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Middle East Unrest

Pilots Warn Passengers Over ‘Illusion of Safety,’ Seek Reforms

International aviation agencies should have greater powers to make safety decisions so that passengers can fly with confidence, U.K. pilots said Wednesday after some airlines halted flights to an Israeli airport. The current system, under which individual airlines and pilots assess the safety of air routes, is “not good enough,” said Jim McAuslan, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA). “This risk assessment approach can give an illusion of safety but it is in fact vulnerable to all sorts of influences including commercial pressure. Passengers and pilots want a uniform level of safety, not one that is decided in secret.” He called for greater powers to be given to the U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday issued a Notice To Airman (NOTAM) prohibiting commercial flights at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours because of the risk posed by Palestinian militants' rockets. However, the ruling is only mandatory for U.S.-registered planes. Israeli authorities have not issued any warnings. Some overseas carriers, including British Airways and El Al, continue to fly to Ben Gurion as normal while others, including Air Canada and Germany’s Lufthansa, have suspended Tel Aviv flights as a precaution.

FAA suspends flights to and from Israel 2:43
Airlines routinely fly over hot spots: LeBeau 1:06

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- Alastair Jamieson