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FAA: Ukrainian airspace off limits to U.S. commercial planes

By John Wagley

U.S. flights are no longer allowed to fly across eastern Ukrainian airspace until further notice, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The “Notice to Airman” declaration is due to the crash of Malaysia Airlines MH17 that killed 298 people yesterday.

The restricted area includes the entire Simferopol and Dnepropetrovsk flight regions. The action expands a prohibition of U.S. flight operations issued by the FAA in April over Ukraine’s Crimean region and the adjacent areas of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. No scheduled U.S. airlines are currently flying routes through this airspace.

The White House has also issued a statement: “The United States is shocked by the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, and we offer our deep condolences to all those who lost loved ones on board.”

The White House also noted the importance of a "full, credible, and unimpeded international investigation as quickly as possible. We urge all concerned -- Russia, the pro-Russian separatists, and Ukraine -- to support an immediate cease-fire in order to ensure safe and unfettered access to the crash site for international investigators and in order to facilitate the recovery of remains.”

The U.S. has offered immediate investigative assistance, including that of the National Transportation Safety Board and the FBI.

“The role of international organizations -- such as the United Nations and the OSCE [Organization for the Security and Co-operation in Europe] in Ukraine -- may be particularly relevant for this effort, and we will be in touch with affected nations and our partners in these organizations in the coming hours and days to determine the best path forward. In the meantime, it is vital that no evidence be tampered with in any way and that all potential evidence and remains at the crash site are undisturbed.”

Many American intelligence officials believe the flight was downed by a surface-to-air missile.

“While we do not yet have all the facts, we do know that this incident occurred in the context of a crisis in Ukraine that is fueled by Russian support for the separatists, including through arms, materiel, and training,” the White House said.

The International Civil Aviation Organization had said the flight route was safe before the Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur flight crashed in Ukraine near the Russian border.

The FAA said its notice will be reevaluated by Oct. 31.

 

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