UK pilots seek urgent meeting with ministers on air safety

UK pilots seek urgent meeting with ministers on air safety 

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) has demanded “an urgent meeting” with UK ministers to discuss safety in the air following the shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines flight.

Balpa welcomed yesterday’s announcement that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) intends to establish a new task force to look into airspace safety, but said: “We are a long way from a solution.”

The association said of ICAO: “The UN body has at least acknowledged there is a problem with the current system that is supposed to protect passengers and crew from becoming targets.“ However, it warned: “Groups such as the one announced are often slow and ponderous. So we are asking what can be done now.

“We are calling on the UK Government to show leadership in ensuring the safety of UK passengers whichever airline they are flying with and wherever in the world.

“Balpa is seeking an urgent meeting with ministers to progress a proposal of a joint Department for Transport and Balpa summit on the issue.”

The pilots’ association said “the same level and quality of data, intelligence and guidance” are currently not shared among all airlines and pilots.

“There appear to be variations in the quality, extent and usefulness of intelligence between different airlines, agencies and countries,“ Balpa added.

And it said: “Pilots need to know when they plot flight paths that the guidance on safe areas is independent of any interests other than flight safety.”

Balpa general secretary Jim McAuslan said: “It’s reassuring that the UN aviation body and airlines accept there is a problem with the lack of clear, uniform rules and information guiding pilots on when they should not fly over conflict areas.

“What we need now is action from the working group.

“The current system allowed 298 passengers, pilots and crew to become targets in a war and pilots want to see a solid and serious solution to stop this happening again.

“We will be asking the British government to lead the way.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly

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