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January 3, 2020

Advisory issued again: US fears militants may target its aircraft in Pakistan

Top Story

January 3, 2020

American Airlines aircraft. Photo: File

WASHINGTON: The US Federal Aviation Administration has re-issued its advisory regarding territory and airspace of Pakistan for aircraft on the ground and operating at low altitudes, including during the arrival and departure phases of flights, fearing attacks from militant or extremist groups.

The notice issues to Airmen, otherwise called NOTAM, says that there were continuing risks to US civil aviation operations in the territory and airspace of Pakistan. Such notices were issued in the past as well.

Without changing much language from the previous notices, the FAA advised US civil aviation to "exercise caution when operating into, out of, within, or over the territory and airspace of Pakistan.

“With the ongoing presence of extremist/militant elements operating in Pakistan, there is continued risk to US civil aviation from small-arms fire, complex attacks against airports, indirect weapons fire, and anti-aircraft fire, any of which could occur with little or no warning."

In previous notices that FAA had maintained that cross-border tensions in the Kashmir region could escalate with little or no warning and may result in temporary airspace restrictions being issued by the air navigation service providers responsible for managing that space.

"While, to date, there have been no reports of man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) being used against civil aviation in the territory and airspace of Pakistan, some extremist/militant groups operating in Pakistan are suspected of having access to MANPADS. As a result, there is a potential risk for extremists/militants to target civil aviation with MANPADS. Some MANPADS are capable of reaching a maximum altitude of 25,000 feet above ground level," the notices from last year and the year before said.

The latest notice made little changes from its previous language advising NOTAM to exercise caution during flight operations.