U.N. aviation agency acknowledges complexity of ensuring flight safety over conflict zones

The United Nations aviation agency released a statement Tuesday following a high-level meeting at its headquarters in Montreal concerning "the appropriate actions to be pursued in order to more effectively mitigate potential risks to civil aviation arising from conflict zones." The meeting was held in response to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over restive eastern Ukraine on July 17.
By JC Finley  |  July 30, 2014 at 5:25 PM
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MONTREAL, July 30 (UPI) -- The United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization convened a high-level meeting on Tuesday to discuss the risks posed to civilian aircraft flying over conflict zones.

The meeting was held in response to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was shot down over restive eastern Ukraine by a surface-to-air missile on July 17.

A joint statement issued at the end of the meeting reminded the 191 member States "of their responsibilities to address any potential risks to civil aviation in their airspace."

The ICAO recognized the complexity of sharing threat assessments because of the sensitive coordination required of a variety of entities, including "not only civil aviation regulations and procedures but also State national security and intelligence gathering activities."

In order to facilitate improved information sharing, the ICAO acknowledged it "now has an important role to play... to ensure the right information reaches the right people at the right time."

The ICAO presented the following steps to be taken to address air safety concerns over conflict zones.

ICAO with support of its industry partners will:

-- Immediately establish a senior-level Task Force composed of state and industry experts to address the civil aviation and national security aspects of this challenge, in particular how information can be effectively collected and disseminated; -- Submit the Task Force findings as urgently as possible to a Special Meeting of the ICAO Council for action..

At the request of industry partners, ICAO will also address:

-- Fail-safe channels for essential threat information to be made available to civil aviation authorities and industry; -- The need to incorporate into international law, through appropriate UN frameworks, measures to govern the design, manufacture and deployment of modern anti-aircraft weaponry.

Senior leaders from ICAO, International Air Transport Association (IATA), Airports Council International (ACI) and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) participated in Tuesday's discussion.

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