ALEXANDRIA, Virginia — Flight Safety Foundation is calling on all countries to adhere to established guidance on civilian aircraft flying through conflict zones following the tragic downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 in Iranian airspace.
“We continue to express our sympathies to the families and loved ones of the innocent victims,” said Dr. Hassan Shahidi, president and CEO of the Foundation. “The shooting down of a civilian aircraft operating in civilian airspace, whether mistaken or not, represents a flagrant violation of international law and an irresponsible attack on the safety of international civil aviation. Under established International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) guidance, it is the responsibility of the state civilian aviation agency to close its airspace and provide timely risk information to airlines during military conflict. Iran’s civilian authority appears not to have followed the guidance, which would have prevented this tragic outcome.”
The government of Iran has said it was responsible for “unintentionally” shooting down the Boeing 737-800, citing “human error.” Missiles were fired on the aircraft, which was “mistaken” for a cruise missile during a period of heightened tensions in the region. All 176 people aboard the aircraft were killed.
Past military conflicts have resulted in similar tragic outcomes, such as the mistaken downing of Iran Air Flight 655 over the Persian Gulf by the U.S. Navy in 1988, killing 290 people on board.
After Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down in 2014 while flying over Ukraine, killing 298 passengers and crew, the Foundation’s then-chairman led an international task force on civilian aircraft operating in conflict zones. This led to ICAO establishing roles and responsibilities for states, airlines, air navigation service providers and other stakeholders so relevant and timely information could be shared among states and airlines and effectively acted upon to maintain safe operations. The Flight 752 tragedy underscores the importance of adherence to this guidance by every stakeholder.
The Foundation calls on the international community to reaffirm its commitment to protection of civilian aircraft and to strengthening the existing guidance and awareness so that this tragedy does not occur again.
About Flight Safety Foundation
Flight Safety Foundation is an independent, nonprofit, international organization engaged in research, education, advocacy and communications to improve aviation safety. The Foundation’s mission is to connect, influence and lead global aviation safety.
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