February 28, 2022
Following the declaration by the Minister of Transport, Canada’s airspace was closed to all Russian aircraft operators on Sunday, February 27, 2022. Transport Canada requested that NAV CANADA, the independent operator of Canada’s air navigation system (ANS), issue a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) accordingly:
“ALL AIRCRAFT OWNED, CHARTERED OR OPERATED OR OTHERWISE CONTROLED BY A PERSON CONNECTED WITH RUSSIA, OR WHICH IS REGISTERED IN RUSSIA, AND ALL OPERATORS HOLDING AN AIR OPERATOR CERTIFICATE (AOC) ISSUED BY THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION AUTHORITIES ARE PROHIBITED TO ENTER, EXIT OR OVERFLY CANADA‘S AIRSPACE.”
All pilots are required to comply with NOTAMs. Those that do not are reported to Transport Canada, as the appropriate authority. NAV CANADA advises Transport Canada’s Aviation Operations Centre (AVOPS). AVOPS is the facility responsible for civil aviation emergency preparedness activities and incident reporting.
Transport Canada is the sole authority with respect to investigating matters of non-compliance and imposing penalties or sanctions on air carriers, where warranted.
NAV CANADA has taken steps to work with all other adjacent air navigation service providers to ensure Russian aircraft are rerouted around Canadian airspace.
On Sunday afternoon, Aeroflot flight AFL111 departed Miami International Airport and approached Canadian airspace. The pilot was informed the flight was not to enter Canadian airspace, according to the NOTAM.
The pilot indicated he was aware of the NOTAM but declared the flight a humanitarian flight and would enter Canadian airspace.
Under normal circumstances, NAV CANADA does not have the authority to deny airspace access to an airborne aircraft declaring itself a humanitarian flight, medical emergency/MEDEVAC or an emergency flight.
NAV CANADA’s air traffic controllers therefore operated under existing protocols to accept the humanitarian flight declaration at face value and permit passage in accordance with international civil aviation protocols. NAV CANADA’s priority at that point is to ensure the safety of all aircraft in the region and ensure proper separation of all aircraft until the flight in question leaves the airspace, which was done.
Subsequent to AFL111, two other Russian aircraft operating in U.S. airspace attempted to declare themselves “humanitarian,” but these flights were ordered around Canadian airspace by neighbouring air navigation service providers.
NAV CANADA is working collaboratively with Transport Canada and has issued a directive to air traffic control units to ensure all processes are in place to deny identifiable Russian aircraft access to Canadian airspace, unless prior approval has been received by Transport Canada. Per Transport Canada, in the event an emergency has been declared, NAV CANADA is required to direct the aircraft to land at the closest and most suitable airport, while promptly notifying the regulator.
Non-compliance events contrary to the restriction by the Government of Canada are to continue to be reported immediately to the Canadian Air Defense Sector and Transport Canada through already established protocols.
NAV CANADA is a private, not-for-profit company, established in 1996, providing air traffic control, airport advisory services, weather briefings and aeronautical information services for more than 18 million square kilometres of Canadian domestic and international airspace. The Company is internationally recognized for its safety record, and technology innovation. Air traffic management systems developed by NAV CANADA are used by air navigation service providers in countries worldwide.