Iraq

Risk Level: One - Do Not Fly

[ about risk levels ]
Iraq is an active conflict zone. Local and foreign military continue to fight against an armed insurgency that has existed since 2017. There is a high risk to civil aircraft. Iraqi airspace (ORBB/Baghdad FIR) should be avoided entirely.

Several countries have issued airspace warnings advising against operating in Iraqi airspace at the lower flight levels. The airspace adjoining the Baghdad FIR is also at risk: Iran, Turkey, Syria and Saudi Arabia.
 
The primary risk is intentional targeting by terrorist organisations who possess portable anti-aircraft weaponry. Civil aircraft may also be misidentified by the air defence systems of both local and foreign military who are active in the country. Airspace warnings issued by foreign aviation authorities allow for overflights at the higher flight levels (and eastern airways UM860 and UM688 are heavily flown international air routes), but there is a clear risk to civil aircraft operating throughout the FIR at all levels.
 
Major events:
Sep 2022: Iran closed a section of airspace in the north of the country along the border with Iraq, and is using the area to launch missile and drone attacks at targets near ORER/Erbil Airport. Iran are warning their own operators against flying in Iraqi airspace.
Oct 2021: US operators can now overfly the ORBB/Baghdad FIR above FL320. KICZ Notam A0036/20 which banned flights at all levels has been cancelled, and the SFAR now applies.
Jan 2020: Ukrainian Airlines 737 misidentified and shot down by Iranian armed forced in Tehran hours after retaliatory missile attacks against US bases in Iraq.
Jan 2020: US drone strike near ORBI/Baghdad killed a high ranking Iranian general. Considered a serious escalation. Anything that looks like a US asset or ally is now considered a target.
2020 onwards: Multiple rocket attacks on ORBI/Baghdad and the US embassy.

Read: Iraq Airspace Risk For Overflights, Sep 2022 (OPSGROUP article)

Current warnings list :

Source Reference Issued Valid to
USA FAA Information Note Iraq 06 Oct 2022 Ongoing
USA SFAR 77 20 Sep 2022 26 Oct 2024
UK Notam EGTT V0028/22 12 Sep 2022 Ongoing
Iraq Notam ORBB A0546/22 05 Sep 2022 05 Dec 2022
Germany AIC 20/22 02 Sep 2022 Ongoing
France AIC 24/22 28 Apr 2022 Ongoing
Canada AIC 16/22 18 Nov 2021 Ongoing
USA FAA Information Note Iraq 22 Oct 2021 Ongoing
USA FAA Information Note Iraq 15 Jun 2021 Ongoing
USA FAA Information Note Iraq 08 Jun 2021 Ongoing
USA FAA Information Note Iraq 23 Apr 2021 Ongoing
USA FAA Information Note Iraq 15 Apr 2021 Ongoing
South Africa Notam FAJA A1491/20 11 Apr 2020 Ongoing
Iraq Notam A0018/20 08 Jan 2020 15 Jan 2020
Source: USA
Issued: 06-Oct-22, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Ongoing political turmoil, militant activities, and military operations in Iraq poses an elevated risk to aviation and airspace safety. In recent months, militants have fired rockets in Baghdad’s Green Zone, causing flight disruptions at nearby ORBI/Baghdad airport; Iran continues to target northern Iraq with missile and drone attacks; and Turkey has been launching attacks along Iraq’s northern border.
Title: FAA Information Note - Iraq - Violence Poses Elevated Risk to Civil Aviation amidst Political Turmoil.

Click the link for full text.
Source: USA
Reference: SFAR 77
Issued: 20-Sep-22, valid until: 26 Oct 2024
Plain English: US operators are prohibited from overflying the ORBB/Baghdad FIR below FL320 due to risks posed by military activity, and terrorist attacks against airports.
This action extends, for an additional two years, the prohibition against certain flight operations in the Baghdad FIR (ORBB) at altitudes below Flight Level 320 (FL320) by all: U.S. air carriers; U.S. commercial operators; 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 operators of U.S.-registered civil aircraft, except when the operator of such aircraft is a foreign air carrier. The FAA finds this action necessary to address continuing hazards to persons and aircraft engaged in such flight operations due to the complex security environment that currently exists in the Baghdad FIR (ORBB) and the associated safety-of-flight hazards, as described in the preamble to this final rule. The FAA also republishes, with minor administrative revisions, the approval process and exemption information for this Special Federal Aviation Regulation.
Source: UK
Issued: 12-Sep-22, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Overflights of the ORBB/Baghdad FIR should be at FL320 or above. (Supersedes the info in the UK AIP which says that overflights should be on airways UL602 to ALPET, UM860 and UM688, when operating above 25,000ft AGL.)
CURRENT AIRSPACE WARNING - SECURITY - HAZARDOUS SITUATION IN IRAQ - REPLACE THE CURRENT ENTRY WITH THE FOLLOWING: UK REGISTERED AIR OPERATORS ARE RECOMMENDED TO MAINTAIN A FLIGHT LEVEL EQUAL TO, OR ABOVE, FL320 IN FIR BAGHDAD (ORBB). POTENTIAL RISK FROM ANTI-AIRCRAFT WEAPONRY. CONTACT UK DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT +44 (0)207-082 6639 OR +44 (0)207-944 5999 OUT OF HOURS. UK AIP ENR 1.1, PARAGRAPH 1.4.5 REFERS. SFC - UNL.
Source: Iraq
Issued: 05-Sep-22, valid until: 05 Dec 2022
Plain English: Iraq is warning operators to expect GPS jamming on approach to ORER/Erbil Airport, as well as for overflights heading southbound in the northern part of Iraq along airway UM688 from RATVO to VAXEN.
1-ALL AIRLINES FLYING THROUGH BAGHDAD FIR-ORBB SHOULD EXPECT GPS JAMMING/GNSS INTERFERENCE IN THE NORTHERN PART OF IRAQ ALONG THE ATS ROUTE UM688 FROM RATVO TO VAXEN.
2-ALL AIRLINES WITH DESTINATION ORER SHOULD EXPECT GPS JAMMING/GNSS INTERFERENCE DURING FINAL APPROACH PHASES.
3-PILOTS ARE EXPECTED TO INFORM THE RELEVANT ATS UNIT IN THE EVENT OF GPS SIGNAL OUTAGE IN ORDER TO REPORT IT TO THE CONCERNED AUTHORITIES AND TAKE THE APPROPRIATE ACTION TO ENSURE THAT ALL FLIGHT OPERATIONS ARE CARRIED IN SAFE AND EFFICIENT MANNER.
05 SEP 00:00 2022 UNTIL 04 DEC 23:59 2022.
CREATED: 04 SEP 10:46 2022
Source: Germany
Reference: AIC 20/22
Issued: 02-Sep-22, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Overflights of the ORBB/Baghdad FIR should be at FL280 or above.
Level 2 warning (medium). Civil German air operators are recommended not to enter FIR BAGHDAD (ORBB) below FL280. Potential risk from military operations, anti-aviation weaponry and terrorist attacks. Civil German air operators are advised to take potential risk into account in their risk assessment and routing decisions within FIR BAGHDAD (ORBB) at and above FL280. Potential risk from antiaviation weaponry.
Source: France
Reference: AIC 24/22
Issued: 28-Apr-22, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Overflights should only be on airways UM860 or UL602/L718 northbound or UM688 southbound, at or above FL320.
From 28/04/2022 and until further notice, pilots in command of aircraft performing air services mentioned in paragraph 1.1 are requested not to penetrate into the airspace of Iraq (ORBB FIR (BAGDAD)), except for routes UM860 (between GADSI and NINVA), UM688, UL602 (between TASMI and ALPET) and L718 (between ALPET and KABAN) on which a flight level above or equal to FL320 is requested to be maintained at all times.


Subject to the agreement of the organizations providing air traffic control services, it is authorized, always maintaining at all times a flight level above or equal to FL320, to take the following direct trajectories:
Northbound : TASMI – UL602 – ALPET – L718 – DEBNI DCT EMIDO – L718 - KABAN
Northbound : TASMI DCT SEPTU DCT ROXOP - - UM860 – NINVA
Southbound : RATVO – UM688 – KEDIM DCT SISIN - UM688 – SIDAD
Source: Canada
Reference: AIC 16/22
Issued: 18-Nov-21, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Operators should not overfly the ORBB/Baghdad FIR below FL320.
Level 2 (Recommendation)
As of November 18, 2021, and until further notice, Canadian Air Operators and owners of aircraft registered in Canada are advised to maintain a flight level equal to or above flight level FL320 in the airspace of Iraq (Baghdad FIR (ORBB)), due to the potential risk from military activity and anti-aviation weaponry in Iraq.
Source: USA
Issued: 22-Oct-21, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: US operators can now overfly the ORBB/Baghdad FIR above FL320. KICZ Notam A0036/20 which banned flights at all levels has been cancelled, and the SFAR now applies.
Title: FAA Information Note - Iraq - FAA Permits US Civil Aviation to Resume Overflights above FL320.

Click the link for full text.
Source: USA
Issued: 15-Jun-21, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: ORBI/Baghdad airport was targeted by weaponized drones on June 14, for the second time in a week. Local militia continue to show intent to target US interests at airports. This is exposing low level aircraft to risk from rocket and drone activity along with air defence systems.
Title: FAA Information Note - Iraq - Weaponized UAS Attack against U.S. Interests at Baghdad International Airport.

Click the link for full text.
Source: USA
Issued: 08-Jun-21, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Recent rocket and drone attacks on ORBI/Baghdad and a nearby air base. Local militia are showing a renewed intent to target US interests at airports. This is exposing low level aircraft to risk from their activities, along with misidentification or miscalculation by air defence systems.
Title: FAA Information Note - Iraq - Attacks on US Interests in Iraq

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Source: USA
Issued: 23-Apr-21, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: More weaponised drones and indirect fire attacks are likely across Iraq, increasing the risk to aviation. At least three rockets were fired at ORBI/Baghdad on Apr 22, which wounded one person. Several more unfired rockets were found stashed on the rooftop of a nearby building which overlooks the airport. Iranian backed militia are thought to be responsible and continue to actively target US interests at airports throughout Iraq.
Title: FAA Information Note - Iraq - Rocket Attack Hits Baghdad International Airport.

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Source: USA
Issued: 15-Apr-21, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Explosive drone attack by militia on US interests at ORER/Erbil Airport on April 14. It is unique as these kinds of attacks usually use less accurate rockets and mortars. It may signify that militia have increasing access to more sophisticated weapons which may pose a new threat to airports throughout Iraq including ORBI/Baghdad.
Title: FAA Information Note - Iraq - UAS Attack against Erbil Air Base.

Click the link for full text.
Source: South Africa
Issued: 11-Apr-20, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Overflights should be above FL300.
FLT TO AND FM IRAQ POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS SITUATION - IRAQ AIRSPACE.
DUE TO THE POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS SITUATION CREATED BY THE ARMED CONFLICT IN IRAQ. ALL FLT OPS IN THE TERRITORY AND AIRSPACE OF IRAQ AT OR BLW FL300 BY THE PERSONS DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH A, ARE STRONGLY ADZ UFN.
(1) OVERFLIGHTS OF IRAQ ABOVE FL200 BUT AT OR BLW FL300
(2) OPS AT OR BLW FL300 BY FLT DEP FM THE COUNTRIES ADJ TO IRAQ WHOSE CLIMB PER WILL NOT PERMIT OPS ABV FL300 PRIOR TO ENTERING IRAQI AIRSPACE
(3) FLT ORIGINATING FM OR DESTINED TO AREAS OUTSIDE OF IRAQ TO OR FM ERBIL INTL AP (ORER) OR SULAYMANIYAH INT AP (ORSU) WI THE TERRITORY OF IRAQ NORTH OF 34DEG 30MIN NORTH LAT.
APPLICABILITY: THIS NOTAM APPLIES TO ALL SOUTH AFRICAN AIR CARRIERS AND COMMERCIAL OPR, ALL OPR/PERSONS EXER THE PRIVILEGES OF AN AOC ISSUED BY THE SACAA, EXC SUCH OPR/PERSONS OPR SOUTH AFRICAN REGISTERED ACFT FOR A FOREIGN AIR CARRIER. THIS ADVISORY ON OPS IN THE AIRSPACE SPECIFIED IN THIS NOTAM AND THE ASSOCIATED JUSTIFICATION WILL BE RE-EVALUATED AS THE SITUATION REQUIRES.
Source: Iraq
Reference: Notam A0018/20
Issued: 08-Jan-20, valid until: 15 Jan 2020
Plain English: Iraq issues warning to operators that Iran fired missiles into the ORBB/Baghdad FIR, altitude and trajectory unknown.
ORBB A0018/20

ACCORDING TO MEDIA INFORMATION MISSILES WERE REPORTED BEING LAUNCHED FROM OIIX INTO ORBB. ALTITUDE AND TRAJECTORY UNKNOWN. AIRLINES ARE ADVISED TO EXERCISE CAUTION.

08 JAN 14:35 2020 UNTIL 15 JAN 23:59 2020. CREATED: 08 JAN 14:34 2020