The Federal Aviation Administration has banned United States carriers from flying aircraft within the airspace above Iran and Iraq. The news comes on the same day that a Ukrainian Boeing 737 crashed shortly after departing from an Iranian airport earlier today.
Yesterday we reported that the German civil aviation authority had issued a restriction to carriers overflying Iraqi airspace. However, this was limited to six routes to the northeast of the country. Now, the US has boosted its flight restrictions in the area as a result of rising tension in the Middle East area, specifically with Iran.
The restrictions on overflying airspace are not entirely new but the severity has been significantly increased. As of yesterday, in Iraqi airspace United States carriers were banned from flying at altitudes below flight level 260. This was due to “the potential for fighting in certain areas of northern and western Iraq between the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS)” according to Special Federal Aviation Regulation 77 as per safeairspace.net.
This was joined yesterday by the civil aviation authority in Germany. The authority issued a warning regarding certain routes above Iraq. Germany’s Luftfahrt-Bundesamt warned that there is a risk to flights below flight level 260.
Today the Federal Aviation Administration has banned certain operations. Primarily, United States carriers are prohibited from overflying both Iraq and Iran at any altitude. Notam KICZ A0001/20 and A0002/20 address the issue as reported by safeairspace.net. However, according to the OPS group, the ban also extends to cover the whole area above the Persian Gulf. This includes other countries’ airspace above the gulf.
#FAA Statement: #NOTAMs issued outlining flight restrictions that prohibit U.S. civil aviation operators from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, and the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. pic.twitter.com/kJEbpPddp3
— The FAA (@FAANews) January 8, 2020
According to the NOTAM, the risk is due to “heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the middle east, which present an inadvertent risk to u.s. civil aviation operations due to the potential for miscalculation or misidentification.”
Affected are all United States pilots and aircraft unless they are being operated by or for a foreign air carrier. Pilots are able to deviate from the NOTAM in the event of an emergency situation if it is deemed necessary. However, as they will likely be avoiding the area, this shouldn’t be an issue.
What do you make of the FAA’s order to avoid the area? Do you agree with it, or is it an overreaction? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.