The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency are at odds over the use and safety of the Simferopol Flight Information Region (FIR), after EASA lifted the avoidance recommendation for two airways.
On February 17, 2015, EASA issued a Safety Information Bulletin, inviting airlines to consider the use of air traffic services (ATS) routes L851 and M856 when planning flights within the Simferopol FIR. This FIR covers the airspace over the Crimea peninsula and part of the Black Sea. Ukraine is the only internationally recognised State for providing ATS within Simferopol FIR and for publishing aeronautical information concerning Simferopol FIR, according to the bulletin.
On February 19, the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency responded with a press release in which it claims responsibility for the ATS services in the Simferopol FIR. The agency states EASA’s decision was politically motivated and “poses a threat to aviation safety in the region.” According to Russian authorities EASA’s statement is contrary to ICAO’s decision to convene a special ICAO Task Force on the Black Sea in order to develop a coordination mechanism in order to find operational and technical solutions that contribute to the resumption of normal and safe operation civil flight operations in the airspace.
The internationally recognised Ukrainian territory of Crimea was annexed by the Russian Federation on 18 March 2014. Since that time the territory is administered by Russia.
While Ukraine was still claiming resposiblity for the airspace, the Russian Federation issued a series of notices to airmen (NOTAMs) modifying the Simferopol FIR and began providing air traffic services (ATS) within this airspace. With two ATS providers claiming responsibility, an unsafe situation existed.
This led EASA to issue a Safety Information Bulletin on April 3, 2014 in which EASA, ICAO and EUROCONTROL strongly recommended airspace users to avoid the airspace and circumnavigate the Simferopol FIR using available alternative routings. The U.S. FAA also issued a rule, prohibiting certain flights in the Simferopol FIR.
In August 2015 the State Aviation Administration of Ukraine began offering four ATS routes. EASA then reviewed the safety case provided by Ukraine for this proposal for ATS routes availability and other relevant information. Based on this review, EASA proposed to consider a phased approach to the utilisation of the airspace in Simferopol FIR by starting with ATS routes L851 and M856.
- EASA SIB
- FAVT Press release
- Current (19 Feb 2016) FAA SFAR 113 for Ukraine
- Ukrainian State Air Traffic Services Enterprise (UkSATSE) statement