Wednesday, August 16, 2017

We’ve received some feedback from Gander since the NAT changes on 29MAY. Aircraft exiting the NAT westbound at an OEP/Oceanic Exit Point other than the one initially filed, should always route to the landfall point associated with the new clearance. Expect an onward clearance after that landfall point. Also, co-ordinates should be carefully cross checked in the FMS, the shorthand N5450 format can lead to Nav errors.

North Atlantic Changes

This coming Thursday, 29MAY, Gander Control will implement a number of changes in their airspace on the Canadian Seaboard that will affect the structure and design of NAT Tracks, and Oceanic Flight Planning with immediate effect.

Removal of the Fish Points


Introduction of Gander Oceanic Transition Area

Because of new ADS-B coverage in the area between Canada and Greenland, the boundary between Domestic and Oceanic airspace is being shifted around 175nm to the east, creating a new Oceanic Transition Area known as GOTA.

New NAT Track design – Eastbound

Currently, NAT Tracks have a anchor point and an Oceanic Entry Point (OEP) – like VIXUN LOGSU 49N50W. Starting 29MAY, the Track will be built using only an OEP and a 50W point – in this example JANJO 49N50W.

New NAT Track design – Westbound

A westbound NAT Track used to run 50W – Oceanic Exit Point – Landfall, for example 54N50W CARPE REDBY NAR123A. From 29MAY, there will be a 50W point and a dedicated Oceanic Exit Point, then straight into either FPL route or a NAR. Example, 53N50W RIKAL NAR302D.

New Oceanic Entry Points

With the removal of the Fish Points, and other long-known waypoints, a completely new list of Oceanic Entry Points (OEP’s) has been created by Gander. They start at AVPUT in the far north and run down to SUPRY. On our Planning Chart, they are highlighted in yellow.

Changed Blue Spruce Routes

The southern Blue Spruce Routes (for reduced Nav capability) now run as follows:




More information

Refer to Nav Canada AIC 20/14 for the full list, and for complete information about the change. Ask us for a free copy of our 2014 North Atlantic Planning Chart


What is a TSA Waiver?TSA_Waiver

For those familiar with international flight operations and the need for overflight and landing permits, the TSA Waiver can be viewed in much the same way. While it’s called a ‘waiver’, it is essentially an authorization given by the US Transport Security Administration allowing aircraft to operate to, or overfly and transit the United States and its territorial possessions. There are 6 different waivers however the one you are likely most interested in is the International Waiver.

What’s an International Waiver?

The International Waiver authorizes an aircraft operator to operate to/from, within and over the United States and its territorial possessions i.e. Guam, Marshall Islands, Puerto Rico, etc.

Do I need a TSA Waiver?

You might. It really all depends on your aircraft weight, where the aircraft is registered, and what you’re doing. Being a US Operator or having a N-Registered aircraft does not necessarily exempt you from the need of having a TSA Waiver.

Here’s a checklist to help you figure out if you need a TSA Waiver or not:

US Aircraft

US (N-Reg.)With a MTOW LESS than 100,309 lbs. or 45,499 kgs., that OVERFLY OR LAND in the United States or its Territorial Possessions, you DO NOT NEED a TSA Waiver.

With a MTOW GREATER than 100,309 lbs. or 45,499 kgs., that OVERFLY the United States or its Territorial Possessions without actually landing in the United States, you DO NEED a TSA Waiver.

With a MTOW GREATER than 100,309 lbs. or 45,499 kgs. that LAND in the United States or its Territorial Possessions, you DO NOT NEED a TSA Waiver.

Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, Cayman Island, Bermuda or British Virgin Island Registered Aircraft

Regardless of aircraft weight, if you are operating DIRECTLY TO the United States or its Territorial possessions, you DO NOT NEED a TSA Waiver.

Regardless of aircraft weight, if you OVERFLY or OPERATE WITHIN the United States or its Territorial Possessions, you DO NEED a TSA Waiver.

With a MTOW LESS than 100,309 lbs. or 45,499 kgs., that OVERFLY or operate WITHIN the United States or its Territorial Possessions, DO NOT NEED a TSA Waiver PROVIDED that the flight originated in AND is arriving in Mexico, Canada, Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, pr the British Virgin Islands.

With a MTOW LESS than 100,309 lbs. or 45,499 kgs., that OVERFLY the United States or its Territorial Possessions, DO NEED a TSA Waiver IF the flight DID NOT originate in AND arriving in Mexico, Canada, Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, or the British Virgin Islands.

Other Foreign Registered Aircraft

Regardless of MTOW, if operating DIRECTLY TO the United States or its Territorial Possessions, a TSA Waiver is NOT REQUIRED.

Regardless of MTOW, if OVERFLYING or operating WITHIN the United States or its Territorial Possessions, a TSA Waiver is REQUIRED

Mr.TIf you’re still confused, have some questions, or need assistance in obtaining your TSA Waiver, please feel free to contact us at


Effective April 2014 a significant number of changes will affect Airports and Airspace in the Crimean Peninsula.


What happened? Following the removal of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on 21 February, Russia moved to take control of Crimea, an autonomous republic that until now has been part of Ukraine. While the referendum that ceded authority is disputed internationally, Crimea is now under de facto control of Russia, creating a political standoff with Europe and the US that has led to a complicated airspace situation.


Simferopol FIR A large and significant FIR covering busy Black Sea routes, with a predominant east/west flow, with ATC service provided from Simferopol Airport.

  • Simferopol Airport A large airport in the centre of Crimea with International and Domestic Air Service, with TWR/APP
  • Sevastopol Airport A smaller civil, domestic airport beside the town of Sevastopol in the southwest of Crimea, with TWR.
  • Zavodskoe Airport Another smaller domestic airport beside Simferopol, with an AFIS Unit.
  • Kerch Airport Used only by general aviation, currently bankrupt


The Simferopol FIR is normally controlled from an Area Control Centre located at Simferopol Airport. It was closed on 13 March when Russia took control of facilities in the peninsula, and service for the FIR was provided using remote radar data by Ukrainian controllers from Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk.

At 10am on 3 April Simferopol ACC was reopened, managed by a new service provider called “Krymaeronavigatsiya”. The controllers in the centre are mostly the same controllers that operated Simferopol ACC for the Ukrainian National Authority.

To reactivate control of the airspace from Simferopol, Russia issued several NOTAMs on 28 March which were subsequently disputed by Ukraine and Eurocontrol. This has led to an unsafe situation leading to an ICAO letter and recommendation to avoid the Simferopol FIR until the situation is resolved.


URFB Sevastopol Belbek (was UKFB) URFF Simferopol (was UKFF) URFV Simferopol FIR/ACC (was URFV) * Issued by Russia, not (yet) recognised outside Russia.


Since the re-opening of Simferopol ACC on 03 APR, Eurocontrol has rejected FPL’s containing routings through the Simferopol FIR with the exception of the L851 airway.

Traffic operating through the Simferopol FIR on Friday 04APR reported issues with “Joint Authority”: B747 enroute Europe-ME: “Instruction from Bucharest ACC to contact Odessa on 134.675 On initial contact with them, they advised us to comply only to their instructions! Then Simferopol ACC calls on 121.5 and advised to switch on 120.4. Also they advised us to comply only to their instructions! Both performed radio check to see if the aircraft is still on frequencies Both provide instructions (position report), fortunately the same.” CL601 enroute LOWW/Vienna-URKK/Krasnodar

We were passed onto Odessa Radar and checked in with them. We were then told to maintain our altitude and also warned NOT to get in contact with Simferopol as it is not a legal ATC station. We were also given another frequency in case we lost comms with Odessa. We were contacted on 121.5, the emergency frequency by Simferopol advising us to contact them on their frequency numerous times. We decided as a crew to stay with Odessa. We were then passed onto Rostov control and continued the flight with no incident.


At present, there is effectively a stand off between Russia and Ukraine over recognition of who is the rightful Authority to manage the airspace over Crimea. Russia has determined that it is Simferopol ACC, and is providing full service for the airspace from the existing ATC Centre. Ukraine, through Eurocontrol, determined that it should continue to provide service from remote sites, and therefore asserts its authority over the airspace.

The result, is that two Authorities are both stating claim over what has become Disputed Airspace, in a very similar situation to that in Northern Cyprus. So, who is right? There is no correct answer. The political situation is complex at present, and it difficult to determine what the future will bring.

Purely on a practical analysis however, it can be said with relative certainty, that Crimea will remain under Russian control, and it is likely to be a matter of time before Russian managed operation of Simferopol ACC is accepted internationally, either on a safety case or a relaxing of political stance. Until such time, operation within the Simferopol FIR is operationally possible but carries with it the risks associated with Disputed Airspace.


What’s happening? Russia has claimed territorial control over Crimea, leading to the reopening of Simferopol ACC after a three week closure, and the same claim over airspace. Ukraine, under a new government, has defied the move, issuing its own NOTAMs to declare Russia’s move invalid.

Can we enter the Simferopol FIR? In short, Yes. The airspace is not closed. However, it’s probably not a good idea, if you can avoid it. Two countries have claimed authority over the running of ATC – Russia and Ukraine, and there is no clear winner. For some operators there will be no choice but to enter, so see below for advice.

Can I file a flight plan to enter the Simferopol FIR? Yes, if you’re outside Europe. However, any FPL filed within the IFPS Region (ie. Eurocontrol) will be rejected if it contains a routing through the Simferopol FIR.

What if we decide to enter the airspace? Are there any sanctions or restrictions? No, there aren’t any legal or diplomatic sanctions preventing this, only Flight Planning restrictions from Eurocontrol. On the first day that Simferopol ACC was open, 145 flights were handled through the FIR, primarily non-European operators. If you do enter, we recommend: • Two VHF sets – one on Simferopol frequency, one on Odesa or Dnipropetrovsk frequency • Contact and remain in contact with both controllers, as long as possible • Fly standard levels, do not request a level change • Monitor TCAS • Consider any instruction to change level or routing carefully, and coordinate with both ATC’s.

Is this is the same situation as Ercan (Cyprus)? Kind of. Since 1974 there has been Disputed Airspace over the northern part of Cyprus, and two stations vie for control of the airsapce – Ercan and Nicosia. However, there are a couple of important differences. First, ICAO has declared it’s recognition only of Nicosia, this is not the case in Crimea, where ICAO has only said it’s unsafe at present, so avoid. Second, there are clear instructions for crossing that airspace – for Crimea, at present, there are no procedures – again, only an advice to avoid.

Do I need a permit to enter Simferopol FIR? Not at present. Officially, Russia has declared the FIR to fall under the same rules as the rest of Russia, which means that a permit should be required to enter the airspace. However, there are two complicating factors. 1. A number of “Non-Sovereign routes” run through the Black Sea that Russia does not require a permit for (as the next sector is Rostov-on-Don airspace), requiring only advance notification to UUUWZDZX. Simferopol FIR would likely follow the same logic, though this has not been published.


The second factor is that the confusion at present is allowing leniency for overflight permits. However, if the situation is resolved with Russia being recognised as the sole controlling Authority, then flights over Crimean landmass will absolutely require a permit to overfly.

What about the Airports in Crimea? Is Simferopol open? Yes, Simferopol is open to civil traffic, and a permit is required from the Russian Authorities. The process follows the same procedure as in the rest of Russia, with local Crimean approval, and also Federal approval required. Sevastopol is lesser used in any case, but may be available.

Is there any security risk in overflying Crimea? No. The situation on the ground in Crimea is very stable, and there is no determined risk of any ground-air strikes or anything affecting security of flight.

Is there a safety risk in overflying Crimea, or entering the Simferopol FIR? At the moment, yes. There is a risk level, although relatively minimal, due to the potential for confusion as to the correct controlling authority. The risk is highest near the airspace boundaries with other Ukrainian sectors. There is likely to also be an increased volume of traffic speaking Russian and therefore reducing situational awareness for international crews overflying.

So, is Simferopol an “Illegal” ATC Station? No. Their authority is questioned by Europe, but they are fully trained, valid controllers, with ICAO recognised licenses. It’s worth remembering that although Simferopol is currently declared “illegal” by some adjacent sectors, they are the same controllers that were operating that airspace just three weeks ago, and have done so for decades. If you are in there, you should at least be talking to them, not least because they will have control of conflicting westbound Russian traffic that will not be in contact with other sectors.

What happens westbound from Russia? If you are entering Simferopol FIR from Rostov-na-Donu FIR, you will be transferred in a normal fashion to Simferopol ACC on the usual (historic) frequencies. Once approaching the boundary with Odessa or Dnipro you should make contact at least 10 minutes in advance.

Is there any co-ordination between Simferopol and Odesa, or Dnipropetrvosk ATC? We’re uncertain, but we believe flight information is being exchanged in terms of boundary estimates and OLDI interchange. However, verbal communications are not likely cooperative at the moment, given the disputed control of the airspace.

When will this be resolved? Hard to say, and the question that everyone is asking. The Ukraine NOTAMS are valid until 14APR, but that indicates little. A long term avoidance of the Simferopol FIR is unlikely due to commercial pressure. At a minimum, the airspace south of the landmass, ie. L850 and south, could be expected to be made available in the event of an ongoing standoff.

Transition to ICAO “Vertical Separation System” and RVSM on 17th November, 2011.

This is a big, significant change, to flying in Russia and the CIS. The AICʼs issued by the member states are particularly vague and uninformative, so hereʼs some plain English explanations that will hopefully help understanding of the change. If you have more questions, just ask us …


Russia     Mongolia     Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan     Tajikistan     Uzbekistan     Afghanistan.

Whatʼs Happening?

There are two things being brought in here: 1. RVSM, which is happening in all countries, and 2. Standard ICAO Flight Levels in feet, that we are used to in the rest of the world – which is happening everywhere except Mongolia.


One minute past midnight, UTC, on the 17th of November, 2011.


Standard meter separation at the moment is 600 meters above 8,900 meters. From Nov 17th, that will change to 300 meters – or 1,000 feet, up to FL410/FL411.

Flight Levels

At the moment, youʼll get a clearance from a Russian controller to “Climb Flight Level 8,900 meters”. You will jot this down, get out your conversion card, and run your finger down to 8,900 meters, to read off the Feet equivalent – FL 291. Dial 291 on the MCP, or fiddle with the FMS, and away you go. After the change, your new clearance will be “Climb Flight Level 290”. No different what youʼre used to at home now.

What Altitudes are Affected?

Above the transistion level, all levels will be FL, allocated in feet. Below the transition level, altitudes will be in meters, for example, 1850 metres, 1500 metres, etc.. This is how things work in Belarus at the moment, for example, if youʼve ever been to Minsk.


If youʼre flying on the night of 16th November, hereʼs what youʼll hear. 2300Z “Attention all aircraft, RVSM Operations will begin in 1 hour 2340Z “Attention all aircraft, RVSM Operations will begin at 0001 UTC” From 2300 only RVSM aircraft will be accepted in RVSM airspace (as opposed to sorting it all out at midnight Z)

Some Exceptions:

A sign of the times – Afghanistan is implementing RVSM but is keeping three levels for military aircraft only. FL300 and FL310 will only be available to MIL aircraft, as will FL350.


Mongolia thought about it, but didnʼt join in the change completely. Theyʼre just doing RVSM, so the Meter allocation scheme will change to 300 meter instead of 600 meter separation, but thatʼs it. ATC will issue the Flight Level clearance in meters. Pilots shall use the Mongolia RVSM FLAS Diagram (same as your existing China RVSM document) to determine the corresponding flight level in feet. The aircraft shall be flown using the flight level in FEET.

The request metric flight level within Mongolia RVSM airspace in Flight Plan shall be expressed as S followed by 4 figures (such as S1250, S1220 and S1190 represent 12500m, 12200m and 11900m respectively).

Eastbound Levels Example - ATC will say “KLM 802, Climb Flight Level 8,900 meters” - Feet equivalent is FL 291 per your on-board conversion table - Set FL 291 on your altimeter

Transition Zone

Because Mongolia is working in Meters and Russia will now work in feet, there will be a small altitude adjustment near the ACC boundary.

Each ACC will have a different arrangement, some will do the transition on the Russian side and some on the Mongolian side – but each will have a “Level Off Zone” – 5 minutes of level flight, before or after which the climb/descent will take place.

Example 1 Letʼs look briefly at position LETBI – the boundary between Ulaanbaatar ACC (Mongolia) and Irkustsk ACC (Russia). The transition zone here is on the Russian side.

An eastbound aircraft heading for Mongolia will be at FL370. Around 10 minutes prior to LETBI, the Russian controller will climb the aircraft to FL371 (11,300 meters) so that the aircraft is level at the new meter level for 5 minutes. Transfer of communications and control at LETBI will have the aircraft level at the correct meter level for Mongolia.

Example 2 A westbound aircraft along the same route, will maintain 11,600 meters (FL381). The Mongolian controllers will transfer comms and control at LETBI to the Russians.

“Irkustsk hello, KLM 801, maintaining Flight Level 11,600 meters” “KLM 801, Irkustsk, roger, maintain present level” 5 minutes AFTER position LETBI: “KLM 801, Irkustsk, descend Flight Level 360”

Russia RVSM 1

An outline map showing ATC Centres (ACC’s) affected by the change. Each coloured block is one ATC facility. Afghanistan is not shown but is implementing RVSM at FL320 and above.

Russia RVSM 2

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