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. The GCCC/Canarias FIR has issued a Notam warning operators to avoid using the airways over Western Sahara below FL200.

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.

Read: Opsgroup article - Western Sahara Airspace Update, May 2021.

Current warnings list :

Source Reference Issued Valid to
Spain Notam GCCC B6602/21 03 Sep 2021 01 Oct 2021
USA FAA Information Note Morocco/Western Sahara 19 Nov 2020 Ongoing
Source: Spain
Issued: 03-Sep-21, valid until: 01 Oct 2021
Plain English: Operators should avoid the airspace over Western Sahara below FL200.
OPERATORS ARE REQUESTED TO EXERCISE PARTICULAR CAUTION DURING FLIGHT OPERATIONS IN WESTERN SAHARA AS PART OF FIR CANARIAS. IT IS RECOMMENDED TO AVOID OVERFLIGHT AT FLIGHT LEVELS BELOW FL200 ON THE FOLLOWING ROUTES: UY601, UN728 AND UT975.
Source: USA
Issued: 19-Nov-20, valid until: Ongoing
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.
Title: FAA Information Note - Morocco/Western Sahara - Potential Conflict Concerns

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