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European civil aviation safety body issues warning against flying into Iran airspace

Iran air defense systems (Hossein Mersadi/WikiCommons)

Europe’s civil aviation safety agency issued a conflict zone information bulletin warning commercial flights flying into Iranian airspace that may be inadvertently targeted by the country’s air defense systems.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the EU body responsible for civil aviation safety, said that “due to the hazardous security situation, and poor coordination between civil aviation and military operations, there is a risk of misidentification of civil aircraft.”

“Due to the presence of various advanced air-defense systems, it is advised to be cautious with the risk associated to civil aviation. The risk to operations is assessed to be HIGH for Flight Levels below 250,” EASA said in a statement.

Flight levels are used to ensure safe vertical separation between aircraft, described by a number which is the nominal altitude, or pressure altitude in hundreds of feet. Therefore, a pressure altitude of 25,000 feet is referred to as ‘Flight Level 250’.

“Operators should take this information and any other relevant information into account in their own risk assessments, alongside any available guidance or directions from their national authority as appropriate,” the agency noted said in its Conflict Zone Information Bulletin, which remains effective until January 16 next year.

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Tehran earlier said that a misalignment of an air defense unit’s radar system was the key ‘human error’ that resulted in the accidental downing of Flight 752 by Ukraine International Airlines in January.

The aircraft was struck by two missiles shortly after taking off from Tehran’s main airport on January 8, killing all 752 passengers and crew on board.

Iran’s air defenses were on heightened alert when the jet was shot down after Tehran earlier hit with missiles bases in Iraq that host American troops stationed there.

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