Mali

Risk Level: Two - Danger exists

[ about risk levels ]
The northern Mali War has been ongoing since 2012, and there have been no improvements in stability. The US, Germany, France and the UK all have warnings in place, advising to operate FL250/260 or higher, and avoiding GATB, GAGO, and GAKL airports, due to ongoing fighting and militant activity. We would suggest, as usual, that a higher level closer to FL300 is more sensible.

The primary risk is from indirect mortar and rocket fire, including MANPADS, which could target aircraft at low altitudes and at airports. The FAA say that militants in Mali primarily target UN and Malian forces which are often based near to Malian airports, and these attacks present an indirect threat to civil aviation.

Major events:
Aug 2020 All airports across the country were closed from Aug 19-20 following a military coup which overthrew the government. Bamako ACC remained operational throughout, with overflights unaffected.
April 2018: Militants attacked UN peacekeepers at two bases near GATB/Timbuktu Airport using both indirect fire weapons and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices.
Jan 2017 and Nov 2016: Militants conducted vehicle-borne improvised explosive attacks against GAGO/Gao Airport, and rocket attacks against GATB/Timbuktu Airport.

Senegal and Niger control the airspace over Mali, and they have long-standing Notams (published under the GOOO/Dakar and DRRR/Niamey FIRs) warning that you can only fly between FL320-400 through the entire airspace in Mali north of the GABS/Bamako TMA due to military ops across the region.



Current warnings list :

Source Reference Issued Valid to
USA Notam KICZ A0009/22 26 Feb 2022 27 Feb 2023
USA US FAA Background Notice 26 Feb 2022 Ongoing
France AIC 24/22 09 Apr 2020 Ongoing
Germany AIC 20/22 16 Aug 2017 Ongoing
UK UK AIP ENR 1.1 (1.4.5) 09 Jun 2017 Ongoing
Source: USA
Issued: 26-Feb-22, valid until: 27 Feb 2023
Plain English: Avoid operating below FL260 in Mali's airspace due to ongoing fighting and militant activity.
SECURITY..UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ADVISORY FOR MALI THOSE PERSONS DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH A (APPLICABILITY) BELOW SHOULD EXERCISE CAUTION WHEN FLYING INTO, OUT OF, WITHIN, OR OVER THE TERRITORY AND AIRSPACE OF MALI AT ALTITUDES BELOW FLIGHT LEVEL (FL) 260 DUE TO A CONTINUING FRAGILE SECURITY SITUATION, INCLUDING ONGOING FIGHTING AND EXTREMIST/MILITANT ACTIVITY.
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 WHERE 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 AT ALTITUDES BELOW FL260 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 FLIGHTS TO THE FAA AT FAA-WATCH@FAA.GOV WITH SPECIFIC FLIGHT DETAILS.
C. OPERATIONS. EXERCISE CAUTION DURING FLIGHT OPERATIONS DUE TO ONGOING FIGHTING AND THE POSSIBILITY OF ATTACKS ON CIVIL AVIATION BY EXTREMISTS/MILITANTS. AIRCRAFT MAY ENCOUNTER FIRE FROM SMALL ARMS; INDIRECT FIRE WEAPONS, SUCH AS MORTARS AND ROCKETS; AND ANTI-AIRCRAFT-CAPABLE WEAPONS, INCLUDING MAN-PORTABLE AIR DEFENSE SYSTEMS (MANPADS). SUCH WEAPONS COULD TARGET AIRCRAFT AT LOW ALTITUDES, INCLUDING DURING THE ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE PHASES OF FLIGHT, AND/OR AIRPORTS AND AIRCRAFT ON THE GROUND. THOSE PERSONS DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH A (APPLICABILITY) MUST REPORT SAFETY AND/OR SECURITY INCIDENTS TO THE FAA AT +1 202-267-3333.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION IS PROVIDED AT: HTTPS://WWW.FAA.GOV/AIR_TRAFFIC/PUBLICATIONS/US_RESTRICTIONS/.
SFC - FL259, 26 FEB 12:22 2022 UNTIL 26 FEB 23:59 2023 ESTIMATED.
CREATED: 26 FEB 12:31 2022
Source: USA
Issued: 26-Feb-22, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Avoid operating below FL260 in Mali's airspace due to ongoing fighting and militant activity.
Due to a continuing fragile security situation, including ongoing fighting, and extremist/militant activity, the FAA assesses there is continuing risk to U.S. civil aviation flying into, out of, within or over the territory and airspace of Mali at altitudes below Flight Level (FL) 260. As a result, on 26 Feb 2022, the FAA published Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) KICZ A0009-22, advising U.S. civil aviation to exercise caution when flying into, out of, within or over the territory and airspace of Mali at altitudes below FL260.

Mali was suspended from the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) following a 24 May 2021 coup. On 7 November 2021, ECOWAS imposed sanctions on members of the Malian National Transitional Council (NTC) for their lack of progress towards holding national elections. In turn, the Malian NTC denied overflight access to Malian airspace to air carriers from ECOWAS countries and to international overflights departing from or destined for airports located in ECOWAS countries.

Transitions in foreign counterterrorism and peacekeeping operations in Mali, as well as growing international pressure on Mali’s NTC government, have created increased uncertainty in the rule of law in Mali and regarding the rules of engagement for the various foreign security missions’ airspace operations. France’s Operation Barkhane counter-terrorism mission in Mali is scheduled to be drawn down by early 2022 with a reconfiguration of French forces into Task Force Takuba – a counterterrorism force composed of European Special Forces. However, Malian NTC officials are denying admission to Mali to personnel from some European countries. In late December 2021, Russian private military company Wagner began deploying to Mali, bringing over 1,000 personnel and military equipment. Wagner’s expanding operations in Mali may result in deployments of antiaircraft weapons, which may introduce additional potential airspace risk concerns, as seen in other Wagner deployments in support of counterterrorism operations, such as in Libya and Syria.

The security situation in the region continues to deteriorate, in part due to the freedom of movement extremists/militants have in the porous tri-border area between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Additionally, extremists/militant groups are expanding their attacks on local governments, security elements, and civilians, with more than 1,500 civilians being killed across this Central Sahel region in 2021. Extremist/militant groups also target Malian and international forces, who are often based in close proximity to civil airports. As a result, attacks against these forces present an indirect threat to civil aviation and associated infrastructure at the collocated airports. Extremist/militant groups have demonstrated their intent and capability to conduct both direct and indirect fire attacks, particularly in northern Mali, targeting airports and/or adjacent military camps. Southern Mali has been subjected to lower, but growing levels of violence.

International civil air routes transiting Mali’s airspace and aircraft operating to and from Malian airports, particularly in the area north of Mopti, are at risk from small arms; indirect fire weapons, such as mortars and rockets; and anti-aircraft-capable weapons, including man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). Such weapons could target aircraft at low altitudes, including during the arrival and departure phases of flight, and/or airports and aircraft on the ground. Some extremist/militant groups in Mali are suspected of possessing or having access to MANPADS. Some MANPADS have the capability to reach a maximum altitude of 25,000 feet. Attacks against aircraft in flight and/or Malian airports may occur with little or no warning.

The FAA will continue to monitor the safety and security environment for U.S. civil aviation operating in the territory and airspace of Mali, including Wagner’s deployment activity and potential introduction of advanced weapons capabilities, and make adjustments to its advisory for U.S. civil aviation as necessary.
Source: France
Reference: AIC 24/22
Issued: 09-Apr-20, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Overflights should be at FL320 or above.
From 09/04/2020 and until further notice, pilots in command of aircraft performing air services mentioned in paragraph 1.1 are requested to maintain at all times a flight level above or equal to FL320 in the part of the Niamey FIR (DRRR) located above the Malian territory.
Source: Germany
Reference: AIC 20/22
Issued: 16-Aug-17, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Overflights should be at FL260 or above.
Civil German air operators are recommended not to enter FIR NIAMEY (DRRR) and FIR DAKAR (GOOO) within the territory and airspace of Mali below FL260. Potential risk from anti-aviation weaponry and terrorist attacks at the airports Tombouctou (GATB), Gao (GAGO), Mopti (GAMB) and Kidal (GAKL).
Source: UK
Issued: 09-Jun-17, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Risk to aircraft overflying Mali airspace below 25,000ft AGL.
Hazardous Situation in Mali

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

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