every country that bought anti-aircraft weapons from Russia”…..after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia sold these weapons
systems “to anybody who wanted them” …. missiles on the BUKs…range 82,000 feet…..
Unless you have a rocket that takes you to outer space and back you will face trouble evading a Buk missile…..
Dnepropetrovsk—Planes Not Allowed to Fly at any Altitude
Iraq—Planes Not Allowed to Fly Below 20,000 feet with Exception of Immediate Arrivals and Departures from Erbil International Airport
North Korea—Planes Not Allowed to Fly at any Altitude
Northern Ethiopia—Planes Not Allowed to Fly at any Altitude
Libya—Planes Not Allowed to Fly at any Altitude
Simferopol—Planes Not Allowed to Fly at any Altitude
Afghanistan—Operators Warned Against Attack From Small-Arms Fire and Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADs)
Democratic Republic of the Congo—Operators Warned Against Flying Below 15,000 Feet
Iran: Operators Warned That Iran and the United States do not Maintain Consular Relations
Mali—Operators Warned Against Flying at or Below 24,000 Feet
Kenya—Operators Warned Against Attack from Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADs)
Sinai—Operators Warned Against Flying at or Below 24,000 Feet.
Syria—Operators Warned Against Flying at any Altitude
Yemen—Operators Warned Against Flying at or Below 24,000 Feet
After 9/11 travel became a pain in the neck. We had to discard nail clippers, we drank baby formula milk (yes, really). Then there are people who cannot fly because their name is on a list.
Now with proliferated missiles reaching a range of 82,000 ft, you will always worry about terrorists scattered around the globe who may attack you at any moment. Yet, people will continue to fly (and die).
Permit us a small whine on the side(dish). When we look at the map above (and the discussion, see below) we see no mention of the restricted air-space that China has imposed over China sea (the idea is that flight information has to be relayed in advance, else it may be shot down).
Also, the entire Kashmir (both India-administered and Pakistan-administered ) is shown as disputed territory (which is fine and dandy by us). But when it comes to China, we have Xinjiang, Tibet, and Aksai Chin- nary a dotted line on the map!!!!
On second thoughts, perhaps US Federal Aviation Administration maps are now being printed in China.
The Malaysia Airlines flight shot down Thursday in eastern Ukraine, likely by a BUK missile launcher
operated by pro-Russian separatist rebels, raises an obvious question
among American travelers: How often do passenger airplanes fly over
conflict areas where there are anti-aircraft systems?
The answer is frightening.
make civilian air travel safe and avoid yesterday’s catastrophe in
Ukraine, the Federal Aviation Administration maintains a list of Notices to Airman (NOTAMs)
that place restrictions on commercial flights operated by U.S.
carriers in potentially hazardous airspace. Airspace may be considered
hazardous if it is over an active volcano, near a weapons testing site,
or over an active conflict zone.
But until Thursday night, after the 298 people aboard MH17 were killed, there was not a NOTAM in effect for eastern Ukraine.
Jeffrey Price, an aviation security analyst,
said that the incident is nearly without precedent: “People just
weren’t expecting a military-grade radar from a surface-to-air missile
to be launched at a commercial flight.”
And yet, passenger jets
regularly fly over areas with active surface-to-air missiles. While the
FAA sets the rules for U.S. jetliners, the United Nations-affiliated
International Civil Aviation Organization is responsible for regulating
“At all times, MH17 was in airspace approved by the ICAO,” Malaysia Airlines said in a statement,
adding, “The route over Ukrainian airspace where the incident occurred
is commonly used for Europe to Asia flights. A flight from a different
carrier was on the same route at the time of the MH17 incident, as were a
number of other flights from other carriers in the days and weeks
In April, the FAA issued a NOTAM restricting American
carriers from traveling at any altitude over the Simferopol region of
Crimea, about 350 miles from eastern Ukraine. Thursday night, in
response to the downed Malaysia Airlines flight, they expanded the
warning to include the Dnepropetrovsk flight region covering the
contested area. In addition to new FAA restrictions, both U.S.-based and
international airlines have voluntarily rerouted
many their flights around eastern Ukraine and Crimea; some flight
activity continues to trickle across western parts of the country.
Several of the restrictions in the map above only apply to flights below a certain altitude—usually
under 24,000 feet. This varies according to the situation on the
ground. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, where rebels
possess less advanced rocket technology, the minimum operating altitude
is 15,000 feet, whereas planes flying over ISIS-controlled regions of Iraq must remain above 20,000 feet.
But less than two weeks ago, the Ukrainian government declared
it unsafe to fly over eastern Ukraine at an altitude below 32,000 feet,
because of the presence of anti-aircraft weapons. MH17 was at a cruising altitude of 33,000 feet when it was shot down.
a pilot and FAA inspector for more than 30 years, flew over the same
airspace on Sunday on a business trip to New Delhi. “To be honest with
you, I was feeling insecure because I knew what was going on down
there,” Astre said in a phone call from the Indian capital. “There was
no guarantee that such weaponry wouldn’t go above 32,000 feet. There’s
no shield that would protect you at 32,000 feet.”
While the FAA
now prohibits flights at any altitude over eastern Ukraine, yesterday’s
crash calls into question the utility of FAA warnings in other conflict
zones where planes are restricted from flying at cruising altitudes
below 24,000 feet.
According to Dmitry Gorenburg, a Russian
military analyst at CNA Corporation, BUK systems “are in just about
every country that bought anti-aircraft weapons from Russia.” He added
that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia sold these weapons
systems “to anybody who wanted them,” with the exception of countries
under sanctions from the international community.
The missiles on the BUKs have a range of up 82,000 feet, well within reach of commercial jets flying within FAA regulations.
Former aircraft engineer Peter Marosszeky told the New York Times
that “airlines have not typically worried until now about
surface-to-air missiles reaching planes at cruising altitude, because
only a very large missile with a lot fuel could ascend such a distance.”
While these weapons systems are known to have proliferated among state
actors, it is extremely rare for a rebel group to acquire the technology
and capability to shoot down a plane at cruising altitude.
fact that it is so rare for non-state actors to possess this kind of
weaponry explains why the FAA’s flight-restriction altitudes over
conflict zones are often set below both cruising altitude (32,000-40,000
feet) and the range reached by anti-aircraft missiles (up to 82,000
feet). When asked how they determine a safe altitude, the FAA declined
Keith Mackey, a former pilot and current aviation safety consultant,
says the FAA could do more. “They don’t give you enough information so
that you could actually do anything positive to react to threats. Most
of the time [the NOTAMs] are a cover-your-butts deal, so that they can
say they warned you.”
Mackey said that like all bureaucracies, the FAA is not known for its efficiency. For example, they have yet to lift restrictions
over northern Ethiopia, even though the civil war there ended in 1991.
The fact that restrictions were not imposed over eastern Ukraine until
after the Malaysia Airlines disaster may be indicative of a larger
“There’s gonna be an awakening for sure,”
noted Astre. “I think you’re gonna see airlines be more wary and civil
aviation authorities reacting more immediately then they were before.”