(MONTREAL) — The United Nations agency that governs civil aviation is creating a task force aimed at improving security measures after the shoot-down of a Malaysia Airlines jet over eastern Ukraine.
In an emergency meeting in Montreal, top officials from four international organizations discussed risks to civilian aviation in conflict zones.
Airlines and international leaders are calling on nations to be more honest and quick with information about the safety of their skies. Some countries argue such releases could jeopardize their national security — but International Air Transport Association CEO Tony Tyler disagreed.
“When considering whether or not they will share information, of course they should if they know something,” Tyler said. “If it is not safe, how can they sit back and watch innocent people threatened in this way?”
The July 17 Malaysia Airlines shoot-down — which left 298 people dead — has drawn attention to airline conflict zones. The air zone where the plane was shot down was not restricted above 32,000 feet, and the pilots followed known protocols.
The shooting has left air passengers wondering if it’s safe to fly. That safety will be addressed at a high-level meeting scheduled for February 2015.
“The world’s airlines are angry. And I suspect the same is true for each of the 3.3 billion people who will board aircraft this year,” Tyler said.
While officials say that a more efficient system is needed, they also expressed concerns about over-regulation.
“We don’t need to throw away 100 years of good experience because of one terrible and tragic incident,” Tyler said. “We’ve identified that gap. Let’s close that gap.”
Investigators remain unable to work the grisly scene of the downed plane. It’s too dangerous, with clashes ongoing between the region’s pro-Russia rebel leaders and the Ukraine government.
“The recovery of the bodies and proper investigation from the event is still being hampered by the activities of people in control of that area,” Tyler said. “It is an appalling situation.”
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