War-zone air safety steps proposed

  • Article by: NEW YORK TIMES
  • Updated: September 3, 2014 - 7:35 PM

Aviation experts examined wreckage in Ukraine in July.

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– Responding to the downing of a Malaysian passenger jet over eastern Ukraine in July, Europe’s top aviation safety agency urged national governments on Wednesday to share intelligence data with aviation authorities to better enable international regulators and airlines to assess the risks of flying over conflict zones.

“We have to find a more fluid system for sharing vital safety information,” Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Aviation Safety Agency, told members of the European Parliament’s transportation committee. “We believe there should be a requirement to establish, in Europe, an alert system that covers all the components of the aviation community, including the appropriate sharing of appropriate information and the involvement of military intelligence.”

The call for greater coordination comes after the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which showed that the standard procedures used by aviation authorities and airline flight planners to protect passenger planes over the war zone in eastern Ukraine were catastrophically inadequate.

Flight 17, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was shot down on July 17 over territory controlled by pro-Russian rebels, killing all 298 people on board. A preliminary report by the Dutch Safety Board is expected to be published as early as Friday.

Ky said the goal of the agency was to establish a protocol for sharing intelligence gathered by European Union member states that would enable it to quickly evaluate the credibility of airspace safety assessments provided by countries affected by armed conflict.

The details of those evaluations need not be made public, he said, but the agency would publish a formal bulletin advising airlines and passengers of the security threat level. If the agency’s advice contradicted a country’s official assessment, airlines that still chose to fly routes deemed potentially dangerous would be required to justify their decision and inform passengers.

Ky said several E.U. member nations had already expressed a willingness to participate.

New York Times

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