May 29, 2015

The FAA, citing “an unacceptable risk… resulting from terrorist and militant activity,” has issued a new notice to airmen (NOTAM) that tightens its flight restrictions over Somali airspace, prohibiting U.S. operators from flying below FL260 over the African nation.

“International civil air routes that transit Somali airspace and aircraft operating to and from Somali airports are at risk from terrorist and militant groups potentially employing anti-aircraft weapons, including Man-Portable Air Defense Systems, small-arms fire and indirect fire from mortars and rockets targeting airports,” FAA officials said.

The NOTAM, issued May 12, expands on existing restrictions, which prohibit overflights at altitudes below FL200.

The NOTAM applies to U.S. commercial operators, “all persons exercising the privileges of an airman certificate issued by the FAA,” and all operators of U.S.-registered aircraft except for foreign air carriers. The ban does not cover FAA-approved operations by U.S. government agencies.

The FAA warns in its latest update that the militant group al-Shabaab “is active in Somalia and has demonstrated the capability and intent to target U.S. and Western interests.”

Somalia remains under a U.S. Department of State travel warning recommending U.S. citizens “avoid all travel” to the African country.

View the full NOTAM. (PDF)