satellite map of region
As a result of growing tension from the shootdown of a U.S. surveillance drone on Wednesday, the FAA has issued an emergency order creating a no-fly zone in Iranian airspace over the Straits of Hormuz. Aviation safety advisor OpsGroup issued a warning yesterday. (Image: OpsGroup)

FAA Emergency Order Renders Iran Airspace a No-fly Zone

As a result of growing tensions from the recent downing of a U.S. military surveillance drone off the coast of Iran, the FAA has issued an emergency order prohibiting operations by all U.S. civil aircraft in the Tehran Flight Information Region (TFIR). The order creates a no-fly zone "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 misidentification."

The unarmed reconnaissance RQ-4A Global Hawk was flying over the Straits of Hormuz when it was taken down by a surface to air missile (SAM) fired from within Iran. Iran’s account of the incident differs from that of the U.S., which said the UAV was over international waters. Iran claims it was within its airspace.

Aviation safety organization OpsGroup conceded the region has “always been an area of high military activity,” but warned that recently amplified diplomatic conflict between Iran and the U.S. dictate that the missile attack “crosses a threshold” and “aircraft operators overflying or using airports like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah, Muscat, and Fujairah” should take particular warning, citing the danger of misidentification, as well as intentional attacks.

Besides the dangers of aircraft misidentification, OpsGroup warned, "The missile system used by Iran was a domestically built Raad anti-aircraft system, similar to the Russian Buk that was used [to bring down Malaysian Airlines Flight] MH17 [over Ukraine]. Any error in that system could cause it to find another target nearby—another reason not to be anywhere near this part of the Straits of Hormuz."

OpsGroup further warned of the possibility of retaliation by the U.S. in the near future.