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FAA keeping Americans safe in the skies?

The world mourns the victims of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17.  There but for the grace of the FAA go we Americans?
The world mourns the victims of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. There but for the grace of the FAA go we Americans?Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images

The FAA expanded its prohibited fly-over list after the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over the Crimea.

The FAA alerted against U.S. flight operations over Crimea since April, but not until Flight 17 met its fate did Eastern Ukraine join five other hotspots to avoid in the air.

The U.S. government is now declaring the fatal air space off limits – after the fact. While the FAA warned the airlines about operating over Eastern Ukraine, airlines were free to operate over the area at their own discretion. Such discretion was shown by at least one U.S. carrier, namely Delta, whereas the rest were free to fly the fated path if they chose.

CTV News reported the FAA posted “active special notices” for pilots on its website in April warning pilots to review current security and threat information when flying in other regions of Ukraine besides Crimea, and to “exercise extreme caution due to the continuing potential for instability.”

This appears to have put decision making in the hands of the pilots. And, one wonders what is meant by “extreme caution” when someone fires an SA-11 at your plane.

The FAA had not instructed U.S. airlines to actually avoid the hostile area, so it was only through luck and the discretion of the airlines and their pilots that it was not a U.S. plane that was taken down.

The government was not out in front on this, and the FAA strikes Americans as casual, if not unconcerned, about their safety in the skies.