Ops Group issue Level 1 Ops Alert

Source: The Ops Group

Mon 0255 EDT

Key message to operators and flight crew:
  • LLBG/Tel Aviv is still busy – and it shouldn’t be.
  • Safe Airspace Risk – Israel Level 1 – Do Not Fly (Full warning text)
  • Civil Shootdown risk high: Lessons of MH17 and UIA752 need to be applied

Israel is now an active war zone, and we have raised the Safe Airspace warning to Level 1 - Do Not Fly. The Israeli cabinet officially declared war against Hamas on Sunday Oct 8th.

As such, all lessons learned regarding civil operations in conflict zones over the last nine years since MH17 need to be applied. The risk of a passenger aircraft becoming a casualty of this war is high.

In the nine years since MH17 was shot down, we have made many advances in recognizing Conflict Zone risk to civil aviation. It’s time to apply that understanding, and avoid another civil aircraft catastrophe.

Read the full OPSGROUP briefing 

The primary risk is not just the threat of missiles (hundreds are being directed at LLBG as this is being written) or anti-aircraft weaponry, but also complacency (or a false sense of security). For decades, we have seen sporadic conflict in Israel – even in quieter periods, rocket attacks on Israel are the norm. As such, operations to LLBG/Tel Aviv continued, and operators have become used to raised threat levels in Israel.

This situation is absolutely not routine.

In January 2020, OPSGROUP became concerned at the heightened risk in the Baghdad and Tehran FIR. Despite issuing an alert the previous day, we were unable to prevent the shootdown of Ukraine International UIA752 on January 8th, 2020. This morning, looking at the traffic levels in the Tel Aviv FIR, we feel the same sense of unease and concern.

Further risk comes from a multitude of factors from operating in a conflict zone: misidentification, debris from air defences, GPS spoofing, false EGPWS alerts (now common in Israeli airspace), and reduced route and diversion options in the event of an aircraft emergency.

Despite the elevated risk, no prohibitions or restrictions have been issued by any national aviation authority, the FAA, or EASA. One exception: the Russian FATA has restricted their operators to daylight ops only.

Read: OPSGROUP request for better guidance from authorities
Israel - civil aircraft shootdown risk is high