View Full Version : CSA flight threatened with fighters by Sofia Control

cargo boy
27th Jul 2004, 05:40
Was en-route last night from Turkey back to the UK when an interesting exchange took place between a CSA flight and Sofia Control. The CSA flight was ahead of us and was asked by Macedonia Control what their intentions where as they were not permitted into Bulgarian airspace. After some confusion, Macedonia asked the CSA what the two waypoints were after EVIVI (FIR boundary between Macedonia CTL and Sofia CTL). The CSA was advised to change frequency to Sofia.

Shortly afterwards we heard Sofia Control demanding that the CSA do a 180 and head out of their airspace back to EVIVI waypoint. There ensued much confusion in broken english between the controller and the pilot. The pilot insisted that he had been cleared to the next waypoint and the controller demanding that he leave Bulgarian airspcae immediately. It got to the point that the controller threatened the CSA aircraft that if they didn't make a 180 there and then, fighters would be sent to deal with them!!!!

We then saw an aircraft many miles ahead, swing round and head back in the opposite direction with calls made by the CSA not answered by Sofia and then being answered by Skopje Control on 121.5 and advising the CSA to call Sofia. Eventually, the CSA stopped replying. Next we heard Sofia trying to contact the CSA on both frequencies but no reply from the CSA.

Later on when under Budapest CTL we heard the CSA check in and they were cleared onwards and started their descent. No doubt they sorted out the mess and were probably recleared by Macedonia CTL into Yugoslav airspace.

Certainly perked up the start of a long, second night sector. :zzz:

I suppose the moral of the story is make sure your Operations department give you a plog that matches what they filed with ATC!!! :ooh: :ouch:

7th Sep 2004, 09:58
I strongly doubt that was the problem since OFPs and FPLs are produced at once by a integrated Jepp. software package, hence a little or no possibility of a mis-match. Also, I donīt recall any routing via EVIVI (no maps at hand rat the moment, however) and we certainly never transit FYROM to Bulgaria, since our flights are north-west bound at that point (RAXAD VAGEN NEPOT PELOV TISAK TONDO from FYROM through Yugoslavia to Hungary). Perhaps a weather diverison across a FIR boundary or yet another creative off-route direct by the "real" Macedonia not challenged by anyone in time?


AN2 Driver
7th Sep 2004, 18:02
If I am not mistaken and things have not changed to dramatically recently, the only airway I know from FYROM into BG is the low level tranist route from Skopje to Sofia, only used for flights between these 2 airports.

However, I do recall that both Bulgaria and Serbia require overflight permits and I have been requested the numbers of such permits before on ATC when entering either country. I do recall one instance where the Serbian ATC had lost our overflight permit number and therefore turned us back into Hungary and home eventually due to that. I am fairly confident that this has not changed in the mean time, so you still need overflight permits for these countries.

If the CSA did not have it, then came in on an unfiled routing, then refused to obey the instructions of Sofia Control, all of this in combination probably overstepped the tolerance level available to the ATC involved, and the "offer" of a fighter escort, probably to the nearest airport for a lenghty interview, would seem a possible consequence.

Any flight plan filed this way would probably have been rejected on filing, so I rekon it is more likely that the plane in question were doing a bit of a detour intentionally and thought they get away with it. Wrong assumption on their part by the looks of it.

Best regards

AN2 Driver

7th Sep 2004, 18:31
FYROM?Where did that come from? And EVIVI? Try UN133 PEREN -EVIVI - Sofia VOR-ERDON-LOMOS.You might find that the Greek portion from PEREN to EVIVI is controlled by MaKedonia Control.Which is in Thesssaloniki.Greece,not MaCedonia.

At least that's how it was last Saturday morning.

Incidentally the distance on UN133 between EVIVI and LOMOS - that part of the route in Bulgarian airspace which is under Sofia Control - is 146 nM.Around 20 minutes?


12th Sep 2004, 06:45
Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macdonia, try Google. Anyway it is a black powder keg and I am not going anywhere closer. I do not (again) have maps at hand, but the point is that we never plan flights from Skopje FIR to Sofia FIR since that would be a detour.


12th Sep 2004, 10:37
Flight Detent,you may well find that when you have maps to hand you will appreciate that the flight planning aspect had not escaped me.

14th Sep 2004, 07:31
Dear Soddit, a small correction is on its place here. The radar controllers we call Makedonia are in fact based in the radar control center in Athens based on the old airport Hellenikon. Indeed the Thessaloniki airport bears the same name but has in fact nothing to do with it. The Athina and Makedonia controllers sit besides each other.......
Greetz QTA

15th Sep 2004, 16:47
It's about time that SOMEONE threatened the CSA - they make ex-husbands lives a misery!

20th Sep 2004, 07:05
Thanks QTA - PM on its way to you.

20th Sep 2004, 07:25
I feel for the controllers who were, I gues, just the guys in the middle.

I have been in a very similar situation of having to tell the pilot of an airlines full of pax that he has to divert or would be shot down and it is very, very difficult to balance professionalism and a desire to help the crew with the demands of an outside agency. In my case I was not helped by having a maching gun stuck in my ear as the pilot laughed and said "You must be joking; we're carrying on!" Eventually the message got through that it wasn't a joke and the aircraft landed as instructed.

(So far as I recall this was NOT during my time at Heathrow!)

20th Sep 2004, 08:39
It is a long resolved issue by now I've learned, teething problems so to speak. With our brand new equipment :E we now operate to HRG which takes us from Hellas FIR to Sofia FIR via EVIVI indeed. Caused at first by less than optimal FPL addressing on behalf of HRG ARO and paperwork troubles with Sofia.
Just recently I've sat on the sector next to some 15k+ hrs broken English speaker who said he had to reroute via Skopje before.

Anyhow what thanks to PPRuNE and HD for thoughs from the other side (generally speaking). Yet I imagine the real seat of pain is under the canopy of intercepting aircraft.