Danger all around
Aviation and global trade are in a state of uncertainty. It is bad for business when the geopolitical situation is simultaneously subject to several new crises. And there are also microscopically small parasitic creatures that benefit from the planetary aviation network.
The country’s flag carrier Malaysia Airlines has been confronted by another tragedy, coming just a few months after its flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared in the Pacific Ocean. Another Boeing B777 was downed over eastern Ukraine. The crash on 17 July of flight number MH17, which was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, not only cost almost 300 people their lives, but also subjected the airline to strong turbulence. An explanation for the accident was quick to hand – separatists. They had already brought down an Ilyushin freighter operated by the Ukrainian air force with surface-to-air missiles on 14 June.
The latest battles waging in Iraq and in Syria – areas that many international carriers have now stopped flying over – added to the impetus to put the subject of aviation security at the top of the industry’s agenda. Thus the International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao) reminded states of «their responsibility to address potential risks to civil aviation in their airspace.» The body has reacted to events by establishing a task force, where state and industry experts will address the civil aviation and national security aspects of the challenge. Icao will convene a high-level safety conference for all member states in February 2015.
Aircraft in conflict zones were not only under threat in the air, but also on the ground in July. Tel Aviv airport, Israel’s gateway to the world, was one of Hamas’s targets, whilst several Afriqiyah Airways, Libyan Air Cargo and Libyan Airlines aircraft became the target of and were completely destroyed by hostilities in the airport in the Libyan capital Tripoli.
And last but not least there is a risk that has been spreading in West Africa since February. The region has been subject to a harrowing outbreak of the Ebola virus disease, which hit Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia first and then moved on to Nigeria early in August. The potential spread of this highly lethal virus to other parts of the world has caused many a public health official a headache recently. Icao and the World Health Organization are coordinating preventive efforts for the industry in a programme called a collaborative arrangement for the prevention and management of public health events in civil aviation (Capsca), a global effort to improve preparedness and responses to public health events that affect the aviation sector.