Global Hawk drone. Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Chris Okula
The Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday night issued a NOTAM (notice-to-airman) prohibiting “all US carriers and commercial operators” from flying over the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman, and the Strait of Hormuz which separates them, near Iran’s shoreline, following Iran’s shooting down an American unmanned Global Hawk drone and the Trump administration’s contemplation of retaliatory military strikes.
The FAA said in a press release: “All flight operations in the overwater area of the Tehran Flight Information Region (FIR) (OIIX) above the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman only are prohibited until further notice due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the region, which present an inadvertent risk to U.S. civil aviation operations and potential for miscalculation or mis-identification.”
According to Deutsche Welle, Germany’s largest carrier Lufthansa on Friday suspended flights over the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman, but continues to fly to Tehran, which is some 700 miles away from the sensitive area. The decision was based on the company’s own assessment.
United Airlines suspended its flights between New York and Mumbai, India, as did British Airways, KLM, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas Airways, and Singapore Airlines. All airlines have been rerouting their flights to avoid the area.
The FAA said in a separate release that “There were numerous civil aviation aircraft operating in the area at the time of the intercept” of the US drone, the nearest of which was flying within around 45 nautical miles of the drone when it was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile.