA-DONU (URRV).
THIS NOTAM SUPERSEDES THE RESTRICTIONS CONCERNING UKRAINE ISSUED IN AIC 10/22.
16 AUG 06:38 2022 UNTIL 17 NOV 23:59 2022. CREATED: 16 AUG 06:43 2022
Source: Germany
Reference: AIC 17/22
Issued: 25-Feb-22, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Should not operate in the airspace of Russia and Belarus within 200nm of the FIR boundaries with Ukraine.
Level 2 warning (medium). Civil German air operators are recommended not to enter FIRs MOSCOW (UUWV), ROSTOV-NA DONU (URRV) and MINSK (UMMV) within 200nm from Ukrainian airspace and territory. Potential risk from military activity.
Source: USA
Issued: 24-Feb-22, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: US operators are prohibited from the airspace of Belarus (the UMMV/Minsk FIR) due to to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
KICZ A0003/22
SECURITY..UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PROHIBITION AGAINST CERTAIN FLIGHTS IN THE MINSK FLIGHT INFORMATION REGION (FIR) (UMMV). THOSE PERSONS DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH A (APPLICABILITY) BELOW ARE PROHIBITED FROM OPERATING AT ALL ALTITUDES IN THE MINSK FLIGHT INFORMATION REGION (FIR) (UMMV) DUE TO POTENTIAL SAFETY-OF-FLIGHT RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH ONGOING HOSTILITIES.
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 SUCH PERSONS OPERATING U.S.-REGISTERED AIRCRAFT FOR A FOREIGN AIR CARRIER; AND ALL OPERATORS OF CIVIL 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. 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/.
SFC - FL999, 24 FEB 19:30 2022 UNTIL PERM. CREATED: 24 FEB 19:20 2022
Source: Canada
Reference: AIC 16/22
Issued: 24-Feb-22, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Canadian operators are prohibited from the airspace of Belarus.
Level 3 (prohibition)
SECURITY – HAZARDOUS SITUATION IN BELARUS. Canadian Air Operators and owners of aircraft registered in Canada are prohibited to enter FIR Minsk (UMMV), in the airspace of Belarus. Potential risk from anti-aviation weaponry and military operations.
Source: EASA
Issued: 02-Jun-21, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: EASA is requesting member states to tell their operators to “not conduct operations” in the UMMV/Minsk FIR, unless it is to ensure safe operation in case of unforeseen circumstances.
Subject: Operations in FIR Minsk (UMMV)

Applicability:
EASA Member States’ national competent authorities (NCAs) responsible for the certification and oversight of aircraft operators involved in air operations in accordance with Commission Regulation (EU) 965/2012. EASA Member States’ NCAs responsible for the certification and oversight of Air Navigation Service Providers in accordance with Commission Regulation (EU) 2017/373.

Reason:
On 23 May 2021, Ryanair flight FR4978, while overflying Belarus en-route to its final destination, Vilnius, was made to divert by Belarusian authorities and land in Minsk. The aeroplane ultimately departed and arrived in Vilnius with considerable delay after several passengers were forcibly disembarked in Minsk.

The circumstances surrounding this action cast serious doubts on the respect shown by Belarus for international civil aviation rules and is indicative of an abuse of air navigation procedures by the Belarusian authorities. As such, it is a breach of the principles underlying the mutual trust that are at the cornerstone of international civil aviation.

Until an international investigation clarifies the circumstances, EASA has reservations whether the Belarusian airspace can still be considered as safe for civilian flights by the international community, as there is no full confidence in the ability of the current Belarusian authorities to manage the Belarusian airspace in accordance with international agreements.

On 25 May 2021, EASA issued Safety Information Bulletin (SIB) 2021-10 advising aircraft operators, having their principal place of business in one of the EASA Member States, to avoid operations in FIR Minsk (UMMV), unless the use of that airspace is deemed necessary to ensure safe operation in case of unforeseen circumstances.

On 27 May 2021, the ICAO Council decided to undertake a fact-finding investigation of this event, and in this connection requested the ICAO Secretariat to prepare an interim report to the Council for a subsequent meeting of the current session, presenting the available facts and relevant legal instruments.

Information from air traffic management indicates that there are still operators having their principal place of business in EASA Member States that continue to operate in the FIR Minsk (UMMV). Accordingly, and after consulting with the EASA Member States and the European Commission, EASA decided to issue this SD determining safety objectives to be achieved and recommending corrective measures to be taken by the EASA Member States’ NCAs to ensure safety of aircraft operations.

Furthermore, in order to support the swift and uniform implementation of the appropriate measures within the EU and supporting the centralised flight planning system, EASA Member States are recommended to promulgate NOTAMs informing the operators about the measures taken pursuant to this SD.

EASA will monitor the developments in relation with this case and will adjust the recommendations accordingly. Such reviews will be done whenever the circumstances will require it and in any case at intervals not exceeding one month.

Safety Objective(s) to be achieved:
Reduce the potential risk to passengers and crews by avoiding operations in FIR Minsk (UMMV)

Recommended Corrective Action(s) to be taken:
Pending the finalisation of an international investigation into the incident that occurred on 23 May 2021 initiated by the ICAO Council on 27 May 2021, or until further notice:

(1)  EASA Member States’ NCAs should ensure that aircraft operators having their principal place of business in their territory will not conduct operations in FIR Minsk (UMMV), unless the use of that airspace is deemed necessary to ensure safe operation in case of unforeseen circumstances. 

(2)  In accordance with Paragraph (1) of this SD, EASA Member States’ NCAs should take all necessary measures to ensure prompt implementation of those restrictions, including measures related to the flight planning system and the issuance of a NOTAM to notify the restriction(s) to avoid operations in FIR Minsk (UMMV). 

Information on the actions taken:
(3) NCAs shall take measures to achieve the determined safety objective within 2 days from the effective date of this SD and inform EASA of those measures. This can be accomplished by reporting to ADs@easa.europa.eu.
Source: EASA
Issued: 25-May-21, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: EU and Third Country Operators should avoid the UMMV/Minsk FIR.
Subject: Operations in Belarus Airspace

Applicability:
Aircraft operators having their principal place of business in one of the EASA Member States (MS), and Third Country Operators authorised by EASA, when conducting operations to, from and within the EU.

Description:
On 23 May 2021, Ryanair flight FR4978, while overflying Belarus en-route to its final destination, Vilnius, was diverted by Belarusian authorities and forced to land in Minsk. The aeroplane ultimately departed and arrived in Vilnius with considerable delay after several passengers were forcibly disembarked in Minsk.

The circumstances surrounding this action cast serious doubts on the respect shown by Belarus for international civil aviation rules. The operational control of an aircraft rests with the operator and the aircraft commander, and they bear full responsibility for assessing the risk of any situation and for the subsequent decision making. The actions undertaken by Belarus amounted to an increased safety risk for the above-mentioned flight and put into question the ability of Belarus to provide safe air navigation services.

At this time, the safety concern described in this SIB is not considered to be an unsafe condition that would warrant Safety Directive (SD) action under Regulation (EU) 965/2012, Annex II, ARO.GEN.135(c).

Recommendation(s):
Pending the finalisation of an international investigation into the incident that occurred on 23 May 2021:
- Operators, having their principal place of business in one of the EASA MS, should avoid operations in FIR Minsk (UMMV), unless the use of that airspace is deemed necessary to ensure safe operation in case of unforeseen circumstances.
- Third Country Operators authorised by EASA, when conducting operations to, from and within the EU, are advised to avoid operations in FIR Minsk (UMMV), unless the use of that airspace is deemed necessary to ensure safe operation in case of unforeseen circumstances.