Somalia

Risk Level: Two - Danger exists

[ about risk levels ]
The situation on the ground is highly unstable and there is an inherent risk to civilians and aircraft. The central government has little control of the major cities and ports, with ongoing attacks from extremist militants targeting civilians who continue to show an intent to target aviation interests.

The primary risk is to overflying aircraft at the lower flight levels, which may be targeted by anti-aircraft-capable weapons. The US prohibits flights across Somalia’s airspace below FL260. Several other countries have issued airspace warnings advising against operating below FL260 (Note UR401 SIHIL-AXINA is excluded from this by one authority).

The secondary risk over the past few years has been the lack of ATC service for overflights of the HCSM/Mogadishu FIR - it has been Class G uncontrolled airspace. However, from 11 May 2022 there’s a new trial implementing Class A airspace here above FL245 each day from 0300-1800z. More info here.

Major events:
2020-ongoing: Multiple instances of Al-Shabaab attacks on HCMM/Mogadishu and nearby targets, including a UN compound.
May 2020: An Embraer EMB-120 was shot down while on approach to Bardale airstrip, killing all six people on board - an accidental shoot-down by Ethiopian forces stationed in the region to combat Al-Shabaab.

Read: OPSGROUP article: Al-Shabab: A Threat Beyond Somalia, Jul 2021

Current warnings list :

Source Reference Issued Valid to
Canada AIC 16/22 09 Feb 2021 Ongoing
France AIC 10/22 09 Apr 2020 Ongoing
USA SFAR 107 11 Dec 2019 07 Jan 2023
Somalia Notam A0035/18 13 Apr 2018 13 Jul 2018
Germany AIC 17/22 04 Feb 2016 Ongoing
UK UK AIP ENR 1.1 (1.4.5) 15 Jan 2016 Ongoing
Source: Canada
Reference: AIC 16/22
Issued: 09-Feb-21, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Overflights should be at FL260 or above.
Level 2 (Recommendation)
As of February 9, 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 FL260 within Somali airspace (Mogadishu FIR (HCSM)), due to the presence of terrorist organizations with confirmed anti-aviation weaponry and the presence of ongoing military operations in Somalia.
Source: France
Reference: AIC 10/22
Issued: 09-Apr-20, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Overflights should be at FL260 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 FL260 in the airspace of Somalia (HCSM FIR (MOGADISHU)).
Source: USA
Reference: SFAR 107
Issued: 11-Dec-19, valid until: 07 Jan 2023
Plain English: US operators are prohibited operating below FL260 in the airspace of Somalia.
The FAA continues to assess the situation in the territory and airspace of Somalia at altitudes below FL260 as being hazardous for U.S. civil aviation operations due to the poor security environment and fragile governance structure in Somalia, as well as the threat posed by al-Shabaab, an al-Qa'ida-aligned extremist group, and other extremists/militants. Al-Shabaab has demonstrated an intent and capabilities to target civil aviation operations in the territory and airspace of Somalia through a variety of means, including the use of an insider to smuggle a concealed IED onto a civil aircraft, use of anti-aircraft-capable weapons, and direct and indirect attacks on Somali airports. Al-Shabaab has frequently targeted Aden Adde International Airport (HCMM) with attacks using indirect fire, small arms fire and vehicle-borne IEDs. Al-Shabaab has conducted multiple mortar attacks targeting the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) at Aden Adde International Airport (HCMM), and has done so as recently as January 1, 2019. Al-Shabaab frequently conducts vehicle-borne IED attacks targeting Western interests and public venues in Mogadishu, including detonating vehicle-borne IEDs near malls (February 2019), hotels (November 2018) and near a security check point close to Aden Adde International Airport (HCMM) (June 2019). In addition, al-Shabaab is assessed to have access to anti-aircraft-capable weapons presenting a risk to U.S. civil aviation operations at altitudes below FL260. Furthermore, ISIS has a cell trying to gain influence in Somalia, which presents another extremist threat to Western interests, including civil aviation. ISIS elements in Somalia may have access to anti-aircraft-capable weapons.

In February 2019, AMISOM began to draw down its forces, as its mandate expires in 2020, and began transferring security responsibilities back to Somalia. During the AMISOM drawdown, al-Shabaab may attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in Somali security and increase attacks on remaining AMISOM bases and Western interests. For these reasons, the FAA is concerned the risk to U.S. civil aviation operations may increase as AMISOM continues its scheduled drawdown.

Therefore, as a result of the significant continuing risks to the safety of U.S. civil aviation in the territory and airspace of Somalia at altitudes below FL260, the FAA extends the expiration date of SFAR No. 107, § 91.1613, from January 7, 2020 until January 7, 2023. By this action, the FAA prohibits flight operations in the territory and airspace of Somalia at altitudes below FL260 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.
Source: Somalia
Reference: Notam A0035/18
Issued: 13-Apr-18, valid until: 13 Jul 2018
Plain English: Somalia themselves published a Notam in 2018 saying that armed conflict and a lack of Aeronautical information present a safety and security risk to aircraft.
HCMM/ADEN A0035/18

13APR 0913Z- OPRATORS SHOULD EXERCISE EXTREME CTN AND FULLY ASSES THE POTENTIAL RISKS TO FLIGHT SAFETY AND SECURITY WHEN PLANING OR COMDUCTING OPS INTO MUGADISHU AIRPORT DUE TO LACK OF IMFORMATION OR ARMED CONFLICTS STOP.

13 APR 09:30 2018 UNTIL 13 JUL 09:30 2018.
Source: Germany
Reference: AIC 17/22
Issued: 04-Feb-16, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Overflights should be at FL260 or above, except for UR401.
Level 2 warning (medium). Civil German air operators are recommended not to enter FIR MOGADISHU (HCSM) below FL260. Potential risk from anti-aviation weaponry, military operations and armed conflicts. Excluded from this recommendation is airway UR401 between waypoints SUHIL and AXINA.
Source: UK
Issued: 15-Jan-16, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Operators should avoid overflying Somalia airspace below 25,000ft AGL.
Hazardous Situation in Somalia

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

Operators are advised to avoid operating at less than 25,000 ft agl in Somalia (Mogadishu FIR - HCSM).