Ban Extended: No-fly zone over Crimea and eastern Ukraine

13:33 Oct. 25, 2016

No-fly zone over Crimea and eastern Ukraine

An FAA Air Traffic Controller works in the Dulles International Airport Air Traffic Control Tower in Sterling, Va., Sept. 27, 2016 (AP photo)

US extends ban on flights to Simferopol and Dnipropetrovsk flight information regions

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has extended the prohibition on U.S. civil aviation flights in the Ukrainian Simferopol (UKFV) and Dnipropetrovsk (UKDV) Flight Information Regions for all U.S. air carriers.

"The FAA finds this action to be necessary to address a continuing hazard to persons and aircraft engaged in such flight operations," the agency said in a statement.

Read also European air safety body confirms safety of flights over Black Sea, Crimea remains closed (update)

Explaining the reason for the decision, the FAA cited high political and military tensions between Ukraine and Russia. Special attention was paid to the current situation in eastern Ukraine, where "there is an ongoing risk of skirmishes in the area and a potential for larger-scale fighting in eastern Ukraine involving combined Russian separatist forces, which could result in civil aircraft being misidentified as a threat and then intercepted or otherwise engaged, as demonstrated by the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on July 17, 2014."

"These combined forces have access to a variety of anti-aircraft weapons, to include man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) and possibly more advanced surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) that have the capability to engage aircraft at higher altitudes. Separatists have demonstrated their ability to use these anti-aircraft weapons by successfully shooting down a number of aircraft during the course of the fighting in eastern Ukraine in 2014. More recently, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) unmanned aerial systems (UASs) also have been shot down by surface-to-air missiles and small arms ground fire, and brought down with GPS jamming in the Dnipropetrovsk," the document said.

The ban extension takes effect October 27 and will stay in place for two more years until October 27, 2018.

The FAA emphasised it would "continue to actively evaluate the area to determine to what extent U.S. civil aviation may be able to safely operate therein, and what adjustments may be appropriate if the risk to aviation safety and security changes."

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