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Video - Overflying: the zones that airlines avoid

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After the crash of the Metrojet A321 in Sinai, several companies have decided not to fly over this area of northeastern Egypt. As a precautionary measure, pilots of Lufthansa, Air France, Qatar Airways, and Emirates must now reroute their flight plans to fly around this potentially dangerous area of 23,000 square miles (60,000 km2).

However, the Egyptian peninsula is far from unique. Since last April, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has maintained a “black list”, listing the zones at risk for commercial aircraft. Following flight MH17, shot down over Ukraine, the ICAO requires its 191 member states to issue "risk advisories regarding any threats to the safety of civilian aircraft operating in their airspace."

By "threats", they mean armed conflicts, missile tests, rocket launches, and also volcanic ash clouds, for example. Often, a minimum altitude for overflying these areas is indicated. It is then up to the airlines to assess the risks as to whether or not they should modify their routes. Today, fourteen countries are on the ICAO "black list", to which Sinai, in Egypt, has just been added.

Other hostile areas do exist, but for a number of years have been sufficiently recognised by airlines as areas to be avoided.

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