06 Apr 2020
World airspace risk map at SafeAirspace.net as at Apr 6th, 2020
About Safe Airspace
The Conflict Zone & Risk Database provides a single, independent, and eternally free resource for all airspace risk warnings, so that airlines and aircraft operators can easily see the current risk picture for unfamiliar airspace.
Safe Airspace is an initiative from OPSGROUP, an independent organization with 5000 members, made up of airlines, corporate flight departments, private operators, charter operators, military, and government.
Read more at SafeAirspace.net.
Sources of information
- Warnings issued by the country concerned. Operators should note that in general, the Civil Aviation Authorities of the countries whose airspace is determined to be unsafe are (very) unlikely to issue reliable guidance.
- Warnings issues by other states about that country. There are 4 main countries that provide important risk information: Germany, France, the UK, and the United States – and these have become the de-facto initiators of airspace warnings. These are issued for their own carriers and are not binding on operators from other states, but they are useful to determine risk levels.
- Other countries who issue risk information, carried here: South Africa, Malta, Ireland
- Verified reports from OPSGROUP members.
- Essential Risk information from other sources.
- Verified reports to firstname.lastname@example.org
LEVEL 1: Do not fly
Criteria: Any of these will trigger Level 1: A prohibition warning is issued by another state, with either a total ban for their carriers, or a ban that excludes only a small portion of airspace, OR an OPSGROUP quick assessment of risk shows a clear threat to operators, and that risk is at least moderate.
In the days following these events, many countries issued warnings to avoid the airspace of Iraq completely. Though some of these countries have since issued updated advice allowing overflights to resume at the higher flight levels, the US flight ban on Iraqi airspace was re-imposed on March 12, citing “heightened militia activities and increased tensions”.
Most airlines other than Middle Eastern carriers have now stopped overflying Iraq entirely. Traffic that normally operates through the Baghdad FIR now needs another route. The predominant choice for east-west flights into the Dubai area is a southerly routing via Saudi Arabia and Egypt. There are warnings for both of these airspaces as well. Northerly reroutes for Europe-Asia flights are predominantly using a Turkey-Armenia-Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan routing.
The aviation security picture in the Middle East, already fragile and unstable, is now unpredictable. For many operators, you may be starting to use routes that are unfamiliar and not before flown. Take the time to ensure your crews have the full package of charts, are aware of the risks in each FIR, are aware of the potential for GPS outages en-route (especially in the Turkish FIR), and have considered drift down over mountainous areas on the northerly routes.
September 2018 - Russian military aircraft shot down on the border between Damascus and Nicosia FIR.
Israel carries out occasional airstrikes on Syrian territory. Russia has accused the Israeli military of putting commercial flights at risk, by timing their airstrikes on Syria too close to flights arriving at Beirut and Damascus airports. On Feb 6, a commercial A320 flight en-route to Damascus was forced to divert to Russia-controlled Khmeimim air base to avoid coming under fire from Syrian air defences. Damascus ATC instructed the plane to divert, as the Syrian air defence systems engaged four Israeli F-16s, and the civilian aircraft could have found itself in the crossfire.
Almost no traffic overflies Syria, and it should be avoided.
As clarity of cause emerged, many countries have slowly issued warnings to avoid the airspace of Iran and Iraq. We now classify both these countries as Level 1 - Do Not Fly airspace. Tehran and Baghdad FIRs are off limits. Operating to airports in either Iraq or Iran is equally unadvisable.
Just hours prior to the shoot-down of the Ukraine Int Airlines flight in Tehran on Jan 8, the US FAA issued “Emergency Order” Notams banning all US operators from overflying the airspace of Iraq and Iran. This was in response to an Iranian missile strike on US military bases in Iraq, which had just occurred the same night.
Other countries have since issued warnings: the UK, Ukraine, Canada, Germany, and France.
Most airlines other than Middle Eastern carriers have now stopped overflying Iran entirely. The aviation security picture in the Middle East, already fragile and unstable, is now unpredictable. For many operators, you may be starting to use routes that are unfamiliar and not before flown. Take the time to ensure your crews have the full package of charts, are aware of the risks in each FIR, are aware of the potential for GPS outages enroute (especially in the Turkish FIR), and have considered drift down over mountainous areas on the northerly routes.
In recent months there have been a number of airstrikes targeting HLLM/Tripoli Mitiga airport. There are videos on social media showing planes landing at the airport as shells are falling in the background. In Nov 2019, militia advancing on the capital, Tripoli, declared a no-fly-zone around the city, and there is now a very real chance that they will shoot-down civil aircraft attempting to fly to HLLM/Tripoli Mitiga airport.
Risk remains high across Libya at all flight levels, and avoidance of all airspace and airports is strongly recommended.
LEVEL 2: Danger exists
Criteria: Any of these will trigger Level 2: A prohibition warning is issued by another state, for specific altitudes or areas (usually with a “Do not operate below FLxxx”), but not for the entire airspace, OR more than one caution warning from other states, OR an OPSGROUP quick assessment of risk shows a clear threat to operators, and that risk is at least low.
-July 2019: British Airways suspends Cairo operations for one week due to security concerns
-In February 2017 an an SA-7 anti-aircraft missile tube was found less than a mile from HECA/Cairo airport.
-In October 2015 a Russian A321 was brought down over the Sinai peninsula by a bomb loaded at HESH/Sharm El Sheikh. The group claimed the IED was placed aboard the aircraft prior to departing HESH, raising concerns of potential insider threats at the airport.
There remains a threat from terrorism in Egypt, particularly in the Sinai Peninsular - most countries advise against operating to airports in this region, as well as overflights below FL260.
North KoreaLevel 2
Saudi ArabiaLevel 2
South SudanLevel 2
First: arms fire. Including MH17, multiple aircraft (the others all military) have been shot down since the beginning of the Donbass region war in 2014. Multiple ceasefires have been declared and violated. This risk is contained within the Dnipropetrovsk FIR – UKDV.
The second issue affects the Simferopol FIR which is Disputed Airspace. (Ukraine:UKFV, Russia:URFV). In March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea. The ATC Center is in Simferopol, Crimea, and is now run by Russia. Russia claims the airspace. Ukraine refuses to recognise the change, and asks crews to talk to Ukrainian controllers in Dnipro/Odesa ACC instead of Simferopol ACC. As the FAA point out, the risk here stems from aircraft “receiving confusing and conflicting air traffic control instructions from both Ukrainian and Russian ATC” when operating over the region.
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 (click here to see a rough map of the area) due to military ops across the region.
LEVEL 3 : Caution
Criteria: A single caution warning from another state, OR Current political, public order, or traveller safety situation may present risk, OR Airspace is adjacent to a risk zone