Last week’s FAA notice to airmen (Notam) restricting U.S. operators from flying in the Damascus Flight Information Region, which includes all of Syria, is further evidence the agency is watching airspace over the world’s hotspots more closely since the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in June.
The new Notam replaced an earlier one that only “strongly advised” U.S. operators against avoiding the airspace. The FAA said the Notam is based on an updated risk assessment, as well as the fact that no operators have expressed interest in flying through the region.
“Armed extremist groups in Syria are known to be equipped with a variety of anti-aircraft weapons that have the capability to threaten civilian aircraft,” the agency said in a news release. The FAA also said opposition groups have successfully shot down Syrian military aircraft using these anti-aircraft weapon systems during the course of the conflict and have previously warned civilian air carriers against providing service to Syria.