U.N. air warning site to publish threats more quickly – Metro US

U.N. air warning site to publish threats more quickly

By Allison Lampert

MONTREAL (Reuters) – A U.N. website launched as part of a global response to the downing of a Malaysian airliner in 2014 will post warnings about potential attacks against aircraft more quickly but only when they come from the country where the threat originates.

The U.N.’s civil aviation agency said on Friday that a country’s warnings about threats to commercial aircraft in its airspace can now be posted immediately on the website.

Countries were previously allowed to post warnings on the site about threats to aircraft occurring in other regions, but only after the affected state was given the chance to respond, which could take as long as 72 hours.

The changes follow a review of the site run by the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization. Countries can now only post about risks to their own airspace or to other regions provided they have the agreement of the other states.

Airlines have pushed for accessible, up-to-date information on risks to civil aviation after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down in July 2014 in Ukraine, killing 298 people.

Ukraine has defended its decision not to close the airspace in the east of the country where the passenger plane was shot down, saying it was unaware that anti-aircraft weapons were being used in the area and that planes could be under threat.

Changes to the site follow criticism from countries like China and Bolivia which have said it risked being used for political motives because states are allowed to post about each other’s affairs.

ICAO does not open and close airspace in conflict zones.

Rather, the agency’s 191 member states “have the obligation to promptly communicate any potential risks” to civil aviation operations in their sovereign airspace, noted Bernard Aliu, president of the agency’s governing council, in a statement.

The ICAO website will now include links to national pages run by member states, which post their own global aviation safety and security risk warnings, the release said.

ICAO sets safety standards that typically become regulatory requirements in its 191 member states.

(Reporting By Allison Lampert; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)