by Gregory Polek
A 30-year disruption to air traffic control services for the airspace over Somalia and the surrounding region will end at one minute past midnight on January 26 with the reclassification of the Mogadishu Flight Information Region from Class G (uncontrolled) to Class A.
Some of the region’s busiest airways traverse Somalian airspace, including those linking the African subcontinent south of Ethiopia with the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent as well as Western Europe with the Indian subcontinent and Indian Ocean islands—traverse Somalian airspace. The Mogadishu Flight Information Region (FIR) covers the landmass surrounding the Horn of Africa and extends into the Indian Ocean.
The installation and commissioning of modern radio navigation and other technology infrastructure allowed for the reclassification and operational resumption of air traffic control in the Mogadishu FIR. The move follows a successful trial that began last May.
In a statement released Wednesday, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the safety and efficiency benefits that the reclassification brings.
“This is thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Somalia Airspace Special Coordination Team, comprising the Somali CAA, IATA, the International Civil Aviation Organization, adjacent FIRs, and airlines,” said IATA regional vice president for the Middle East and Africa Kamil Al-Awadhi. “The upgrade of air traffic management and improved navigation and communication infrastructure will enhance situational awareness along an increasingly busy air corridor and its intersections with routes linking many of the world’s regions.”
Air traffic control must clear all flights operating in Class A airspace in the Mogadishu FIR, which covers the base altitude of 24,500 feet AMSL. Several countries’ civil aviation authorities, including the U.S. FAA, prohibit their carriers from flying below Flight Level 260 over Somalia due to risk from anti-aviation weaponry and armed conflicts.