Sunday, April 26, 2009

you know; you can't go home

Now here's something. Remember British Gulf International? The first, founding mob in the Viktor Bout story. Still, as late as last year, by far the biggest source of dubious aircraft movements through the UAE, almost all going to markets in the War on Trrr. The data speaks for itself; between the Viktorfeed going live and Friday, November 7, 2008, they sent off 1,093 flights from Dubai and Sharjah and none of them were going anywhere even vaguely normal. When I reanalysed the flights with no destination, it was even worse.

A problem with the Viktorfeed is that it's hard to keep it in mind; it dumps a hundred or so movements into my RSS reader daily, even with improvements to the filtering process. So I'm late to spot that BGIA is gone. Something like this was overdue, after the official Antonov-12 ban; we monitored 150 outbounds and practically no inbound in a very short space of time, but the system kept turning. And BGIA kept going.

We were speculating about where the scene might move to. Where is the Hoxton to the UAE's Camden? Rather, the UAE was already that. Before that there was Ostend and South Africa. Ajay reckoned Conakry or Asmara were top options. However, the Vitebsk Popular News had already given us a clue.
The crew S9-SAO was pilot of Vitebsk from the same regiment, which Bout.

That might be the 339th. Now, the last ever BGIA flight from the UAE seems to have occurred on the 27th of February, at 2339Z, heading for Kandahar with the callsign BGI1522. Since then, nothing. Nada. But where did they go? The answer seems to be "home"; in particular, Mogilev in Belarus. Here's a photo; apparently, the sleepy airfield among the birches is suddenly full of An-12s since the UAE ban was announced.

More, when I get a moment to mung some SQL; I have a vague impression that most of the BGIA movements are now under Phoenix/AVE's new 2E callsign, but I need to run the numbers.


Laban said...

I'm truly impressed that one person can put all this together. Real journalism.

Maybe I haven't read enough posts, but where does all the flight information come from ? I presume it's somewhere in the public domain, but where ? Is there a post in which you explain how you do it ?

Alex said...

It's scraped from Dubai and Sharjah airports' Web sites by a machine of me own devisin'. I recommend you use the Viktor and Operation Firedump tags to navigate the archive. There's a presentation on the project I gave at OpenTech last year here. The feed itself is here and there's a map visualisation here. Lots of data analysis is here.

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ajay said...

Ajay reckoned Conakry or Asmara were top options. However, the Vitebsk Popular News had already given us a clue. Typical. The one week I forget to flick through the Vitebsk Popular News, and this story turns up. That really makes me regret spending the extra ten minutes instead on the crossword in the Poltava Advertiser.

Alex said...

In still-fairly-Soviet Belarus, the Vitebsk Popular News flicked through us!

Kathryn Cramer said...

This is what real blogging is like. Good work.

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