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EASA calls for intelligence sharing after MH17 crash

(Please note, this matter is not currently being litigated in Australia)

Less than two months after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine, the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) is urging countries around the world to share their civil and military intelligence with international aviation bodies in order to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

The concept of sharing data to avert air disasters comes in anticipation of the release of the interim report into the crash of MH17. Dutch air crash investigators this week confirmed that the initial report is expected to be released in the next week or so, with the final report expected to be delivered in the summer of 2015.

The reluctance to fly over Ukraine began in early 2014 after the crisis in Crimea escalated. The EASA was the first to issue warnings about the potential risk to passengers of commercial airlines flying over the area through the release of their Safety Information Bulletin (EASA SIB No: 2014-10). Click to read more about the effects of political unrest in Ukraine and Russia on air safety.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) went even further to ban flights over Eastern Ukraine. The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) also advised it’s airlines to avoid the Crimea region and issued a further warning that airlines flying through the Donetsk region should “review current security and threat information”.

On July 14, just days before MH17 was shot out of the sky, Ukraine suffered a string of air attacks at the hands of pro-Russian separatists. This caused authorities in Ukraine to put a bar on all flights under 32.000 feet. Before its fatal crash, MH17 was cruising at an altitude of 33,000 feet, only 1000 feet or 300 metres above restricted airspace.

The catastrophic loss of all 298 lives on board MH17 demonstrated to the wider aviation community that the standards in place for protecting passengers flying over war zones is inadequate.

Executive Director of the EASA, Patrick Ky said “we have to find a more fluid system for sharing safety information”. The EASA proposes establishing an alert system that uses civilian and military intelligence submitted by various countries in order to determine the threat to passengers and airlines flying over affected areas.

The EASA also proposes to publish information about potentially dangerous routes. If air carries choose to fly across these dangerous routes, they will be required to explain their decision to both the EASA and passengers.


Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: September 4, 2014.

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