Thu, Nov 03, 2011
Iraqi ATC Now Controls All Aircraft Movements
With the Air Force's assistance, Iraq now has full air traffic
control responsibility for the country's airspace for the first
time since 2003. The Air Force transferred management of the
Baghdad and Joint Base Balad Airspace sector to the Iraq Civil
Aviation Authority Oct0ber 1.
With this historic step, Iraq's air traffic controllers now
direct the movement of all aircraft within the busiest and most
complex airspace in Iraq, officials said. "This transfer was the
culmination of a multi-year effort by the Air Force, U.S.
Embassy-Baghdad and the ICAA to help Iraq develop a
self-sufficient, national air traffic control system," said Maj.
Adam Fiedler, an airspace planner with the U.S. Forces-Iraq Air
Component Coordination Element-Iraq.
This project is one of many U.S. and Iraq initiatives that
support Iraq's economic development and sovereignty under the
Strategic Framework Agreement. From the Baghdad Area Control
Center, the ICAA now controls the airspace directly over Baghdad
and provides approach and departure services for aircraft arriving
and departing from Baghdad International Airport.
In August 2007, the airspace transfer process started with the
ICAA taking control of the airspace above 29,000 feet over Iraq,
Fiedler said. Surveillance and control over Iraqi airspace
officially transferred to Iraqi authority as part of the security
agreement Jan. 1, 2009. During the transition, the Iraqi government
requested additional help from the U.S. due to gaps in capacity. To
overcome this, the ACCE-Iraq and U.S. Embassy Transportation
Attaché office officials partnered with the ICAA to
incrementally transfer airspace as their capability and capacity
increased. "Essentially, this last airspace transfer culminates
more than four years' worth of effort and has returned true
airspace sovereignty to Iraq," Fiedler said. "It signifies that
Iraq reached a point where it can stand on its own and no longer
require U.S. support and assistance. They own, operate and control
their own national airspace system."
Fiedler said this herculean effort would have been challenging
enough in a permissive environment, but the added complexities of
integrating during ongoing tactical air operations in support of
security efforts made this accomplishment all the more significant
and impressive for the ICAA.
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