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When Somaliland tries to discredit Somalia's ATC

 The Aviation Herald
Friday March 29, 2024

An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX, registration ET-AWH performing flight ET-690 from Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) to Bangalore (India), was enroute at FL370 over Somaliland in contact with Somalia's ATC.

An Emirates Airlines Boeing 777-300, registration A6-EGN performing flight EK-722 from Nairobi (Kenya) to Dubai (United Arab Emirates), was enroute at FL370 over Somaliland, the two aircraft were on converging trajectories.

According to Somaliland's Civil Aviation And Airport Authority a "harrowing" occurrence of a possible near collision was averted by the quick reaction of Somaliland's ATC Controllers (see their report below).

However, ADS-B data transmitted by the aircraft tell another story:

Both aircraft were at FL370 on converging trajectories over Somaliland, both in contact with Somalia's Air Traffic Control, when ET-690 began their step climb to FL390. At that point the aircraft's lateral distance was over 30nm. When ET-690 climbed through FL380 the aircraft were still 20nm apart. ET-690 was about 30nm before the crossing point when they began the climb, EK-722 was about 40nm ahead of the crossing point. When ET-690 crossed over the flight track of EK-722 already at FL390, EK-722 was still 10nm ahead of the crossing point. At no point in time separation minima were violated.

Consequently, Emirates Airlines "robustly" denied that such an occurrence as described by Somaliland's CAA has ever occurred.

Both aircraft continued to their destinations for safe landings.

Somaliland and Somalia struggle over who is in control of the airspace. In 2019 ICAO had assigned the control of entire Airspace of Somalia to Somalia's government in Mogadishu stating:

As you might be following up, the management of the airspace of Somalia had been transferred from ICAO-FISS Project-SOM14802 to the Somali Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) of the Federal Government of Somalia with effect from 1st AUG 2019. Thereafter, Somali Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) has been responsible for the provision of Air Navigation Services in the entire airspace of Somalia including Aeronautical Information Service/Management.

Somaliland, officially the Republic of Somaliland, is an internationally unrecognized state internationally deemed to be part of Somalia.

There have been reports of "invalid transmissions" on ATC frequencies over Northern Somalia (Somaliland) in the recent month, where ("hostile") voices other than the ATC controllers were attempting to provide instructions to aircraft, for example see: Incident: El Al B789 over Somalia on Feb 17th 2024, invalid communication on ATC frequency.

In essence, the statement by Somaliland's CAA such confirms, that Mogadishu (Somalia) ATC was in control of the aircraft and claims, that Somaliland controllers invalidly transmitted on that frequency providing instructions to an aircraft.

This conflict between Somaliland and Somalia endangers international air traffic over Somalia, in particular over Somaliland and the Gulf of Aden.

The statement by Somaliland's CAA:

Map with trajectories according to ADS-B data transmitted by both aircraft (Graphics: AVH/Google Earth):


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