Nov. 25, 2014

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has joined the FAA in warning flight crews about the dangers of operating over the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, citing the possibility of violence in the northern portion of Egypt’s Sinai Desert. Like FAA’s Notice to Airmen, the EASA Safety Information Bulletin called the threat “a significant risk to aviation overflying the area at or below FL260.”

The EASA SIB mirrors the FAA NOTAM, stating, “Due to ongoing insurgent activity, operators of civil aircraft should be aware of the risk to flight operations safety in the North Sinai Governorate of Egypt… deriving from possible use of small arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and anti-aircraft fire, including shoulder-fired man-portable air defense systems. View the EASA SIB. (PDF)

EASA estimated the average number of daily flights from Europe into the affected area at 340.

“We are still working out how many of the 340 European overflights per day in the region are by business aircraft,” said Brian Humphries, president of the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA). “Indeed,” he added, “the estimates differ between EASA and Eurocontrol, which cites a rather lower exposure for all traffic, so we think our [business aviation’s] numbers are in single figures.”

Humphries said EBAA was notifying its members of the warning, but was confident that most that operate in the affected area are already aware of the situation.

“All of our commercial operators have SMS [safety management systems] in place, as required since last month by the National Aviation Authorities to retain their Air Operator’s Certificates. All conduct pre-flight risk assessments as part of trip planning,” Humphries said.

So far this year, EASA has issued SIBs about airspace and airport closures in Iraq, Syria and Libya. In July, it issued a warning about flying over parts of Ukraine after the downing of Malaysian Flight MH17. In most cases, the SIBs mirror FAA NOTAMs and flight restrictions covering conflict zones. Many of those FAA restrictions are mandatory. View the FAA’s NOTAM about the Sinai Peninsula. (PDF)

EASA’s Sinai warning, however, is a recommendation only. Still, according to the SIB, “EASA recommends all operators to take any available information into account in their risk assessments and routing decisions if planning to fly into, out of, within or over the North Sinai Governorate of Egypt and to monitor all relevant information, including NOTAMs.”