US bans flights over Iranian-controlled airspace

Federal Aviation Administration prohibits operators from flying close to site where US drone downed

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an emergency order Thursday prohibiting U.S. airline operators from flying over parts of Iran-controlled airspace, Reuters news agency reported. The move comes hours after an American surveillance drone was downed by Iran’s military over the Strait of Hormuz.

The emergency order covers the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman, which has lately become the scene of heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. Iran and the U.S. dispute the drone’s location when it was downed. Tehran maintains the drone violated its airspace while Washington says it was in international airspace.

The aviation agency also issued a separate advisory to operators, saying the nearest civil aircraft was about 45 nautical miles (51 miles) from the surveillance drone that was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system. “There were numerous civil aviation aircraft operating in the area at the time of the intercept,” the agency said, according to Reuters.

The agency said it is concerned about military activity within close proximity to high-volume civil aircraft routes and Tehran’s willingness to use missiles in international airspace. Earlier in the day, U.S. congressional leaders were invited by the White House to a Situation Room briefing on Iran, and President Donald Trump told the public they would “find out” whether Washington would strike back at Tehran.

The U.S. has increased its military presence in the Middle East, deploying a carrier strike force, bomber task force and Patriot missile battery, using threats from Iran as justification for the actions.

Source: Anadolu Agency