This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
The U.S. aviation authority has issued an emergency order banning U.S. carriers from flying in an overwater area of Iran-controlled airspace following Tehran’s downing of an unmanned surveillance drone in the region.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on June 20 said U.S. operators were prohibited from flying in Iranian airspace over the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman.
The agency said it was concerned about the escalation of tensions and military activity near high-volume civil-aircraft routes, along with Iran’s willingness to use long-range missiles with little or no warning.
The FAA also said on June 20 said that flight-tracking applications had shown that the nearest civil aircraft was operating within around 80 kilometers of a U.S. Global Hawk drone when it was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile this week.
“There were numerous civil-aviation aircraft operating in the area at the time of the intercept,” FAA said.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said it had shot down a U.S. “spy” drone that had turned off its tracking equipment as it flew over the southern province of Hormozgan — saying the flight was a clear crossing of “our red line.”
However, the U.S. military says the pilotless surveillance aircraft was over the Strait of Hormuz in international airspace when it was shot down.
Heightened tensions between Iran and the United States over the shootdown and other recent issues have raised fears of an armed conflict in the region, although both Washington and Tehran have said they are not interested in starting a war.