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Iraqi airspace without control …

Shatha Khalil *
The history of Iraqi Airways is linked to civil aviation; and since the establishment of the modern Iraqi state in 1921, the Civil Aviation was under the Ministry of Defense, and before that ,it  was under the British occupation authorities.

When the first “civilian airport” was established in Iraq in 1933, the airport, which is located west of the capital Baghdad, was considered the finest among three air ports in the world in terms of: capacity, efficiency, and equipment.

Related subject see the following link: documents: Iraqi Airways, corruption in the land and the forbidden flight in the sky.

After the occupation of Iraq in 2003, the management of its air space was under the supervision of the Americans noting that they had frozen the work of the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority completely, and entrusted the management of the air space of Iraq to the US company , Washington Group, and under the supervision of the transport and aviation adviser at the US embassy in Baghdad Carlos Costello, while the air space of Iraq was administered from a base outside Iraq, and all permissions of entering to Iraqi airspace were issued from the outside.

And that the reorganization of Iraqi airspace requires increasing the number of horizontal and vertical lanes, and through competent international companies, and endorsed by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

And taking advantage from the air space is a marketing process (there may be an alternative air space for the passage of aircraft) but airlines companies choose the more secure and Safe air space, ie the absence of terrorist and military risks, and the safety is professional by having efficient air control in terms of people, radar, communications equipment and mechanisms of regulating air corridors and the horizontal and vertical separation between the aircraft to each other , and between aircraft and airports and elevation levels.

The Iraqi Ministry of Transport contracted with a competent British company for the management of air space , “Serco” company which began working actually in 2011, and the number of aircrafts transiting to Iraqi airspace were increased for 900 aircraft in the first months of 2012 and the figure remained stable without increasing due to the lack of services and observers , Serco Inc.

and some staff of air traffic control worked to draw a new air corridor through German company without passing of aircraft over the inflamed areas and this issue was introduced to the international civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) at a meeting in Astanah in November 18 , 201 6 (in the presence of Serco) and the organization approved and set March 27 , 2017 to operate the new corridor.

The Serco is one of the largest air navigation companies all over the world, and manages the airspace in more than 56 countries in the world, including 14 European countries, also operates the air space of Bahrain since 50 years ago, and air spaces of Qatar, Oman, the UAE , and is responsible for more than 96,000 miles of airspace and dealing with more than 6 million traffic to fly per year, and employs more than 700 specialist in air traffic watch in more than 75 airports in the United States, the United Kingdom and the Middle East .

The way of contracting of the Ministry of Transport with this company was made by an annual service contract to administrate the air space , and the training of Iraqi air traffic controllers , the idea was introduced to the Ministry of Transport, and the Minister of Transport then demanded to set up a joint workshop between the British company and the Civil Aviation Authority of Iraq, to discuss the idea and get to the best ways to understand it being a new experience on the government sector, and the Ministry of transport also noting that the contract was renewed three times in the second government of Maliki.

According to specialists, the supervision of the Serco company on Iraqi airspace is a big guarantee for security, safety and trust, where airline companies, delegations and foreign officials come to Iraq and they are confident to the safety of Iraqi airspace, and otherwise the relationship between foreign airlines and Iraqi airspace will be negative, and this is known to all officials in the Ministry of transport and Aviation authority and all of the related subject.

The problem of the lack of radar coverage is still going on in the western region of Iraq, as the radars range is 250 km and it is possible to imagine the area that is free from the coverage and radars existed only in Basra, Baghdad and Kirkuk.

The technicians at the ministry were directed to buy radars and automation from Raytheon Company ( US Raytheon), but the pressures and directives issued from high authorities to contract with Thales ( French Thales) , and so it has been contracted to buy three radars and the device of Automation, but the radars remained in the port of Umm Qasr since 2015 and the automation device was instilled but was not operated only before a few months due to the lack of existence of software that its value does not exceed 20 thousand dollars? The ministry was unable to install radars and operation of the new systems because their leaders are preoccupied with media and others.

It was supposed with the arrival, installation and operation of these systems to appoint 250 aerial observer as a first stage and the Serco to train them but it was appointed 75 observers while the other functional grades were manipulated and converted to administrators and workers of service and others to enable departments to appoint their relatives and their followers, note that whenever the air traffic is increased , it is supposed to increase capabilities of al-Automation devices as well as increasing the number of air traffic controllers.

But after the events of Daesh in 2014, the number of aircraft transiting through Iraqi airspace are decreased to 30 aircraft, mostly Iranian and Syrian and Russian aircraft (some of these aircraft are not originally registered as they are transiting ).

Air traffic control:

Air traffic control means: it is a service provided by ground –based controllers who direct aircraft and can provide advisory services to aircraft in non- controlled airspace.

The primary purpose of ATC worldwide is to prevent collisions , organize and expedite the flow of air traffic and provide information and other support for pilots in some countries , and it means the regulation of the movement of aircraft in the mobility and movement, and to walk side by side or perpendicular with each other in a space may be far away or to be close with little degree of approaching without touching each other, except through this geographical approach within the limits of time and space, and the “air controller” turns into an efficient “surgeon “monitors the pulse” of the plane with ” serious glances of his eyes that do not depart from the electronic screen of converged angles , who tracks through which large numbers of aircraft through luminous circles moving in front of him slowly, but in accelerated slow , as if he tries with the language of complex numbers to separate the aircraft adaptive in its trends and being far in its size , and its denominations inside a room of air operations that it sometimes provides instructions to guide them to the appropriate air route to transit through internationally recognized airlines.

Basic targets for air traffic control
– Prevention of accidents between civilian and military aircraft, and air barriers, facilitating air traffic, and achieve safety factor between aircraft.

– supervision and responsibility for the airport services such as lightening and ambulance, fire extinguishing , and give any warning information that the plane may be exposed to it , and prevent collisions between aircraft on the airport ground , directing aircraft to and from the runways and parks .

– Maintaining the movement of aircraft in a rapid, regular and safe way, and provide the necessary information for the aircraft on the ground and in the air; to provide a safe trip, with high efficiency.
– To inform the concerned authorities in the event of need of the aircraft to search and rescue teams, or in the event of accidents.

– To provide air traffic services, which includes three sections, namely: service of air traffic control, flight information service (FIS), and alarm or search and rescue service (ALR.S).
For more details, see the link (ATC ).

Unimplemented plans
A source of Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies, said there were plans to manage the air space , and the aviation in 2020 to reach 10,000 flights over Iraqi airspace daily, but now it is up to about 800 flights, and since Iraq has three older radars as we mentioned, and it was supposed to contract with a US company for radars since 2015, but the Iranian veto, strongly opposed this due to the fact that this deal constitutes a threat to Iran’s national security, according to the source.

The deputy director of air traffic control Fadel Kata Budan, and according to what is stated in the official books below that he was meeting weekly inside the airport with US military officials , including the director of Joint Coordination Colonel Ryan and officer of joint coordination Major Chelsea as well as the representative of Serco company for purpose of passing the warplanes of coalition that have been involved in the battle against the terrorist organization Daesh over the sky of Iraq .

Books stated that “Fadel Kata Budan ” has exceeded , making use of his powers , the Iraqi Civil Aviation Administration, in addition to the Ministry of Transport and Communications to grant the international coalition an air corridor for its aircraft at a time when civil aircraft are in the skies of Iraq, and in an official letter , the administrative order issued by the Iraqi Ministry of Transport / General Establishment of Civil Aviation / human resources section number / private / 5990 dated 02/05/2017, an order provides to discharge the control director Fadhel Kata Budan , because of the separation of an air corridor of civil and military aviation, without consultation with the civil Aviation authority and the Ministry and the relevant authorities, which have negatively affected the air traffic in Iraq, according to the book.

But there is another official letter of an older date proved the contrary, number 156 and the date of 18.2 .2016 indicates that Fadel has coordinated with the General director of Iraqi Civil Aviation establishment about military air corridor of international coalition , explaining in the book that the aim of the air corridor is the separation of warplanes from civil Aviation to reduce the risks that may occur in the future, and discuss air traffic of departure and arrival from and to Hreer airport (25 miles northeast of Erbil international Airport) to find procedures to ensure that there is no intersection with the next air traffic of departure and arrival of the airport Erbil international, and set a time limit for the reconnaissance aircraft working over the city Baghdad , which intersect with the civil movement; to ensure the smooth flow of air traffic, and to ensure the commitment of all parties with the instructions issued by the Civil Aviation Authority / Air Control concerning the transition from work to raythin system to the tales.

He stressed in the book itself on the contact of all military aircraft operating in the airspace with frequencies included for the units of control and surveillance of the Department of air traffic control; to be separated from the civil movement, to secure the safety and flow of air traffic, and it was determined one day of every week to follow up on the mentioned points, and follow-up developments.

And he reveals the relationship of the airport staff with the Economic Commission of the foundation, and as he said, the committee organizes suspicious contracts related to the field of air traffic control and supervision , and adds that the separation of military aircraft from civilian aircraft is one of the most important international requirements for Civil Aviation “ICAO”, and the authority of the US Civil Aviation “FAA” as well as the request of the Arab and international airlines to the return of planes to the skies of Iraq.

Serco company and some staff of air traffic control are working to draw a new air corridor through a German company without passing of aircraft over the inflamed areas , and this issue was introduced to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) at the Astana meeting on 18 November 2016 (in the presence of Serco) and the organization agreed and set 27 March 2017 to operate the new corridor.

It must be associated with it to persuade the international companies to return to Iraqi airspace and leave the Iranian airspace, for example, the Emirates airline, one of the largest international companies have expressed its desire to return to the use of Iraqi airspace, which has 130 flights per day, and Etihad Airways 80 flights Per day.

It was one of the terms of companies to return to the Iraqi airspace, it is the separation of the military aviation from the civil aviation and it is worth noting that most of the military aviation in Iraqi airspace is the external flight ( aircraft carriers in the Gulf).

Iraq obtains $ 375, for each aircraft crossing Iraqi airspace, and the total revenue of Iraq from crossing the air space in the previous period, approximately $300 thousand dollars a day, but the neighboring countries receive at a rate of $ 1,500 or more for each aircraft and on this basis a study has been made to increase the wages of crossing of aircraft to the Iraqi airspace up to $ 1,000 per aircraft , and it is expected the return of 1000 aircraft to cross per day in the near future, which means that the output will be million dollars a day, and these funds will help to support the state budget, and in the case of the establishment of the company , the money will go to the contracting company , and Iraq will lose it.
And that the activation of the air space and the organization of its air traffic leads to increase the economic and financial revenue of the country and this what was rejected by some of them because it is an obstacle against their personal interests seeking for the continuity of the rampant of financial and administrative corruption in government institutions to serve them.

Corruption in Najaf Airport:
The opening of the airport was carried out officially on 20/7/2008 under the administration of Kuwait Holding Aqeeq Company for Aviation Service, which is the investor, and people of the province hopes to take advantage of its revenues in the reconstruction of their province , and to provide services that befits the capital of religious and scientific tourism.

But reports from inside Najaf International Airport revealed the presence of suspicions of corruption from inside the airport that the process of its money management dominated by uncertainty and doubt, it does not go to the treasury of the province, or even the state.

A source from within the Najaf airport, after the exit of invested company in 2009 said the Najaf provincial council has formed a council to administrate the airport, this is not of his powers, not to mention the chaos, and quotas and partisan conflicts over quotas and projects, and appointments at the airport.

The reports continued to add that airport management is a violation of the laws and the Constitution, the fact that most of its members are members of the provincial council, and this is contrary to the Constitution and the law, which does not allow the legislative authority to carry out the executive tasks and functions caused by devoting quotas, and the exclusion of competencies that it was possible to manage the airport in a professional and scientific way
.
Among the legal violations in Najaf airport also , contracting with large numbers of employees whose their qualification do not fit with the nature of work and in hard currency in breach of contract wage laws in the Iraqi state, and the management of airport funds that are supposed to be subject to a professional specialized body composed of professional accountants and the control bodies to audit the revenue noting that they collide with the current board, which considered itself as an administrative and supervisory council that prevents any party from exercising the oversight role of the airport revenues.

Iranian aircraft cross Iraqi airspace without watch:
Since the occurrence of a wide popular protest movement in Syria in the 2011 for the reform, which turned out later to call to topple Bashar regime, Iran used Iraqi airspace to transport weapons, fighters and civilian aircraft to Syria.
US Senator John Kerry, who served as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate threatened to reconsider US aid to Baghdad unless such trips are stopped through its airspace, and the US intelligence report stated that Iranian weapons are flowing to Syria through Iraq in huge quantities, explaining that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards is the one who organizes trips to transfer of arms.

Intelligence report added that “This is part of the planned process followed by Iran that the US officials did not talk about it publicly only recently after previous statements that provide the contrary,” he said. “This is contrary also with the statements of Iraqi officials noting that the aircraft are taking off from Iran to Syria through Iraq almost daily carrying members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and tens of tons of weapons to arm the Syrian security forces and militias fighting the opposition.”

In the context of the report, Western diplomats said that “Iran has concluded an agreement with Iraq to use its airspace.
The US magazine “New York Times” revealed on 5 / September 2012 that the high-ranking US officials have declared that Iran is transporting military equipment to Syria through Iraqi airspace in an effort to strengthen the position of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying that allowing the transfer of weapons flown to Syria, contrary to the securiy Council resolutions 1929 and 1747, which are preventing arms exports from Iran.

It is noteworthy that a source in the Iranian embassy in Baghdad said that an Iranian transport airplane belonging to the airline of Air Iran received orders to land at Baghdad airport and subject to inspection “carefully ,for fear of being loaded with arms transporting to the Syrian regime, but the Iranian side said:” we have informed the Iraqi side that the inspection of Iranian aircraft heading to Syria is contrary to the principles of good-neighborliness and strong relations between the two countries, and signed memorandums of understanding, “and expressed hope that” not to repeat such incidents. ”

The Survey Network Brobboblaka said, “The documents contain new information, as it pointed out that Baghdad asked several times to inspect Syrian flights that pass through Iraqi airspace coming from Iran and Russia and the US officials confirmed its trueness to the network.”

Among the weak contracts economically is the contract of the nomination of the company of Iranian Air Mahan awarded the tender to provide ground services at the airport and share in the opportunity of investment at the request of the Iraqi Ministry of Transport and the signing of its Acting minister / Abdul Hussein Gbtan, an official letter numbered 1 / r / 1405 dated 21.12.2016.

And Air Mahan : is a private flight company based in Tehran, Iran; founded in 1991 and began its work in June 1992 as the first private airline in Iran to conduct flights to the Far East, Middle East, Central Asia and Europe.

special sources of the Rawabet Center revealed : that the administration of Iraqi Airways insisted on contracting with Iranian companies despite offers made by foreign companies of better quality and best prices for the submission services that the Iraqi institution wishes it in all sectors of Iraqi civil aviation .

To overcome routine obstacles and achieve justice and fairness with Iraqi observers to increase their salaries , the ministry proposed in 2014 the establishment of a joint venture with a foreign partner that is concerned with air control that the foreign partner to provide all the equipment and the training for Iraqi cadres gradually, and the responsibility today lies on the Transport Minister Kazem Finjan al-Hamami , ” that his qualification is marine guide , to take “proper and independent management to reorganize Iraqi airspace and sovereignty, and the use of qualified and efficient expertise, so that the Iraqi Airways will return to be the best in the region , as it was ..

 

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