UK & World News

  • 30 July 2014, 1:00

Call To Share Intelligence After MH17 Downing

Aviation chiefs from across the world have called for countries to share intelligence about possible threats to passenger planes more effectively.

It comes after flight MH17 was shot out of the sky over eastern Ukraine, killing nearly 300 people.

The Montreal meeting, hosted by the UN's International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), was attended by officials from the airline, air traffic control and airports industries.

In a joint statement they said: "The downing of MH17 is unacceptable.

"We have met at ICAO ? with a collective resolve to urgently review the issues and potential responses to be pursued.

"As a first step, States have been reminded by ICAO of their responsibilities to address any potential risks to aviation in their airspace.

"We recognise the need for information and intelligence that might affect the safety of our passengers and crew.

"This is a highly complex and politically sensitive area of international coordination, involving not only civil aviation regulations and procedures but also State national security and intelligence gathering activities."

But when Sky News asked Civil Aviation Navigation Services Organisation director general Jeff Poole what powers the aviation industry had to compel countries to be better at sharing this information, he said: "The short answer to that is zero power when it comes to legal and institutional pressure.

"(But) I think we have a huge amount of moral power coming out of the MH17 incident. It is unacceptable and inexcusable when some other parts of government or agencies have information which could prevent that. That's what we need to address."

Malaysia Airlines was just one of a number of carriers flying over Eastern Ukraine on a recognised route, in open airspace, acting on advice that the path was safe above a certain height.

But others, like British Airways and Qantas, had chosen to avoid it.

The industry continues to believe that unless airspace is closed, airlines and their pilots must make the final decision about where and how to fly.

Airports Council International director general Angela Gittens said that better intelligence sharing is a matter of "connecting the dots more effectively".

Ms Gittens said that air passengers should be reassured they are safe in the skies.

The Montreal group also called for ICAO to address international law governing the use of anti aircraft missiles.

It said it would convene a high level task force designed to come up with some solutions to the many problems it had highlighted.

International Air Transportation CEO Tony Tyler said that although billions of people fly safely each year, MH17 was a "wake-up call".

He told Sky News: "It's certainly identified a gap in the system. The system works well, it has done for years, but now we've identified a gap, all of us must work to fix it."

 

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