Qantas to fly over Iraqi airspace despite MH17 attack
AUSTRALIA'S national carrier Qantas says it has no plans to stop flying over Iraqi airspace on its Dubai-London flights in light of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 tragedy.
The Malaysia Airlines plane was blown out of the skies above Ukraine nearly two weeks ago killing 298 passengers and crew including 38 Australian citizens and residents.
It is believed Russian-backed militants blasted the aircraft out of the sky with a surface-to-air missile after mistaking it for a Ukrainian military plane.
Other carriers using the route and, who were in the vicinity of MH17 when it was shot out of the sky while cruising at an altitude of 33,000 feet, included Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways and Lufthansa.
It is understood British Airways and Air France were avoiding the region.
Central Queensland University aviation expert Ronald Bishop, talking to APN Newsdesk after the MH17 tragedy, said it was up to the world-wide aviation industry to ensure passengers had confidence in an airline's choice of flight routes.
"At any given time there are 300 to 400 conflicts happening in the world," he said.
"The industry needs to plan better to avoid these regions."
Qantas chief pilot Captain Dick Tobiano said the airline would continue to monitor the Iraqi situation closely and make any changes needed to ensure the safety of passengers.
He said Qantas' average flight level through this region was between 38,000 feet to 41,000 feet.
"Qantas would never compromise its passengers or crew by flying over an area if we thought it was unsafe," he said.
"That is why we no longer fly over Syria or the Ukraine.
"We receive regular updates on security matters and there is no information to suggest that there is risk to commercial aircraft passing over Iraq particularly at the altitudes we fly."
The US-based Federal Aviation Administration recommends airlines flying over Iraq maintain a flight level above 20,000 feet.