flexo
Posts: 344
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2007 6:55 pm

Flying Across Africa - Is It Dangerous?

Thu Apr 16, 2009 8:11 pm

Looking at the flight routings from Europe to South Africa it is obvious that the aircraft will fly over some pretty unreliable countries. Maybe just prejudice on my end but is it safe to fly over most parts of Africa? Is ATC well organized there?
Do they even speak English everywhere?
And finally: Are there any precautions taken by Western airlines when they are flying over Africa?

Please don't flame me, just some innocent questions!  Smile
 
wilco737
Posts: 7279
Joined: Sun Jun 20, 2004 12:21 am

RE: Flying Across Africa - Is It Dangerous?

Thu Apr 16, 2009 8:15 pm



Quoting Flexo (Thread starter):
Please don't flame me, just some innocent questions! Smile

We won't.  Wink

Quoting Flexo (Thread starter):
Do they even speak English everywhere?

They know the english they need for the ATC (standard phrasiology) but that all. That doesn't count for every African country. Some are very good and some are pretty bad in English.

Quoting Flexo (Thread starter):
Are there any precautions taken by Western airlines when they are flying over Africa?

Yes, flying off track (up to 2NM right off track) and inflight broadcasting between the airplanes with position reports to let everybody know where you are and where the others are.

Quoting Flexo (Thread starter):
Is ATC well organized there?

Most countries (ATC stations) don't even talk to each other. So you need to contact them all one by one prior entering their airspace. Sometimes you cannot reach them due to distance of their antenna. So you just sometimes fly for a bit without being in contact with ATC. That's why the inflight broadcast procedure.

I hope that answers a couple of your questions.

wilco737
 
jetplaner
Posts: 125
Joined: Fri Mar 21, 2008 3:13 am

RE: Flying Across Africa - Is It Dangerous?

Thu Apr 16, 2009 8:29 pm

I know that a while ago, South Africa had bad relations between other African countries, so South African Airlines wasn't allowed to fly over them, thus the out of the way flight routings. I am not sure if this still occurs though.

-Jetplaner
 
flexo
Posts: 344
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2007 6:55 pm

RE: Flying Across Africa - Is It Dangerous?

Thu Apr 16, 2009 8:35 pm



Quoting WILCO737 (Reply 1):
Yes, flying off track (up to 2NM right off track)

Interesting, so you would intentionally fly 2nm right or left off the track assigned to you by ATC? Why is that?

Quoting WILCO737 (Reply 1):
inflight broadcasting between the airplanes with position reports to let everybody know where you are and where the others are.

What about local flights, do they comply with that as well? And do local pilots communicate in English with ATC?
 
wilco737
Posts: 7279
Joined: Sun Jun 20, 2004 12:21 am

RE: Flying Across Africa - Is It Dangerous?

Thu Apr 16, 2009 8:38 pm



Quoting Flexo (Reply 3):
Interesting, so you would intentionally fly 2nm right or left off the track assigned to you by ATC? Why is that?

Always right off track. Either 1 or 2 NM. ATC doesn't know about that. You just do it. They airways are wide enough to do that.
If I am at FL330 and flying eastbound and for whatever reason another traffic is as well at FL330 and flying westbound on the same airway and we both fly 2NM off track, then we are 4NM apart from each other - even at the same altitude. If we are on track then it can get pretty close.

Quoting Flexo (Reply 3):
What about local flights, do they comply with that as well? And do local pilots communicate in English with ATC?

Good question. Haven't been to africa for a couple of months and don't really recall now. I know that the South African ATC guys are very good in English and they all talk English.
In the other countries? Not really sure at the moment.

wilco737
 
411A
Posts: 1788
Joined: Mon Nov 12, 2001 10:34 am

RE: Flying Across Africa - Is It Dangerous?

Fri Apr 17, 2009 3:06 am

Flying over Africa?

Been doing so for years, no problems to date.
They have RVSM now, works good.
 
wilco737
Posts: 7279
Joined: Sun Jun 20, 2004 12:21 am

RE: Flying Across Africa - Is It Dangerous?

Fri Apr 17, 2009 5:21 am



Quoting 411A (Reply 5):
Been doing so for years, no problems to date.

Good for you. I had a couple weird situations and a collegue had a pretty nice view to a BA744 because they were at the same level opposite direction. No information by ATC because they simply didn't understand what our crew was asking.

wilco737
 
GST
Posts: 811
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2008 10:27 am

RE: Flying Across Africa - Is It Dangerous?

Fri Apr 17, 2009 7:49 am



Quoting WILCO737 (Reply 6):
a collegue had a pretty nice view to a BA744 because they were at the same level opposite direction.

Would that be a 2NM seperation or closer then? I have spoken to pilots with GA experience in some parts of africa with less than rosey things to say about ATC and other general av, but that is for a different altitude bracket and a different discussion.
 
wilco737
Posts: 7279
Joined: Sun Jun 20, 2004 12:21 am

RE: Flying Across Africa - Is It Dangerous?

Fri Apr 17, 2009 7:51 am



Quoting GST (Reply 7):
Would that be a 2NM seperation or closer then?

I don't know exactly how close they were, but our crew disengaged the autopilot and turned to the right to get further away from them.

wilco737
 
pilotaydin
Posts: 2099
Joined: Tue Sep 07, 2004 12:30 am

RE: Flying Across Africa - Is It Dangerous?

Fri Apr 17, 2009 7:58 am

Hello there, i will join wilco in answering some of these questions...

the airspace over Africa is a special type of airpace....
coverage of ATC stops somewhere south of the libya line, near benghazi, and then you're kinda on your own...you give out position reports on a specific designated frequency..
126.9 in this case...and you TRY to contact nearby ATC units and give them estimates of where and when...but usually it fails...they have what we call RELAY frequencies...for example down near Niger headed towards Nigeria, there is * incorrect spelling coming up* YEMMI control i think, they get relay from a local tower frequency, if you're lucky to catch them due to weather, line of sight etc....

As for the flying off track...well we are assigned into the airspace at a certain altitude, and we should maintain this, unless we can coordinate with somewhere for a climb or let down...the route offset feature was first used in the test process of RVSM airspace...China still uses it, even though they are RVSM on some airways/areas...
TCAS if your best friend in this airspace...now the issue is the ITCZ...wowza, Towering cumulus and t-storms at 60,000+ feet...sometimes you load up up to 5 tons more fuel to divert over 200 miles off route due to squal lines...

hope this helps...
flying in africa makes you forget how relaxed we have it in other airspace  Smile)

123.45 is always fun to listen to  Smile
The only time there is too much fuel onboard, is when you're on fire!

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