MH17 Crash Prompts Airlines to Call for Better Weaponry Control

Jul 29, 2014 11:12 pm ET

July 30 (Bloomberg) -- The global airline industry asked governments around the world to improve control over deployment of anti-aircraft weapons after a Malaysian Airline System Bhd. plane was shot down earlier this month over Ukraine.

The International Air Transport Association also asked the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization to ensure governments provide airlines with more information to help make risk assessments, IATA said in the statement yesterday. ICAO, which met with industry and regulatory leaders in Montreal yesterday, plans to form a task force to address the lapses in security that contributed to the Flight 17 downing July 17.

“MH17 has demonstrated that powerful and sophisticated anti-aircraft weaponry is in the hands of the non-state entities,” IATA Chief Executive Officer Tony Tyler said in a statement. “There is no international law or convention that imposes on states a duty to manage the design, manufacture and deployment of anti-aircraft weapons. MH17 shows us that this is a gap in the international system which must be closed.”

A surface-to-air missile supplied by Russia and fired from territory held by the rebels shot down the Malaysian jetliner, killing all 298 people on board, the U.S. has said, stopping short of alleging direct Russian involvement.

Separatists probably mistook the passenger jet, which was flying within a common commercial routing 1,000 feet (305 meters) above a government-imposed no-fly zone, for a Ukrainian government troop-transport plane, U.S. intelligence officials have said.

‘Unacceptable’

The incident is “unacceptable,” said Raymond Benjamin, ICAO’s secretary general. ICAO has an important role to play to ensure the right information reaches people at the right time, he said in Montreal yesterday.

When asked about what power ICAO has to convince nations to be more vigilant, the organization’s president, Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, responded: “Not much.”

“We depend on the free will of the states,” Aliu said.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration last week banned its carriers from flying to Tel Aviv for the first time since the 1991 Gulf War after a surface-to-surface rocket landed 1 mile from Ben Gurion International Airport. The FAA lifted its ban after about 36 hours.

The meeting yesterday included the heads of ICAO, the Airports Council International, IATA and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization.

--With assistance from Andrea Rothman in Toulouse, Frederic Tomesco in Montreal and Alan Levin in Washington.