FAA issues emergency restrictions after Iranian missile attack

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The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it was closely monitoring events in the Middle East and coordinating with U.S. airlines and foreign authorities about aviation safety after Iran launched a missile attack on U.S.-led forces in Iraq.

The FAA is barring U.S. pilots and carriers from flying in areas of Iraqi, Iranian and some Persian Gulf airspace.

The agency is warning of the “potential for miscalculation or mis-identification” for civilian aircraft amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran. The emergency flight restrictions follow ballistic missile strikes Tuesday on two Iraqi bases that house U.S. troops.

Such restrictions are often precautionary in nature to prevent civilian aircraft from being confused for ones engaged in armed conflict. The FAA says the restrictions are being issued due to “heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the Middle East, which present an inadvertent risk to U.S. civil aviation operations.”

Tehran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles from Iranian territory against at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S.-led coalition personnel, the U.S. military said on Tuesday.

Several airlines had flights over parts of Iraq and Iran at the time.

U.S. carriers are banned from flying at altitudes below 26,000 feet over Iraq under FAA guidance issued in 2018 because of ongoing concerns about threats to U.S. civil aviation throughout Iraq.

They have been banned from flying in an area of Iranian airspace above the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman since Iran shot down a high-altitude U.S. drone last June. No major U.S. airlines fly over Iran at present.

An international aviation team has been activated to support “effective coordination and communication” between airlines and countries as tensions mount in the Middle East after a U.S. drone strike killed an Iranian military commander, global airlines body IATA said on Tuesday.

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