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National Security & Defense

FAA Orders U.S. Airlines to Avoid Iranian Airspace

A United Airlines Boeing 737-900ER takes off from Los Angeles International airport, March 28, 2018. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

The Federal Aviation Administration on Friday ordered U.S. airlines not to fly in Iranian airspace as tensions between the two countries continue to rise.

Escalating Iranian military activities in the region “present an inadvertent risk to U.S. civil aviation operations and potential for miscalculation or misidentification,” the FAA said. “The risk to U.S. civil aviation is demonstrated by the Iranian surface-to-air missile shoot down of a U.S. unmanned aircraft system on 19 June 2019 while it was operating in the vicinity of civil air routes above the Gulf of Oman.”

The “shoot down” the statement referred to came on Thursday, when Iran fired on an unmanned $130 million U.S. military surveillance drone over Gulf of Oman with a surface-to-air missile, further damaging the already-strained relationship between the two countries. President Trump originally ordered military strikes for Friday morning on Iranian targets including radar and missile batteries but abruptly cancelled the order due to concerns about casualties.

Airlines based in Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore, and Malaysia have also suspended travel over Iran. And even before the FAA order, United Airlines issued a statement Thursday night announcing it would cancel flights to Mumbai, India.

“Given current events in Iran, United has conducted a thorough safety and security review of our India service through Iranian airspace and decided to suspend our service between New York/Newark and India (Mumbai) beginning this evening,” the airline said.

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