FAA Prohibits U.S. Carriers from Operating Over Crimea

The agency published a rule April 25 that took effect immediately, barring flight operations by U.S. air carriers in a portion of the Simferopol (UKFV) Flight Information Region, where Ukraine and the Russian Federation have issued conflicting NOTAMs.

The Federal Aviation Administration has prohibited U.S. carriers from carrying out flight operations in a portion of the Simferopol (UKFV) Flight Information Region where air traffic control services are being disputed by Ukraine and the Russian Federation. FAA's immediately effective rule applies to all U.S. air carriers; U.S. commercial operators; persons exercising the privileges of a U.S. airman certificate except when they are operating a U.S.-registered aircraft for a foreign air carrier; and operators of U.S.-registered civil aircraft except when they are foreign air carriers.

This action follows a letter this month from ICAO's regional director for Europe and the North Atlantic Regions to countries and their civil aviation authorities that said the dispute may pose serious risks to the safety of international civil flights.

The Russian Federation caused the dispute when, on March 28, 2014, it issued a Notice-to-Airmen (NOTAM) creating a new FIR effective April 3, 2014, "in a significant portion of the Simferopol (UKFV) FIR. The affected airspace includes sovereign Ukrainian airspace over the Crimean Peninsula and the associated Ukrainian territorial sea, as well as international airspace managed by Ukraine over the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov under a regional air navigation agreement approved by the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). This action by the Russian Federation contradicts international law, including provisions of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, done at Chicago, December 7, 1944 (also known as the 'Chicago Convention') and the standards established in Annex 11 to the Chicago Convention. Ukraine has rejected the Russian Federation's purported establishment of a new FIR within the existing Simferopol (UKFV) FIR and continues to provide air traffic control services in both Ukrainian territorial airspace and international airspace assigned to Ukraine," FAA's rule states.

"In response to the Russian Federation's actions, Ukraine established a prohibited area over the Crimean Peninsula for flight operations below flight level 290 by means of a NOTAM and closed various air traffic services (ATS) route segments. The Russian Federation further responded by the issuance of a NOTAM that rejected and directly conflicts with Ukrainian NOTAMs concerning the establishment of the prohibited area and the route segment closures," it states.

FAA states that it issued the rule because civil aircraft could receive conflicting air traffic control instructions from both Ukrainian and Russian ATS providers while operating in the portion of the Simferopol (UKFV) FIR, so operations there are not safe. "In addition, political and military tension between Ukraine and the Russian Federation remains high, and compliance with air traffic control instructions issued by the authorities of one country could result in a civil aircraft being misidentified as a threat and intercepted or otherwise engaged by air defense forces of the other country."

It remains in effect through April 27, 2015.

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