Consequent to the notice to airmen (NOTAM) issued on August 26, the European Aviation Safety Agency has issued a bulletin on conflict zone information highlighting and warning that for planes flying in Kenyan airspace, there is a risk from anti-aircraft weaponry.
The NOTAM which will remain valid until November 11, warns of the associated dangers of flying at an altitude below 25,000 feet in Kenyan airspace and over Kenyan territory, the threat coming from “dedicated anti-aircraft weaponry.”
Airlines have been advised to factor the warning into routine decision risk assessment, however the recommendations made by EASA are not mandatory, though they will remain in place until February 9, 2017. Europe is not alone in its cautionary approach to Kenyan airspace. In February this year a US advisory also urged caution with regard to potential extremist and/or military activity.
According to the US bulletin, “Aircraft may encounter small-arms and other weapons systems, including shoulder-fired, man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). Airports in Kenya have been targeted as recently as 2014 by terrorists and MANPADS were previously used against aircraft in Kenya in 2002.”
A certain amount of confusion surrounded reports that Kenyan airports were put on high alert in February this year against possible al Qaeda-linked terrorist attacks by Somalia-based Al Shabaab.
Al Shabaab has carried out several terrorist attacks within Kenyan borders since the country sent its troops into Somalia fight against the terror group in 2011. Attacks by Al Shabaab include the Westgate mall attack in September 2013 that killed over 60 people, and the Garissa University attack in 2015, where approaching 150 people, predominantly students, were killed.
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