US authorities have extended for another year a warning to US aircraft flying in and out of Pakistan about the possibility of shoulder-fired missile attacks by extremists.
The US Federal Aviation Administration extended a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) warning of the potential for terrorist attacks using man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS).
It said it would re-evaluate the justification for the decision by December 30, 2019.
The NOTAM applies to all US air carriers and commercial operators, urging them to exercise caution during flight operations and to review the latest security and threat information before flying into, out of or above Pakistan.
“There are continuing risks to US civil aviation operations in the territory and airspace of Pakistan due to extremist/militant activity,’’ it says.
“These risks include attacks against airports and aircraft, particularly for aircraft on the ground and aircraft operating at low altitudes, including the departure and arrival phases of flight.
“While there have been no reports of man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) being used against civil aviation in the territory and airspace of Pakistan, there is potential risk for extremists/militants to target civil aviation with MANPADS.”
US advisories or prohibitions are also current for other areas including the Sinai Peninsula, Iran and Kenya as well as obvious trouble spots such as Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and North Korea.
There have been a number of missile attacks launched by terrorists or military forces against commercial aircraft over the decades.
They include Korean Air Flight 007, a Boeing 747 shot down by a Soviet fighter in 1983 with the loss of 269 passengers and crew, and Iran Air Flight 655, An Airbus A300 destroyed by the USS Vincennes in 1988 with 290 passengers and crew on board.
More recently, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in 2014, was hit over Ukraine by a Soviet-made Buk surface-to-air missile launched from rebel-held territory.
All 283 passengers and 15 crew were killed and investigations by an international team are ongoing.