International Prohibited, Warning and Danger Airspace

Not everywhere is it safe or wise to operate unarmed civilian (Private or Commercial) aircraft. Just as there are different levels of risk, there are different labels for the airspace that a pilot needs to be familiar with and advised about. During pilot training, US pilots will learn about Special Use Airspace. The differences and similarities to ICAO need to be recognized. Just as important is where operations planners/dispatchers and operating pilots can find notice of these hazardous areas.The ICAO and the FAA seem to agree on these definitions.

Prohibited Area

FAA, Airspace designated under part 73 within which no person may operate an aircraft without the permission of the using agency. ICAO, Airspace of defined dimensions, above the land areas or territorial waters of a State, within which the flight of aircraft is prohibited. Common examples are political leader’s residences, nuclear power plants and critical infrastructures like dams, bridges and seaports.

Restricted Area

FAA, Airspace designated under Part 73 within which the flight of aircraft, while not wholly prohibited, is subject to restriction. ICAO, Airspace of defined dimensions, above the land areas or territorial waters of a State, within which the flight of aircraft is restricted in accordance with certain specified conditions. Examples of these areas are cultural landmarks, natural disaster areas and some large public gatherings. The significance difference between Prohibited and Restricted is that the permitted entry and operation inside restricted is easier to obtain. Similarities begin to unravel at this point…

Danger Area

The ICAO defines this as, “An airspace of defined dimensions within which activities dangerous to the flight of aircraft may exist at specified times” This is a broad-brush definition and can include whatever the issuing state defines as a danger. Common areas are military training routes/areas, live fire missile ranges, pistol/rifle ranges for military or police.

FAA does not have a definition for “Danger Area”. FAA does define Military Training Routes, Military Operations Areas, Controlled Firing Areas and Warning Areas. The FAA will also use Temporary Flight Restrictions to ensure separation and security for major sporting events, natural disaster areas, air shows, space launches, and Presidential movements. The responsibility for screening requests for TFR and for subsequent granting or denying them lies with the FAA's Office of System Operations Security.

World Conflict Zones

In 2014 a non-combatant civilian airliner was overflying an ongoing battle when it was shot down. One of ICAO’s responses was to establish an on-line conflict zone risk information repository. This resource is accessible via ICAO’s public website homepage for the general public. Only authorized State officials have the right to submit risk information. In all cases, the identity of the State submitting information to the repository will be clearly indicated, and States being referenced in a risk submission will also have the opportunity to review and approve the related information prior to public posting.

Okay, But How Do I Find This Information?

Aeronautical Information Publication, AIP The AIP is the official word from the country you are traveling in or over. Look in the AIP’s Enroute section, Chapter 5.0 titled “Navigation Warnings”. This is the same place that charting companies will references to produce the chart annotation that we use operationally in the cockpit.

Aeronautical Information Circulars, AIC AICs are used to provide information which relates to flight safety, air navigation, technical, administrative or legislative matters and may be used for disseminating information with graphical content that does not qualify for inclusion into the AIP or a NOTAM. This is an ICAO definition that the FAA does not use.

Special Federal Aviation Regulation, SFAR The FAA has sometimes seen the need to issue Special Federal Aviation Regulations. These are frequently focused very specifically on a unique situation, and are usually given a limited length of time for effectiveness. The SFAR number is purely a sequential number and has no relevance to the regulation it is addressing or attached to. This is a FAA definition that the ICAO does not use.

Notices to Airmen, NOTAM These are defined inside both the ICAO and FAA. This notice will cover short duration or temporary changes or short notice permanent changes. They contain information concerning the establishment, condition or change in any aeronautical facility, service, procedure or hazard, the timely knowledge of which is essential to personnel concerned with flight operations. A “Trigger NOTAM” can used to inform users of operationally significant information due to be incorporated into an AIP from previous publications.

OpsSpec B450 The FAA maintains a list of foreign areas where potentially hostile situations exist. They will communicate vital and time sensitive safety information regarding over flights and/or flights into these areas to operators listed on OpSpec/MSpec/LOA B450. B450 is not an authorization, but is a data collection template that tracks what sensitive countries an operator operates into or overflies. B450 is mandatory for the areas of operation identified as sensitive international areas authorized in the operator’s B050. B450 is applicable to 14 CFR parts 121, 125, 135, 91 and 91K.

What Other Places Should I be Looking at to Stay Out of Trouble?

US Department of State, Travel Warnings The US State Department will issue a Travel Warning when they want US citizens to consider very carefully whether they should go to a country at all. Examples of reasons for issuing a Travel Warning might include unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks. Travel Warnings remain in place until the situation changes; some have been in effect for years.

US Department of State, Travel Alerts The US State Department issues a Travel Alert for short-term events they think you should know about when planning travel to a country. Examples of reasons for issuing a Travel Alert might include an election season that is bound to have many strikes, demonstrations, or disturbances; a health alert like an outbreak of H1N1; or evidence of an elevated risk of terrorist attacks. When these short-term events are over, the Travel Alert is cancelled.

US Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control, OFAC OFAC of the US Department of the Treasury administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on US foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries and regimes, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Blocking of assets and trade restrictions to accomplish foreign policy and national security goals, sanctions can be either comprehensive or selective. Here are examples of comprehensively embargoed countries: Crimea Region of Ukraine, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria

US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security: Export Administration Regulation, EAR This agency has the mission statement of ensuring an effective export control and treaty compliance system and promoting continued U.S. strategic technology leadership. Below here is a link to the most current published list Commerce Control List. Countries with Restricted Entities on the EAR Entity Chart are: China, Canada, Germany, Iran, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, Egypt, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Lebanon, Singapore, South Korea, Syria, United Arab Emirates the United Kingdom.

The International Traffic in Arms Regulations, ITAR: Prohibited Countries The U.S. Government views the sale, export, and re-transfer of defense articles and defense services as an integral part of safeguarding U.S. national security and furthering U.S. foreign policy objectives. The Arms Export Control Act authorizes the President to control the export and import of defense articles and defense services. These regulations are primarily administered by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Defense Trade Controls, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. The list of prohibited countries is pretty long: Afghanistan, Belarus, Central African Republic, Cuba, Cyprus, Eritrea, Fiji, Iran, Iraq, Cote d'Ivoire, Lebanon, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Vietnam, Myanmar, China, Haiti, Liberia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Republic of the Sudan (Northern Sudan), Yemen, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

  • 1. What you know from Domestic US operations will not translate worldwide
  • 2. Current charts plus a review of NOTAMS,AIC and ICAO sources are required
  • 3. What you are carrying aboard can cause trouble w/o proper permitting


Useful Links

FAA Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices


ICAO Conflict Zone Information Repository

US Department of State Travel Warnings/Alerts

US Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control - Sanctions Programs and Information

US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, Export Administration Regulation and Commerce Control List.

The International Traffic in Arms Regulations, ITAR, Prohibited Countries