Western Sahara

Risk Level: Three - Caution

[ about risk levels ]
A new conflict zone is emerging in Western Sahara. The country is split down the middle - Morocco controls the west, and the region’s independence movement, the Polisario, controls the east. The Polisario have declared war on Morocco.

The primary risk is from anti-aircraft fire from the conflict. The FAA has published a note warning that the Polisario likely have access to anti-aircraft weaponry which may pose an inadvertent risk to civil aircraft up to FL120. In addition, the GCCC/Canarias FIR has issued a Notam warning that overflights should be completely avoided over the part of Western Sahara that falls within the GCCC/Canarias FIR (i.e. airways UY601 and UN728). For the part of Western Sahara that sits under the GOOO/Dakar FIR (i.e. airway UT975), they say overflights should not be below FL245.



The secondary risk is from lack of continuous ATC coverage. Western Sahara does not control its own airspace - it falls within both the GCCC/Canarias and the GOOO/Dakar FIRs, which may complicate airspace management should the conflict escalate. The FAA advise aircraft operating in the region to stay in touch with ATC and be prepared for possible airspace restrictions and reroutes.

Current warnings list :

Source Reference Issued Valid to
Spain Notam GCCC B2396/21 29 Mar 2021 05 May 2021
USA FAA Information Note Western Sahara Conflict - 19 NOV 2020 19 Nov 2020 19 Nov 2021
Source: Spain
Issued: 29-Mar-21, valid until: 05 May 2021
Plain English: Overflights should completely avoid the part of Western Sahara that falls within the GCCC/Canarias FIR (i.e. airways UY601 and UN728). For the part of Western Sahara that sits under the GOOO/Dakar FIR (i.e. airway UT975), overflights should not be below FL245.
OPERATORS ARE REQUEST TO EXERCISE PARTICULAR CAUTION DURING FLT OPS IN WESTERN SAHARA AS PART OF FIR/UIR CANARIAS.

IT IS RECOMMENDED TO AVOID OVERFLIGHT FROM SFC TO FL245 ON THE FOLLOWING AREA:

274000N 0131000W, 274000N 0111400W, 274000N 0084000W, 260000N 0084000W, 260000N 0120000W, 233000N 0120000W BORDER FIR DAKAR UP TO 212000N 0140000W, 212000N 0165500W, 250000N 0154700W, 250000N 0153000W, 272200N 0134200W

AND FROM FL245 TO FL660 ON THE FOLLOWING AREA: 274000N 0131000W, 274000N 0111400W BORDER FIR DAKAR UP TO 212000N 0140000W, 212000N 0165500W, 250000N 0154700W, 250000N 0153000W, 272200N 0134200W.

29 MAR 05:27 2021 UNTIL 04 MAY 23:59 2021 ESTIMATED. CREATED: 29 MAR 05:28 2021
Source: USA
Issued: 19-Nov-20, valid until: 19 Nov 2021
Plain English: Potential new conflict zone in Western Sahara, including anti-aircraft weaponry which may pose an inadvertent risk to civil aircraft up to FL120.
FAA Threat Analysis Division Information Note warning of potential new conflict zone in Western Sahara. Regional forces in the east have declared war on Moroccan forces in the west, and likely have access to anti-aircraft weaponry which may pose an inadvertent risk to civil aircraft up to FL120. Download PDF for full report.