The six most dangerous airspace areas in the world


The tragic downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on the border of Ukraine and Russia last Thursday has opened up a whole new can of worms for nervous fliers: which countries’ air spaces should be avoided and are airlines sticking to the rules?

It is suspected that the Boeing 777 was shot down by pro-Russian separatists, killing all 298 people on board.

An interesting article on the Wall Street Journal’s The Margin blog reveals that there are currently six countries the FAA has prohibited US airlines from flying over.

Here is a list of the prohibited areas as well as reasons for airlines avoiding them:


US commercial flights are not allowed to fly north of 12 degrees latitude in Ethiopia’s airspace or the adjacent Mandera Airstrip in Kenya.

Reason: its proximity to war-torn Somalia


Which brings us to the actual country in question. US commercial aircraft are not allowed to fly at or below 20 000 feet over Somalia.

Reason: A rife civil war has rendered the country unstable and dangerous. It’s also plagued by pirate attacks reported as far as 1 000 nautical miles off the coast.


Similar to regulations regarding Somalia, US commercial airlines are not allowed to fly below 20 000 feet over Iraq.

Reason: Active insurgent groups have seen to burgeoning violence and instability, on the increase since 2007.


US flights are prohibited from entering Libyan airspace.

Reason: Security in Libya is unpredictable with many military weapons, including antiaircraft, in the hands of everyday people.

North Korea:

FAA prohibits U.S. flights from entering airspace over Pyongyang west of 132 degrees east longitude.

Reason: North Korea is known for testing ballistic missiles without any warning.


Airlines haven’t been allowed to fly over Crimea since April.

Reason: Political unrest and instability. After the crash of MH17, the FAA expanded the advisory, prohibiting any flight operations over eastern Ukraine.

Other countries the FAA advises commercial airliners to avoid include Afghanistan, Congo, Egypt, Iran, Syria and Yemen.



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