Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 30, 2015

FAA Bans Flights Over Iraq As International Aviation Group Eyes New Warning Procedures

The Federal Aviation Administration on Friday banned U.S. air carriers from flying in the airspace above Iraq.

The FAA order which bans flights over Iraq “until further advised,” was due to the hazards created by fighting between Sunni forces under the Islamic State banner and Kurdish and Iraqi government forces.

The United States joined the conflict Friday when two U.S. F-18 aircraft attacked Islamic State forces who were shelling Kurdish soldiers defending the city of Erbil, where U.S. military and diplomatic personnel are located.

The FAA action came a day after Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, said in a speech and in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. and other governments had not fulfilled their duty to warn air carriers about the risks of flying over eastern Ukraine prior to the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight on July 17 by a surface-to-air missile, killing all 298 aboard.

Moak called the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 “a watershed event” thatrequired the FAA and other federal agencies to design “a timely process to notify” air carriers.

Next week in Montreal the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Task Force on Risks to Civil Aviation Arising From Conflict Zones will hold its first meeting.

That group is expected to make recommendations to ICAO for changes in how air carriers are promptly warned of evolving risks in wars and other conflicts.

ICAO, the International Air Transport Association and other aviation groups said in a joint statement last month that warning air carriers is “a highly complex and politically sensitive area of international coordination, involving not only civil aviation regulations and procedures but also state national security and intelligence gathering activities.”

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