Officials from four international aviation bodies have met to discuss the risks to civilian aircraft in war zones, in the wake of the shot-down Malaysia Airlines flight 17. The event, hosted by the International Civil Aviation Organization, in Montreal, included representatives from air carriers, airports and air navigation service providers. CCTV America’s Kristiaan Yeo reports from Toronto.
MH17 plane was shot down by a surface to air missile while flying over a war-torn section of eastern Ukraine earlier this month. The aviation industry is demanding more consistent, timely information from foreign governments during escalating conflicts.
The last time civil aviation authorities met in Montreal, Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 had just met a terrifying, mysterious end, vanishing off-radar between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing. No-one could have predicted that less than 3 months later, the international community would be meeting here once again to discuss another stricken Malaysia Airlines jet.
Today officials discussed the risks to civilian aircraft in crossing conflict zones, after MH17 was brought down by a surface to air missile, more than 30-thousand feet above war torn eastern Ukraine earlier this month. This meeting was not about who pulled the trigger, but who knew that such weapons were in use on the ground, and who failed to warn Malaysia Airlines and others.
The panelists agreed that it was the job of individual governments to ensure that military risks are properly communicated to those with the power to re-route or suspend civilian air traffic. The urgency of today’s discussions is underlined not just by the ongoing violence in Ukraine. In recent days, tensions in the Middle East have prompted a number of airlines to temporarily halt flights to Tel Aviv. On Tuesday, a rocket struck less than two kilometers from the international airport.
The panel went to great lengths to defend the airline industry’s system of governance, planning and air traffic management. It is a government’s responsibility, they say, to ensure up-to-date information is passed to those in charge of routing airliners. But the very nature of war means it’s not always clear who is in charge of a country and MH17 is a haunting example of what can happen during that information and power vacuum.