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Dyami REBASE - October - November 2023


 
 

Executive Summary The last few months showed a significant and concerning increase in conflicts all across the globe causing many overflight and landing and departing risks that should be well monitored. Timely analysis and accurate information regarding new threats are necessary for planning ahead and taking precautionary measures. There are several new threats which pose potential risks for business aviation around the world. A rise in fake bomb threats has caused many delays and disruptions at airports. Over several countries in the Middle East, GPS spoofing is affecting aircraft ranging from business jets to 777s, potentially leading to serious incidents. Conflict is brewing in the Southern Caucasus, with Azerbaijan potentially not being satisfied after claiming the Nagorno-Karabakh. India is developing into a new hub for the trafficking of valuable items such as wildlife and gold.


1. Global

1.1. GPS Spoofing

The frequency and intensity of GPS spoofing incidents is on a rise. For now mostly found over Iraq, but it can be replicated all over the world. GPS spoofing has been shown to put aircraft upwards of 200 nm off of their flight path.


1.2. Drug trafficking

Business model jets have been and continue to be used for drug/contraband smuggling across the globe. These flights are usually to and from Latin America, Ethiopia and India. The aim of using business jets instead of commercial aviation is to lower the chance of getting caught, and increase the volume per flight.


1.3. Human trafficking

In order to improve the ease of human trafficking, and to stay away from prying eyes of airport security as well as cabin crew, traffickers prefer to use business jets if they can. This presents a worldwide challenge that is hard to combat.


1.4. Valuables trafficking

Ethiopia and India have become hubs for trafficking of valuables, such as wildlife and gold. While the majority of the detected smuggling was on commercial flights, there has been an increase in (attempts to) smuggle with business jets via smaller regional airports.


2. Europe

2.1. Climate activism

European airports are still targeted by climate activists who are mainly focusing on the business aviation sector. Besides physical damage, the protests result in disruptions and closures of airports, forcing jets to divert elsewhere.


2.2 Drugs smuggling

At Amsterdam Schiphol airport seven employees have been arrested for their involvement in the smuggling of drugs at the airport and in the belly of aircraft.

2.3 Airport threats

In the month October multiple bomb threats occurred in airports in multiple countries in Europe. The threats were made by sending emails to authorities. Most airports were evacuated as a result from the threat causing long delays and disruptions at the airports.


2.4 Overflight risks

Due to Russian military fighter jets present, overflying the Black sea should be avoided. The Barents Sea. where Russia has been holding several nuclear missile tests and should also be avoided.


3. Middle East


3.1. GPS spoofing

GPS spoofing has been increasing in multiple countries in the Middle east creating dangerous situations where aircraft near unsafe territory.


3.2. Overflight Risks

Recent developments in the region have caused a need for extra security measures differing per country. These are important to adhere to, as ignoring the risks while overflying can lead to catastrophic results.


3.3 Israel- Hamas war

On October 7th Hamas militants launched an assault on Israel from the Gaza strip, killing 1.200 people and taking more than 200 hostages. Since then the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has struck back by starting a war between Hamas and Israel. The war in Israel has caused several airspace restrictions due to anti-aircraft weapons being used from multiple countries. Flying over ISRAELI airspace should be avoided. In Egypt, aircraft operators need to have caution flying over the Northern Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea due to anti aircraft weaponry being used. Flying below FL260 should be avoided. The vast majority of Yemeni airspace should also be avoided. In the southwestern part of Saudi Arabia FIR operators should also exercise caution due to a risk of drone and missile attacks.


4. Asia

4.1. New Zealand pilot hostage in Papua

On February 7, independence fighters from West-Papua took a pilot from New Zealand hostage in exchange for independence from Indonesia. In May a video message appeared in which the pilot said that if demands are not met within two months, he will be executed. Several rescue attempts have failed, resulting in casualties on both sides, and the demands of the hostage takers were lowered. As of September, a rebel spokesperson admitted there has been no contact for three months, and since then no updates have been released on the situation.


4.2 Caucasus tensions

Tensions on the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia are still prevalent after the military operations performed on September 19 by the Azeri authorities. While further peace talks are underway between the two countries, significant progress has not been reported. However, both leaders have stated that a peace deal is possible before the end of the year. Overflying the Armenia Azerbaijan border area should still be avoided at the moment. Overflying Georgia using waypoints DISKA and ADEKI is preferable, as BARAD skims the border of both nations. Both nations have long range air defense systems with ranges up to and exceeding 100 km in radius, and up to 30 km in altitude.


4.3. Regional instability

Political instability has led to recurring protests and (armed) attacks, particularly in northern India, Pakistan, Myanmar and the border region of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Instabilities prove themselves risky to aviation, including business aviation. The instability in northern India poses a serious risk to aircraft on the ground, while the unrest in Pakistan and Myanmar introduce threats to overflight as well. As a result of proliferation of anti-air weapons, a minimum of FL300 is advised.

4.4 Increase in drug smuggling

Drug smuggling through South Korea's Incheon International airport has increased. The amount of narcotics intercepted has risen from 129,362 grams in 2020 to 538,241 grams in 2022. Highlighting the need for stronger border enforcement.


4.5 Airport bomb threats

On october 4th, 42 airports across the Philippines were ordered to step up their security by authorities over an anonymous email threat saying that aircraft flying out of Manila to several tourist destinations could explode. Despite this threat operations remained normal and there were minimal flight delays.

5. Africa

5.1. Overflight risks

Recent developments in the region have caused a need for extra security measures differing per country. These are important to adhere to, as ignoring the risks while overflying can lead to catastrophic results.


5.2. Political instability

Political instability has resulted in unpredictable protests and revolts throughout Africa. It is important to stay up-to-date with the latest developments to minimize the risk of getting caught in armed violence while staying in a vulnerable African country or region.


6. North America

6.1. Trafficking

Over the last two months, cartels and other criminal organizations have continued to use private aircraft to smuggle narcotics and for human trafficking. The lack of security for private flights, especially at smaller regional airports, makes it easier for traffickers.


7. South America

7.1. Trafficking

Cartels continue to use private aircraft for drug trafficking throughout the continent. Criminal organizations use old aircraft for these flights because a large number of aircraft are destroyed after only a small number of trafficking flights.


7.2 Regional instability

Tensions between Venezuela and Guyana have been rising. Venezuelans just voted yes in a questionable referendum to claim part of the Essequibo region currenty belonging to Guyana as their own. Actions that the Venezuelan government might undertake to physically claim the region are not yet known.


8. Oceania

There were no significant events in Oceania in the months of October and November.


Forecast The months of October 2023 and November 2023 have seen a significant rise in conflicts and tensions, with the war in Israel that started on October 7th and rising tensions between Venezuela and Guyana. The situation in Africa is also worsening. There are a lot of overflight risks and do not fly zones in the Middle East and Africa but also still in the Caucasus region due to these tensions. The threat of GPS spoofing in aviation is also still growing, affecting even more regions, which is both a security and safety risk, and will increasingly become so as more and more modern aircraft rely solely on GPS for their navigation. GPS spoofing can cause aircraft to drift into unfriendly skies , or into the path of other traffic. Mitigating spoofing means returning to rudimentary means of navigation, although multiple manufacturers have found and shared methods to defeat GPS spoofing.


1. Global

1.1. GPS Spoofing

GPS spoofing is a growing trend facing the aviation sector. GPS spoofing is more dangerous than jamming, as most civilian aircraft are not equipped and/or capable of detecting GPS spoofing. This can result in extremely dangerous situations, where aircraft stray from their flightpath without realizing, causing the aircraft to deviate up to 200 nm. This can lead to a multitude of consequences; from straying into the path of other (oncoming) traffic to, in a worst-case scenario, crossing into unfriendly skies, resulting in an intercept or even shootdown. Aircraft ranging from Falcon 8x to Boeing 777s have been affected by GPS spoofing.


1.2. Drug trafficking

Drug trafficking is still a present risk for business aviation. For organized crime groups and cartels, business aviation is often the preferred method of transportation. There are numerous cases of drugs, or other valuable goods such as wildlife and gold, trafficked by cabin and flight crew on commercial flights. It is possible that cabin or flight crew on private jets could also smuggle illegal goods, emphasizing the need to be vigilant.


Throughout Latin America, cartels have continued to use business jets to smuggle large amounts of narcotics over long distances. These jets are often acquired in the United States and then destroyed after a single or very few flights to avoid detection. It is important to clearly identify when asked to minimize the risk of misidentification by law enforcement and/or the military. India also has become a major market for both drugs demand and supply side. The drugs in India are mainly coming from Pakistan, Myanmar, Nepal, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda and sometimes via Dubai or Sharjah. The central government has been urged to tighten up border security.


1.3. Human trafficking

With human trafficking still being a major issue today, the involvement of business aircraft is to be expected. In commercial aviation steps have been and are still being made to improve the awareness and the prevention of human trafficking. While most of these measures have generally been effective for commercial aviation, it could push human traffickers into finding other solutions.


One of these solutions for human traffickers is business/private aviation. If a trafficking organization can overcome the increased costs of using business aviation, it allows for flights to smaller airports with less experienced and limited security compared to larger commercial airports. Additionally, it is easier to bribe or blackmail security personnel to turn a blind eye to human trafficking, especially in unstable countries or regions.

2. Europe

2.1. Climate activism

European airports are still targeted by climate activists who are mainly focusing on the business aviation sector and calling for the sector to become more sustainable. One of the groups active at Dutch airport Maastricht Aachen is Extinction Rebellion, having had multiple protests in the past months. Extinction Rebellion has said to continue their protests at Maastricht Aachen airport until the airport will have a policy that concerns the liveable earth in the future. Besides physical damage, the protests result in disruptions and closures of airports, forcing aircraft to divert elsewhere.


2.2 Drugs smuggling

At Amsterdam Schiphol airport seven employees have been arrested for their involvement in the smuggling of drugs at the airport. They are suspected for bringing narcotics and drugs in the airport and in some cases also in the cargo hold of the aircraft. The aircrafts were headed towards Asia where tens of kilo’s have been intercepted.

2.3 Airport threats

In the month October especially in the week of the 16th there have been multiple bomb threats in airports in multiple countries in Europe. In Italy an airport was evacuated due to an alleged bomb threat suspending multiple inbound and outbound flights on Oct the 17th. On October the 18th 6 airports in France were evacuated after being emailed over ‘threats of attack’. Multiple reports of forgotten luggage were made. That same day Belgian Ostend Airport was evacuated due to a bomb threat reportedly via a threatening email. German airport Weeze also encountered a bomb threat on Oct 18th which turned out to be false. The day after on the 19th another 14 airports in France received bomb threats of which 8 were evacuated. The whole airport was evacuated. In the German airport of Hamburg a hostage situation took place on the tarmac beneath a Turkish Airlines aircraft. The man holding his daughter hostage for 18 hours was able to breach security carrying a firearm and throwing burning bottles.


2.4 Overflight risks

Putin has ordered Russian planes armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles to patrol over the Black Sea. In October three British military aircraft were joined by two Russian Su-27 fighter jets steering them off the Russian border. There is a high risk of GPS interference overflying the Black Sea Simferopol FIR, Rostov FIR and Odessa FIR going over the black sea should be avoided with a buffer zone of 200 NM. Overflying the Barents sea is also unsafe due to Russian nuclear-powered missile tests being held in that area.


3. Middle East

3.1. GPS spoofing

GPS spoofing is still increasing with more and more incidents reported in the Middle east. In October reports from spoofing in Egypt, the eastern mediterranean, Jordan and on approach to Ammam were reported. Israel is also reportedly using GPS spoofing to protect its aircraft. Flights from Ben Gurion are being led towards Lebanon with spoofed signals and false positions that showed aircraft above Ben Gurion airport when they were more than 212 nm away from the area.

This brings both safety as well as security risks, as GPS spoofing can without warning deviate an aircraft (reported up to 80 nm, but theoretically endlessly) from its intended flight path. This can bring aircraft into the flight path of other (oncoming) aircraft, or even worse, bring the aircraft into unsafe airspace. This could lead to an aircraft being intercepted, or even shot down. GPS spoofing will in most civilian aircraft not produce a warning, as the computer still receives a strong and clear GPS signal, albeit an incorrect one. GPS spoofing effects have for now been stopped by pilots who were lucky enough to see the moment their GPS jumped location when the spoofing started. In case of GPS spoofing, for now only dead reckoning or radar vectors can provide a navigational alternative. This is because within minutes, GPS spoofing will make the INS faulty on modern aircraft.


3.2. Overflight Risks

Developments in the region have caused a need for extra security measures. These include an advised minimum flight level of 320 over Iraq, with a focus on northern Iraq. Additionally, GPS interference is to be expected when overflying the country as well as over Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, the Eastern Mediterranean, Israel and Turkey. The airspace above Iran, Afghanistan (except for P500/G500), Yemen and Syria is still unsafe for Western aviation. Overflying Saudi Arabia is safe, as long as flying above FL260.


3.3. Israel Hamas war

On October 7th Hamas militants launched an assault on Israel from the Gaza strip, killing more than 1.200 people and taking more than 200 hostages. Since then the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has struck back by starting a war between Hamas and Israel. In the second half of November a ceasefire agreement with Hamas was made to provide aid and free hostages. The US, Israel and Qatar have met on several occasions to discuss the continuation of the ceasefire. The IDF declared that the campaign on Hamas will be continued and that the war will not be over for the upcoming months. The war in Israel has caused several airspace restrictions due to anti-aircraft weapons being used from multiple countries. In Egypt aircraft operators need to have caution flying over the Northern Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea due to anti aircraft weaponry being used. Flying below FL260 should be avoided. The vast majority of Yemeni airspace should also be avoided. In the southwestern part of Saudi Arabia FIR operators should also exercise caution due to a risk of drone and missile attacks.


4. Asia

4.1. Pilot held hostage in West Papua (Indonesia)

The pilot taken hostage in West Papua to demand independence is still being held by his captors. Since the capture on February 7, the hostage takers have freed the passengers and lowered demands. Negotiations have stranded numerous times and several rescue attempts failed, resulting in casualties on both sides. The indepence fighters have threatened to kill the pilot if demands, which are not publicly known, are not met and have published several videos of the pilot in captivity. On July 20, a senior official of the Indonesian military said that negotiation attempts are still ongoing and that the pilot is alive and healthy. As of September a rebel spokesperson admitted there has been no contact for three months, and since then no updates have been released on the situation.


4.2. Caucasus tensions

Tensions remain between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This still lingers from the military operation conducted by the latter in September, and the conflict ridden history preceding between the two countries. While both parties are communicating about a peace deal, the slightest upsets or developments cause mostly Azerbaijan to delay talks. Azerbaijan also accuses France of supporting the possibility of a war between the Caucasus neighbors, by delivering arms to (purchased by) Armenia. Due to the (anti-)air capabilities of both countries and the high tensions remaining in the region, the advice for now is to completely avoid the Armenia-Azerbaijan border area, as well as southern Armenia. Crossing east-west should be done over Georgia instead, using waypoints ADEKI or DISKA.


4.3. Regional instability

Political instability has led to recurring protests and (armed) attacks, particularly in northern India, Pakistan, Myanmar and the border region of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Instabilities prove themselves risky to aviation, including business aviation. The instability in northern India poses a serious risk to aircraft on the ground, while the unrest in Pakistan and Myanmar introduce threats to overflight as well. As a result of proliferation of anti-air weapons, a minimum of FL300 is advised.


4.4 Increase in drug smuggling

Drug smuggling through South Korea's Incheon International airport has increased. The amount of narcotics intercepted has risen from 129,362 grams in 2020 to 538,241 grams in 2022. Highlighting the need for stronger border enforcement. Airline crew also take part in the smuggling of drugs as there is a concerning trend in Vietnamese cabin crew being involved in the drug trafficking previously also having been caught at Incheon Airport in September.


4.5 Bomb threats

On october 4th, 42 airports across the Philippines were ordered to step up their security by authorities over an anonymous email threat saying that aircraft flying out of Manila to several tourist destinations could explode. Despite the alert airlines continued to operate as normal causing no delays. The threat received by air traffic services who also received the anonymous email concerned flights from Manila to Davao, Bicol, Palawan and Cebu stating that they will be hit.


5. Africa

5.1. Overflight risks

Overflying Africa has risks, which differ per country. Libya and Sudan are the only countries with a do not fly advisory while most other countries can be overflown by sticking to a security advisory.

  • Egypt: advice to fly above flight level 300 over the Sinai region due to terrorist organizations in possession of anti-air weapons

  • Ethiopia: the Tigray region remains unstable even though an official peace deal was signed in November. The advice is to avoid overflying the region because of the presence of anti-air systems.

  • Somalia: advisory to not overfly the country below flight level 300 because of the instability in the country in combination with the presence of anti-air systems.

  • Kenya: the border region has an overspill effect of the civil war in Somalia, thus posing the same threat as in Somalia itself. The advisory is to not fly below flight level 300.

  • Mali: militants are in possession of anti-air systems and thus the advice is to not fly below flight level 300 over the country.

  • Niger: as a result of the political instability, the advice is to avoid flying over Niger

  • Western Sahara: due to the conflict in the region between Morocco and the independence movement in the region, there is a risk of proliferation of anti-air weapons. The advice is to stick to a flight level of 250 AGL or more.

  • Libya: Libyan airspace should be avoided due to the threat of misidentification from Libyan air defense systems and threats by militia to shoot down aircrafts.

  • Sudan: Sudan airspace should be avoided due to risks from anti aircraft weaponry

  • Central African Republic: Due to the situation on the ground landing in Central African Republic should be avoided

  • Rwanda: Due to growing conflict in Rwanda there is an increased risk for landing and departing including diversions near to the shared border with Congo.


5.2. Political instability

Political instability has resulted in unpredictable protests and revolts throughout Africa. The political violence in Sudan and Niger has led to serious security risks for aircraft on the ground and overflights. Tension between Democratic Republic Congo and Rwanda is also rising with increased military presence in the region. Political violence in Democratic Republic Congo is also on the rise with several attacks on election candidates for the national elections that will be held on December 20th. It is important to stay up-to-date with the latest developments to minimize the risk of getting caught in armed violence while staying in a vulnerable African country or region.

6. North America

6.1. Trafficking

Over the last two months, cartels and other criminal organizations have continued to use private aircraft to smuggle narcotics and for human trafficking. These organizations regularly use private flights to and from smaller regional airports in the south of the United States because of limited security. Airport personnel and/or the flight crew can be coerced or bribed into aiding the traffickers to further ease the smuggling.

7. South America

7.1. Trafficking

Cartels continue to use private aircraft, ranging from smaller Cessna to business jets, for drug trafficking throughout the continent. The criminal organizations use old aircraft for these flights because a large number of aircraft are destroyed after only a small number of trafficking flights. These aircraft also pose a risk during flight at low FLs/during departure and descent, as these flights are done without transponders or any form of communication.

When returning to your parked aircraft, make sure to check that no one has been on board/accessed cargo hatches to hide illicit goods. If illicit goods are found, take the stance of the local authorities into consideration, as some will imprison crews reporting such goods on their aircraft as the perpetrators.


7.2 Regional instability

Tensions between Venezuela and Guyana have been rising. The reason for this is the resource-rich Essequibo strip which lies in Guyana. Recently the government of Venezuela held a national referendum to vote on the establishment of a new Venezuelan state incorporating the entire Essequibo region in its territory. In a very questionable referendum, more than 95% of the voters approved the move to claim the Essequibo strip controlled by Guyana. For now it is unclear what the Venezuelan government is going to do to follow through with the claim . Brazil has responded to the situation by mobilizing troops towards its border with the countries, it is unclear however whether they will actually intervene if a war does break out between its neighbors.


 
REBASE October - November 2023
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