Julian Bray Aviation Security Expert writes: There is renewed critical interest in passenger aircraft flying over and through war and/or conflict zones. My concern is that the matter, seemingly for political and financial reasons, is being gently brushed under the carpet, leaving the public none the wiser when they book air tickets.
Recently EASA issued a report, seemingly with lots of good intentions. but a trawl thorough the first of the regional EASA inspired web sites reveal the information EASA is so keen for us all to share, is available BUT hidden behind a log in process.
Crafty move as the recommendations have been carried out, but none of us passengers can easily view the information. This is one for your MP and particularly your European Member of Parliament, drop them a line.
This is what EASA is saying:
European High Level Task Force on Conflict Zones:
Since the tragic event of the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over the Ukraine, there is a general consensus within the international community that improvements can be made in the way stakeholders share information on risks arising from conflict zones.
As a consequence, in September 2015 the Romanian national authority co-organized with EASA a high level conference in Bucharest to study how to achieve more consistency in the advice offered to airlines and to protect the interest of EU citizens travelling inside and outside Europe.
The participants called for the setting-up of a European High Level Task-Force to respond effectively to risks associated with overflight of zones of conflict or armed insurgency.
There is a clear necessity to take into account, at the European level, the specific problem of the overflight of conflict zones. There is an urgent need to protect civil aviation against many forms of attacks. These attacks can be carried out voluntarily or accidentally, by regular armies or non- governmental forces engaged in combat, involving the use of weapons which can harm civil aviation at cruise altitudes, or during approaches, or while taxing.
While States have the primary responsibility for issuing information, as well as prohibitions and restrictions, concerning overflight in their own Flight Information Region (FIR), it is accepted, after the downing of MH17, that some States will fail to meet their obligation, and it is therefore essential that alternative information mechanisms are available to aviation community.
In the current climate of political unrest in many parts of the world, airlines have expressed a need for a consolidated picture of the safety/security situation.
It has been agreed that a level playing field for all airlines is required to protect all passengers. Operators have vastly different resources available to them. However, all operators and passengers*** should have access to the best available information.
The safety of passengers, and aircraft crews, can be effectively improved if timely and accurate information is made available to all stakeholders. [*** Unfortunately the EASA information is still denied to the public, as users of the regional conflict zone risk websites are restricted to closed user groups requiring special membership].
One of main identified areas for improvement at European level is the need for availability, in a timely manner, of information on a common risk picture, to support National Authorities and operators in their own decision making processes.
Measures need to be taken at many levels to limit the risks posed to civil aviation that stem from regional conflicts zones. The consolidated recommendations made in this report offer a way forward at European level.
Under the auspices of EASA, and coordinated at the European level, an alerting and information system needs to be further developed.
The following actions are therefore recommended:
EU Member States are recommended to set up national systems for addressing Risks to Civil Aviation from Conflict Zone in which relevant information is shared with operators. In addition, EU Member States should cooperate in sharing conflict zone information with the view to enable the development of common EU risk assessments (facilitated by Commission services) and to enable the timely sharing of information on rapidly emerging new threats.
EASA should put in place a process allowing the publication of information and recommendations related to conflict zone risks, based on common EU risk assessments, or based on threat information.
This should be done in close coordination with Member States, taking into account the needs for both consultation and for timely dissemination including for emergency cases.
Intelligence Agencies Actions:
Within the boundaries of a States’ legal structure, the intelligence agencies should support national systems for addressing risks arising from conflict zones and should support the State’s contribution to the sharing of information at EU level on rapidly emerging new threats.
European Commission Actions:
Commission services should facilitate the exchange of risk analysis and the development of common EU risk assessments, with the support from Member States, EASA and the European External Action Service (EEAS).
Operators should make use of available information and recommendations on conflict zones, and incorporate this information into their risk assessment or decision making processes. They should furthermore share own risk assessment information with their national authorities, and are encouraged to share this information with the RCZ Network, and EASA.
JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581 Aviation Expert, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Expert, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476 www.aviationcomment.com