Thursday, November 26, 2009

Regarding FIR and Flight Safety

One of the ongoing disputes between Greece and Turkey is the fact that Turkey refuses to report its military flight activity in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR). It’s excuse is the fact that the Chicago convention considers state aircraft exempt from filing flight plans for military flights. Maybe we’ll explore this debate in depth in another article at some point. For now here are some thoughts and some related news on the matter.

First of all, the Chicago Convention which came into force in 1947 paved the way for countries to divide up airspace in FIR sectors for the purpose of adequately controlling air traffic and keeping air travel safe. Since then air travel and air traffic have evolved considerably. It has now become customary for military aircraft to file flight plans with other FIRs when carrying out flights there. Turkey maintains that this is not necessary.

So here is a piece of news not directly related to Greece or Turkey. RTL News Netherlands reports on the interception of a pair of Russian bombers which were flying through the Amsterdam FIR 75 km north of Ameland Island, well outside of Dutch airspace but within the Dutch FIR sector of responsibility. The Russian bombers had not submitted flight plans and failed to identify themselves. They were first intercepted by Danish Air Force fighters which then handed over the procedure to 2 Dutch fighters. Denmark and The Netherlands are both NATO countries and as such follow standard NATO procedures. What did they do when 2 unidentified and unannounced aircraft entered their areas of responsibility? They carried out interceptions. It’s a shame Greece’s NATO partners think that civilian air traffic over the Aegean does not deserve to fly in the same safety environment. Here is a recording of the interception process that took place.

So now we move on to some news from “En Kripto” blog according to which military flight activity in the Aegean has caused problems for civilian air traffic in the last two days. According to the report there were so many interceptions and dogfights between Greek and Turkish fighters in the area between Ikaria, Samos and Chios that the Athens Flight Control Centre had to delay the flights of civil aircraft as there was no free space available under 6,000 feet.

Other than that, the European Union will decide next month on how to get Turkey into the Union.

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