Air Traffic Management STRATEGY, TECHNOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT FOR THE WORLD'S MOST GLOBAL INDUSTRY Sat, 26 Jul 2014 20:26:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 ICAO calls high-level meeting on conflict risk Fri, 25 Jul 2014 19:54:49 +0000 More ››]]> The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has announced it is to host a special high-level meeting next Tuesday 29 July, with the directors general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Airports Council International (ACI) and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO).

The UN aviation agency said this meeting will discuss the appropriate actions to be pursued in order to more effectively mitigate potential risks to civil aviation arising from conflict zones.

A day earlier ICAO issued a State Letter, reminding applicable authorities in the 191 signatory States to the Convention on International Civil Aviation of the international provisions specifying State responsibilities with respect to the safety and security of civil aircraft operating in airspace affected by conflict.

“ICAO has decided to issue this State Letter in response to some confusion which has arisen over these provisions and the responsibilities which they specify,” stressed the UN Organization’s Council President, Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu. “We felt it prudent to ensure greater clarity and consistency with our Member States and Recognized Observer organizations on the international framework which applies, notably as these matters continue to be raised in public discussions following MH17’s tragic loss.”

The ICAO State Letter further highlights that the obligations of States should not be confused with safety information circulated from time to time by ICAO when potential hazards to civil aviation operations are brought to the attention of the Organization. It also draws the attention on the need for the appropriate authorities to consider and mitigate the safety risk and potential congestion consequences in the event that operators decide to circumnavigate various airspaces affected by conflict.

Its issuance is the latest of several actions taken by ICAO in the aftermath of the downing of Flight MH17, including coordination with the United Nations Security Council, the sending of experts to assist in the accident investigation and regular briefings to States of the ICAO Council.

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ICAO planning airspace security review Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:38:45 +0000 More ››]]> image-726883-galleryV9-foiiUN aviation agency ICAO has confirmed that it is consulting with airlines and aviation organisations across the world to review the way in which authorities deem airspace too dangerous for commercial air traffic at times of armed conflict.

A meeting is liekly to be held in Montreal next week with airline body IATA and other aviation organisations and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization and Airports Council International to discuss the respective roles of each in airspace over conflict zones.

On July 17, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was downed and crashed near the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

The UN Security Council condemned the downing of the passenger aircraft and unanimously voted in support of a thorough and independent international investigation of the incident amid growing calls for clarity, transparency and a level playing field on the process that alerts airlines to airspace dangers.

Responding to the growing pressure, ICAO chief Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu said the Montreal-based UN agency is now consulting with airline industry body IATA and regional aviation organisations ‘on the respective roles of states, airlines and international organisations for assessing the risk of airspace affected by armed conflict’.

Malaysian transport ministry adviser Tan Sri Kayveas has said Ukraine’s air traffic control UKsatse should bear some responsibility over the downing of MH17 as it was flying through that air navigation service provider’s jurisdiction.

Altitude“Airlines depend on governments and air traffic control authorities to advise which airspace is available for flights,” he said, noting that while ICAO had issued warnings to en route traffic not to fly below a 22,000 feet threshold – Ukraine’s controllers had instructed MH17 to fly above 32,000 feet – which it did at 33,000 feet.

The airline’s flight operations chief Captain Izham Ismail said that Flight MH17 planned to fly at 35,000 feet but was instructed to fly at the next best altitude at 33,000 feet, which was above the restricted altitude, due to other aircraft flying nearby.

“The Malaysian Airlines crew filed a flight plan and Russia and Ukraine both accepted the airplane into their airspace,” he said.

Russian news agencies are also reporting that the Moscow-based Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) has added its weight to calls by the industry to urgently take measures ensuring safe operation of civil aviation in combat areas.

In a statement published on its website, it said: “IAC calls on all states, international organisations and all international aviation community to cooperate in order to develop urgently concrete measures aimed at ensuring safe operation of civil aviation in the areas of military conflicts.”

Meanwhile, ICAO’s officials confirmed that the team in Farnborough has verified that the MH17 cockpit voice recorder (CVR) is in good condition and that the digital flight data recorder (DFDR) is still under review.

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FAA lifts Tel Aviv flight ban Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:04:48 +0000 More ››]]> The United States Federal Aviation Administration has lifted its restrictions on US airline flights into and out of Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport by cancelling a Notice to Airmen it renewed earlier yesterday.

The cancellation was effective at approximately 11:45 p.m. EDT.

Before making this decision, the FAA said it worked with its US government counterparts to assess the security situation in Israel and carefully reviewed both significant new information and measures the Government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation.

“The FAA’s primary mission and interest are the protection of people traveling on US airlines,” it said, adding that it will continue to closely monitor the very fluid situation around Ben Gurion Airport and will take additional actions, as necessary.

The FAA initially instituted the flight prohibition on Tuesday, July 22, in response to a rocket strike that landed approximately one mile from the airport.

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MH17 exposes failure of airspace risk regime Wed, 23 Jul 2014 19:36:23 +0000 More ››]]> War torn countries are the least likely to be able to conduct an honest appraisal of how dangerous their airspace is, according to a European pilots group which insists airlines need to be assess risk in a totally different way.

ECA which represents 38,000 pilots from across Europe said that the loss of Malaysian Airlines MH17 places the ability of the industry to adequately assess risks and the principles of flying over conflict zones under intense scrutiny.

“We share the public outrage over MH17, and we owe it to the passengers and crew who lost their lives, and all our future passengers, to see past this and focus on prevention first and foremost,” said Nico Voorbach, ECA president. “MH17 exposed a significant weakness – if not a failure – of international threat and risk assessment in civil aviation.”

“In hindsight, flying civilian aircraft over an area where powerful anti-aircraft systems capable of bringing down an airliner at cruising altitude are in active use is not acceptable,” said Voorbach.

He said that at first sight, appropriate risk assessment apparently did occur in the case of Ukraine. “But it only worked for the carriers of some countries,” he said. “The fact that some airlines had been avoiding the area based on their own assessment for weeks begs the question “why?”.”

“It appears that some airlines have the possibility of very good intelligence and advice from the most powerful national security services. It is not right that some countries may provide privileged risk assessment and advice to their carriers, whilst others are left at greater risk. After all, this is about people’s lives, not national silos.”

“Additionally, it would seem likely that some restrictions may be placed on what intelligence an airline can share with other airlines and stakeholders,” he said. “We must ask governments what those restrictions might be, and how we can ensure that the airlines are able to share information in such a way that the highest levels of risk avoidance can be rolled out to all.”

He said there may also be cases where there is some economic or commercial pressure for airlines to use privileged intelligence information to either fly more directly where it is safer in reality than commonly thought, or to avoid areas where it is less safe than widely understood. Voorbach said stakeholders needed to develop means to share this sort of security information for the benefit of all, in a way that excludes commercial considerations.

“Given that the only body currently able to close airspace is the nation state that ‘owns’ it, we need a system that does not rely on what may be a war-distressed country conducting an honest self-appraisal of its own risks,” he said. “They are the last body to be in a position to do this accurately. This is why we suggest an international approach that allows operators to risk assess and avoid efficiently rather than relying on external decision makers.”

He said the question of prevention, and what should have happened but did not, while not wholly dependent on the investigation requires th industry’s immediate attention and long-term thinking.

“Therefore Europe’s professional pilots are urging a thorough analysis of the industry’s approach to risk assessment, high level international intelligence sharing, and ultimately preventing tragic avoidable events like MH17,” he said.

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ICAO faces huge challenge on airspace risk role Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:28:48 +0000 More ››]]> Calls are growing for UN civil aviation agency ICAO to expand its role and issue safety advisories to give airlines more guidance on operating at time of conflict.

Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is made up of 191 signatory states, as well as global industry and aviation organisations, but has inisisted until now that it has a limited role and cannot open or close air routes or warn airlines to avoid regions.

Only national civil aviation authorities today have the power to restrict airlines from flying along certain routes and ICAO says it is up to member states to warn airlines about risks.

Following the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 by a missile over eastern Ukraine last week, killing 298 people, airlines and pilot organisations are calling for definitive guidance on operating safely in the proximity of zones of conflict.

“Whilst the ultimate responsibility of last week’s murders lies with the people who apparently directed a missile at a peaceful civil airliner, this should not prevent us looking at the failures that led to that outcome; failures that could easily be repeated in other areas of conflict,” said Jim McAuslan, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association.

“ICAO’s purpose should be to lead where national authorities cannot and it should have the tools to do that. The problem of the absence of a clear international co-ordination to avoid operations above eastern Ukraine has now become tragically obvious and to avoid a repeat ICAO should be better resourced and enabled to declare airspace unsafe.”

Any enhanced role by the UN agency would however beg huge questions within the industry over liability and airspace control.

The issue of airspace management will feature as part of the investigation under way on determining the cause of the MH17 tragedy.

A high ranking source who has held senior roles at ICAO tells Air Traffic Management that United Nations Security Council Resolution 2166 (2014) adopted on 21 July stresses the need for a full, thorough and independent international investigation and recognises the efforts underway by Ukraine, working in coordination with ICAO and other international experts and organisations.

“Any accident investigation under Article 26 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation and its Annex 13 will focus on the cause of an accident, but may also consider contributing factors. In this case, the direct cause of the accident is already clear: the aircraft was brought down by a surface-to-air missile,” he said.

“I cannot speculate on a different focus of the investigation, but a “full, thorough and independent international investigation” is a tall order, given the nature of the accident. Aviation authorities can make judgements about the safety of airspace only in light of information available to them. This question may be addressed in the investigation, but possible contributing factors to an accident should not detract from the primary focus, i.e. the cause of the accident.”

Another source from Ukraine air navigation service provider UkSATSE which was managing the MH17 flight through its airspace said: “On Monday, it was announced that all results of this tragedy will be revealed only after the official results of a special state commission including the state aviation authority, UkSATSE, ministers and their deputies together with representatives of the international community. At this particular moment UkSATSE is providing full access to its premises, equipment and recordings.”

The international investigation team, led by the Netherlands, has now passed the black boxes to the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch at Farnborough for forensic analysis. It is normal procedure for black boxes to be sent for analysis to the nearest laboratory authorised by ICAO.

The Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation which represents air traffic control agencies has said it does not see a role for a central body to issue advisories, and is recommending a review of existing systems and processes and actions to be taken with regard to the risks to airspace from potentially hostile actions.

Read More:
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NATS, military team on Commonweath Games Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:43:34 +0000 More ››]]> Glasgow ApproachNATS is working closer than ever with the military in order to deliver a safe and efficient air traffic service during the Commonwealth Games.

Teams from the Prestwick Control Centre and the control tower at Glasgow Airport, are collaborating with the military who are monitoring the prohibited and restricted airspace over Glasgow during the Games period.

This is a continuation of NATS’ close working relationship with the UK Ministry of Defence, as military controllers have worked closely with civilian controllers for years to ensure the safe, efficient and effective co-ordination of traffic in increasingly complex and congested airspace.

Glasgow tower is now home to HERMES Operations which comprises 17 military personnel, led by Wing Commander Robin Stedman; this military command cell will enable ‘business as usual’ for the general aviation pilots flying in Glasgow’s airspace.

The HERMES team is a bespoke group made up of Royal Air Force controllers and Air Battlespace Managers, who are air surveillance specialists. They have been working alongside NATS controllers in Glasgow since the 13 July and will remain until 6 August.

As well as managing the Airspace Booking Cell for GA pilots, the military will support Police Scotland and the wider military air security task by providing airspace management, ATC liaison and coordination in the Glasgow area.

Wing Commander Stedman said, “The NATS team at Glasgow tower has welcomed the HERMES detachment into their workplace and have provided all the infrastructure, operations and administration areas, and airspace briefs that are essential to our overall success.  The airspace is being managed in a collaborative way, with RAF personnel sat next to NATS controllers in the Approach Room, which ensures that any airspace issues or concerns can be addressed and resolved in the shortest possible time.

Gary Dixon, NATS General Manager at Glasgow Airport, added: “NATS is proud of the existing working relationship it has with the military and we’ve been very pleased to expand that partnership into Glasgow for the duration of the Games.”

Prestwick General Manager Operations, Jamie Hutchison, said: “The Commonwealth Games has provided a great opportunity for us to work more closely with the military and continue to build our relationships, putting us in a strong position for collaboration on future projects.”

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MH370 chief to lead MH17 repatriation effort Wed, 23 Jul 2014 09:09:06 +0000 More ››]]> Australia’s prime minister has appointed the retired air chief marshal who has headed the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 as his special envoy to lead the country’s efforts in Ukraine to help recover, identify and repatriate Australians killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

The search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared on 8 March on a flight to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, continues uninterrupted.

“We remain fully committed to conducting a thorough undersea search of the likely impact zone in the Indian Ocean,” said the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) in a statement.

Houston’s deputy Judith Zielke will oversee the operations of the JACC, ensuring that the public and other stakeholders, particularly the families of those on board, are kept informed about the progress of the search.

The JACC reports that a bathymetric survey of the 60,000 sq km search area is well underway, with two vessels, the Australian-contracted Fugro Equator and the Chinese survey ship Zhu Kezhen, mapping the ocean floor. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is coordinating this work.

“The bathymetric survey will give us crucial knowledge of the seafloor terrain to begin the actual underwater search,” said the JACC. “The ATSB is currently assessing tender documentation to engage a primary contractor to manage this complex operation.”

The underwater search is likely to commence in early September and take up to 12 months to complete. It will aim to locate the aircraft and any evidence (such as debris and the flight recorders) to assist the Malaysian investigation of the disappearance of MH370.

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Seeking Global Leadership Wed, 23 Jul 2014 07:30:41 +0000 More ››]]> indexThe British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) has today said that global leadership from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is urgently needed to respond to last week’s tragic incident in the Ukraine and in all operations in or over areas of hostility.

ICAO is the UN body responsible for co-ordinating the safety and order of global aviation across States, but BALPA has raised questions about whether it should have a greater leadership role and strengthened powers to go with that responsibility .

Jim McAuslan, BALPA General Secretary, said: “Individual pilots looking at their flight plans need to have absolute confidence that the right calls are being made. The process behind the choice of airspace routing is based on a risk assessment; both by a country’s national aviation security services in the advice that they give to their airlines, and by the airline in how they assess this advice. This risk assessment approach can give an illusion of safety but it is in fact vulnerable to all sorts of influences including commercial pressure and so it is not surprising to us that there are differences in the way that this risk is assessed by different airlines.

“That is not good enough. Passengers and pilots want a uniform level of safety, not one that is decided in secret.

“Whilst the ultimate responsibility of last week’s murders lies with the people who apparently directed a missile at a peaceful civil airliner, this should not prevent us looking at the failures that led to that outcome; failures that could easily be repeated in other areas of conflict.

“ICAO’s purpose should be to lead where national authorities cannot and it should have the tools to do that. The problem of the absence of a clear international co-ordination to avoid operations above eastern Ukraine has now become tragically obvious and to avoid a repeat ICAO should be better resourced and enabled to declare airspace unsafe.

“ICAO also needs to reflect on its own rules of membership. Participating states enjoy privileges such as free movement, but with that comes responsibility. If a state does not live up to that responsibility, such as sharing of information and allowing full and free access to accident investigation, then membership and privileges should be reconsidered.”

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US issues ban on Ben Gurion International Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:36:34 +0000 More ››]]> US airlines have been banned from flying to or from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport for a period of up to 24 hours.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued the order in response to a rocket strike which landed approximately one mile from Ben Gurion International Airport on the morning of July 22.  The NOTAM applies only to US operators, and has no authority over foreign airlines operating to or from the airport.

The FAA immediately notified U.S. carriers when the agency learned of the rocket strike and informed them that the agency was finalizing a NOTAM.

The FAA will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation. Updated instructions will be provided to U.S. airlines as soon as conditions permit, but no later than  24 hours from the time the NOTAM went into force.

Earlier this week, the US restricted its commercial aircraft from flying over North Korea and adjacent airspace, citing the risk of ballistic missiles launched without warning.

North Korea was one of six countries that the Federal Aviation Administration listed as dangerous regions following the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 on July 17. The five other countries are Ethiopia, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Ukraine.

“FAA prohibits US flights from entering airspace over Pyongyang west of 132 degrees east longitude,” it said. “An advisory warns that North Korea is known for testing ballistic missiles without any warning. As recently as March, North Korea test-fired two missiles into the Sea of Japan.”

The FAA is also advising operators of US registered aircraft that Kenya has become a potentially hostile region.

The July 18 advisory states that “recent, credible information indicates a potential near-term terrorist attack against US and Western interests in Kenya,” warning against attacks using shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles.

It said that while specific details are not available, one possible tactic would be an attack using man-portable air defence systems such as the November 2002 attack on an Israeli aircraft departing from Mombasa, Kenya.

It added that aircraft that cross into Ethiopian airspace while taking off or landing at Mandera Airstrip in Kenya may be fired upon by Ethiopian forces. Mandera is located in the extreme northeastern corner of Kenya, adjacent to Ethiopia and Somalia.

“Operators considering flights to northeastern Kenya should familiarise themselves with the current situation,” said the FAA.

The FAA last week said that it had been in discussion with US carriers following the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 and confirmed that carriers have voluntarily agreed not operate in the airspace near the Russian-Ukraine border. “The FAA is monitoring the situation to determine whether further guidance is necessary,” it said.

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Harris to supply Port-Au-Prince Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:40:05 +0000 More ››]]> Harris Corporation has been selected to supply critical air traffic control (ATC) communications to the Area Control Centre (ACC) at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-Au-Prince Haiti.

Through its partner Air Mobile Ministries, Harris will provide its Liberty-STAR Voice Communication and Control System (VCCS), Liberty-MET Weather System, a 48-port digital voice recorder and GPS Time Source.  In addition to the voice communication system, Harris also will supply operational ATC radios, antennas, accessories and a microwave link to a remote mountain radio site.  Toussaint Louverture International Airport is being rebuilt following the country’s 2010 earthquake.

Under a previous contract, Harris supplied emergency back-up ATC radios to replace failing radios the airport was forced to use on an operational basis.

Liberty-STAR VCCS features a modular architecture, open-platform software and commercial-off-the-shelf hardware that delivers a reliable, scalable communications solution for ATC towers, airline and area control dispatch, flight service stations, and mobile shelters.  The system will be equipped with touch-screen operator positions, radio interfaces, telephone interfaces, and a System Maintenance, Administration and Reconfiguration Terminal (SMART) POSITION™.  Harris will install the systems and provide operation and maintenance training for the air traffic controllers and technical staff.

“I have flown critical life-saving missions into Haiti for 35 years.  It has long been a goal of mine to help Haiti obtain the finest ATC Equipment in the world,” said Joe Hurston, founder and president of Air Mobile Ministries.  “Collaborating with Harris has turned that goal into reality.”

“Harris is fully committed to ensuring a safe, secure and efficient ACC is reestablished for the people of Haiti,” said Carl D’Alessandro, vice president and general manager, civil programmes, Harris Government Communications Systems.  “Rebuilding the economy will ultimately depend on the success and stability of the airport, and providing a reliable mission-critical communications solution is a step in that direction.”

Harris has extensive experience developing mission-critical solutions that support civil and military air traffic control operations worldwide, including more than 200 customers in more than 50 countries.  Harris has supplied communications systems for a wide range of countries in the Caribbean region, including the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Barbados, Aruba, Bahamas and the Turks & Caicos.

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