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BA 261 LHR-ISB strange route. 09/06

Posted: Sun Sep 06, 2020 11:26 pm
by Ammad
Flight path of British Airways September 5 London to Islamabad flight BA261 performed by Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner (aircraft registration G-ZBJH). The aircraft landed in Islamabad at 11:39 AM with a delay of more than two hours. It was scheduled to arrive in Islamabad at 9:20 AM. The aircraft departed from London at 10:03 PM. It was scheduled to depart at 9:30 PM. Flight completed in nine hours & thirty-six minutes. British Airways Boeing 787 usually completes London to Islamabad flight BA261 in about seven hours & ten minutes.

https://flightaware.com/live/flight/BAW ... /EGLL/OPIS

Return flight landed with the delay of approx 4 hours.
https://flightaware.com/live/flight/BAW ... /OPIS/EGLL


Any idea why BA took this strange route?

Sourece: https://historyofpia.com/forums/viewtop ... =1&t=29030

Re: BA 261 LHR-ISB strange route. 09/06

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2020 12:29 am
by Ordie
Russian Air Force has been aggressively intercepting US military aircraft near Eastern Ukraine/ Crimea/ Black Sea areas. Best to avoid these areas.

Re: BA 261 LHR-ISB strange route. 09/06

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2020 12:39 am
by Thenoflyzone
Most likely to avoid Afghani airspace on that particular flight, due to a missed slot time to enter Kabul FIR. Kabul still uses procedural control (50 nm longitudinal separation on the same airway, same altitude, from what i've read on the matter. A few years ago, it used to be 80 nm separation)

If they didn’t get approval to go though Kabul FIR in time, or missed their slot time, the route to/from Europe can lengthen significantly, considering most Western airlines already avoid Iran, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, etc.

Not many options left.

Re: BA 261 LHR-ISB strange route. 09/06

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2020 1:36 am
by eamondzhang
Ordie wrote:
Russian Air Force has been aggressively intercepting US military aircraft near Eastern Ukraine/ Crimea/ Black Sea areas. Best to avoid these areas.

But then try and expain BA142's flight path which is flying over Black Sea as I type this right now?

Sounds much more plasuable that they missed Kabul FIR's slot time - although I will not rule out specific events on specific days

Edit: BA142 also flew over Black Sea on 5th and 6th apparently

Michael

Re: BA 261 LHR-ISB strange route. 09/06

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2020 4:56 am
by atcsundevil
Thenoflyzone wrote:
Kabul still uses procedural control (50 nm longitudinal separation on the same airway, same altitude, from what i've read on the matter. A few years ago, it used to be 80 nm separation)

Ay caramba. Presumably it's mostly nonradar then? If they have radar and they're using 50nm separation, they're doing it wrong. Requiring rigid overflight slot times certainly complicates transiting an already precarious part of the world.

Re: BA 261 LHR-ISB strange route. 09/06

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2020 5:22 am
by LH658
didn't know about the Kabul airspace part, interesting to know. Glad to see ISB is increased to 5 times a week and soon daily.

Re: BA 261 LHR-ISB strange route. 09/06

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2020 5:40 am
by Antarius
Thenoflyzone wrote:
Most likely to avoid Afghani airspace on that particular flight, due to a missed slot time to enter Kabul FIR. Kabul still uses procedural control (50 nm longitudinal separation on the same airway, same altitude, from what i've read on the matter. A few years ago, it used to be 80 nm separation)

If they didn’t get approval to go though Kabul FIR in time, or missed their slot time, the route to/from Europe can lengthen significantly, considering most Western airlines already avoid Iran, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, etc.

Not many options left.


Interesting. Thanks for the detail.

Why does Kabul use this method? Is it for safety or just an antiquated practice?

Re: BA 261 LHR-ISB strange route. 09/06

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2020 10:31 am
by CrustyBA
I'm a flight planner for British airways and we have been having problems with over flight permits for Russia lately. If it's a different day that the Flight is operating as opposed to the seasonal permits we have applied for then the Russian routing doesn't work unless we can have a last minute acceptance for a temporary permit. There has also been some military activity around that part of the world so that could also restrict are routing. Also not flying over Iran and Iraq is not allowed.

With regards to flying over Afghan airspace, this flight wouldn't need a "bobcat" slot as the times of its departure doesn't necessitate one. Times for a slot to fly through Afghan airspace are westbound flights entering afghan airspace between 2000z and midnight z

Re: BA 261 LHR-ISB strange route. 09/06

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2020 1:28 pm
by Thenoflyzone
atcsundevil wrote:
Ay caramba. Presumably it's mostly nonradar then? If they have radar and they're using 50nm separation, they're doing it wrong. Requiring rigid overflight slot times certainly complicates transiting an already precarious part of the world.


You could say that, yes.

Based on this 9 year old ICAO document, back when the US military was providing ATC services over Afghanistan, they had 3 ASR8 radars online, with plans to add 2 more. Mind you these are obsolete radar systems, and it could very well be that part/all of the radars in the system are unreliable. Hence the procedural enroute separation standards. Germany, with the help of Australia, was funding up to 30 MLAT surveillance system sensors to cover the remaining blind spots. The MLAT system wasn't yet operational at that time. It could also be that the US took back those ASR8 radars with them when they left.

From another document from 5 years ago, the MLAT system still wasn't operational. Pakistan is also mentioned as pitching in to help with the installation of new radars and Data link, basically confirming that the old ASR8 radars in Afghanistan are either not reliable, or not there anymore.

This document from 4 years ago mentions they implemented RNP10 50nm separation standards in Sept 2015. Another 4 year old document mentions there is no COM or Surveillance systems in place over Afghani airspace.

Considering things move slowly in that part of the world, it could very well be that the radar/MLAT systems still aren't operational or reliable enough to reduce lateral separation standards.

Antarius wrote:

Interesting. Thanks for the detail.

Why does Kabul use this method? Is it for safety or just an antiquated practice?


Due to all the airspace avoiding going on (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Ukraine, and even Russia, as they often dont allow overflight rights, or the fact that they charge expensive overflight fees), there is a pretty big westbound demand through Kabul FIR from flights originating from all the countries around the Bay of Bengal (India, Thailand, Singapore, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia etc). You can add Pakistan to the list as well.

A lot of countries have come together and put in place the Bay of Bengal Cooperative Air Traffic Flow management system (BOBCAT), which is a process to implement flow control through the use of entry point slot times through Kabul FIR. British Airways is one of the 60 or so airlines that participates in this program, since they have a lot of flights to the aforementioned countries. In fact, they are the 4th largest user of the program, behind TG, SQ and LH. As the poster above mine said, peak demand times for the westbound routes through Kabul are from 20z to midnight zulu.

https://www.icao.int/APAC/Meetings/2011 ... ements.pdf

The 4 year old ICAO link from above is also a good read on the matter.

Re: BA 261 LHR-ISB strange route. 09/06

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2020 1:44 pm
by eamondzhang
CrustyBA wrote:
I'm a flight planner for British airways and we have been having problems with over flight permits for Russia lately. If it's a different day that the Flight is operating as opposed to the seasonal permits we have applied for then the Russian routing doesn't work unless we can have a last minute acceptance for a temporary permit. There has also been some military activity around that part of the world so that could also restrict are routing. Also not flying over Iran and Iraq is not allowed.

With regards to flying over Afghan airspace, this flight wouldn't need a "bobcat" slot as the times of its departure doesn't necessitate one. Times for a slot to fly through Afghan airspace are westbound flights entering afghan airspace between 2000z and midnight z

Welcome to A.net where you'll find plenty of BA bashers around :stirthepot:

But on the serious side thanks for providing the insight - not too surprised tho given Russia is being known to be rigit about overflying rights, BA won't be the last one to have problems with this!

Cheers,
Michael

Re: BA 261 LHR-ISB strange route. 09/06

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2020 2:08 pm
by Thenoflyzone
The main problem isn't just Russia. It's Iran as well.

If Kabul FIR is constrained, the main backup for most airliners was transiting through Iran. Now that they've shot down a commercial airliner, all the airlines want to avoid Iranian airspace, so if Kabul can't accept your flight, then Iran isn't an option. This is why you see a lot of airliners transiting Saudi Arabian and Egyptian airspace. There is no where left to go. If those two countries start shooting down airliners too, things will start to get complicated, fast.....

Re: BA 261 LHR-ISB strange route. 09/06

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2020 2:33 pm
by raylee67
With how things are going in the world, I would not be surprised if Asia-Europe flights will need to take a permanent southern routing (i.e. over India, Saudi Arabia and Red Sea) like in the 1960s soon. And Asia-North America flights will skirt around China and Siberia with no more Polar flights.

Re: BA 261 LHR-ISB strange route. 09/06

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2020 7:43 pm
by atcsundevil
Thenoflyzone wrote:
You could say that, yes.

Based on this 9 year old ICAO document, back when the US military was providing ATC services over Afghanistan, they had 3 ASR8 radars online, with plans to add 2 more. Mind you these are obsolete radar systems, and it could very well be that part/all of the radars in the system are unreliable. Hence the procedural enroute separation standards. Germany, with the help of Australia, was funding up to 30 MLAT surveillance system sensors to cover the remaining blind spots. The MLAT system wasn't yet operational at that time. It could also be that the US took back those ASR8 radars with them when they left.

From another document from 5 years ago, the MLAT system still wasn't operational. Pakistan is also mentioned as pitching in to help with the installation of new radars and Data link, basically confirming that the old ASR8 radars in Afghanistan are either not reliable, or not there anymore.

Interesting. Given the hundreds of billions in investment there in the past two decades, I suppose I foolishly assumed a tiny portion of it would have gone into a semi-functional aviation infrastructure, especially given that overflight rights can be quite lucrative. Thanks for sharing!