ICAO planning airspace security review

image-726883-galleryV9-foiiUN aviation agency ICAO has confirmed that it is consulting with airlines and aviation organisations across the world to review the way in which authorities deem airspace too dangerous for commercial air traffic at times of armed conflict.

A meeting is liekly to be held in Montreal next week with airline body IATA and other aviation organisations and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization and Airports Council International to discuss the respective roles of each in airspace over conflict zones.

On July 17, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was downed and crashed near the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

The UN Security Council condemned the downing of the passenger aircraft and unanimously voted in support of a thorough and independent international investigation of the incident amid growing calls for clarity, transparency and a level playing field on the process that alerts airlines to airspace dangers.

Responding to the growing pressure, ICAO chief Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu said the Montreal-based UN agency is now consulting with airline industry body IATA and regional aviation organisations ‘on the respective roles of states, airlines and international organisations for assessing the risk of airspace affected by armed conflict’.

Malaysian transport ministry adviser Tan Sri Kayveas has said Ukraine’s air traffic control UKsatse should bear some responsibility over the downing of MH17 as it was flying through that air navigation service provider’s jurisdiction.

Altitude“Airlines depend on governments and air traffic control authorities to advise which airspace is available for flights,” he said, noting that while ICAO had issued warnings to en route traffic not to fly below a 22,000 feet threshold – Ukraine’s controllers had instructed MH17 to fly above 32,000 feet – which it did at 33,000 feet.

The airline’s flight operations chief Captain Izham Ismail said that Flight MH17 planned to fly at 35,000 feet but was instructed to fly at the next best altitude at 33,000 feet, which was above the restricted altitude, due to other aircraft flying nearby.

“The Malaysian Airlines crew filed a flight plan and Russia and Ukraine both accepted the airplane into their airspace,” he said.

Russian news agencies are also reporting that the Moscow-based Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) has added its weight to calls by the industry to urgently take measures ensuring safe operation of civil aviation in combat areas.

In a statement published on its website, it said: “IAC calls on all states, international organisations and all international aviation community to cooperate in order to develop urgently concrete measures aimed at ensuring safe operation of civil aviation in the areas of military conflicts.”

Meanwhile, ICAO’s officials confirmed that the team in Farnborough has verified that the MH17 cockpit voice recorder (CVR) is in good condition and that the digital flight data recorder (DFDR) is still under review.

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Posted in Airspace, Safety, Security, Uncategorized

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