A year after the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17, Europe’s intelligence agencies remain reluctant to share information that might help airlines detect threats from ground-based conflicts in future, the region’s aviation safety chief said on Friday.
Malaysia Airlines flight 17, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17 last year during fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatist rebels.
The United Nations has introduced a system for centralising the safety notices for pilots already issued across the world, but the European Union’s safety regulator wants to go further.
Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Aviation Safety Agency, has urged the EU’s 28 nations to set up an alert system to process sensitive data and issue warnings to airlines.
It has begun talks with EU military representatives over how such a system would work in practice.
But speaking to Reuters on the anniversary of the downing of MH17, Ky said talks were moving slowly.
“We are discussing with member states how to set up this kind of alert mechanism for airlines,” Ky said in an interview.
“Progress is slow, I have to acknowledge, because we are dealing with organisations which are not really programmed to share information: military intelligence agencies basically.
“It is sometimes a little difficult to convince them that if they have a piece of information, they need to share it with all the European Union members. But we are making progress.”
Ky was speaking as relatives of some of the 298 victims marked the anniversary of the disaster in rebel-held eastern Ukraine.
A European Union official said efforts were focused on getting member states to share risk assessments in an informal way and without revealing where the information was from.
“What we are interested in at the end is to have good advice on specific airspace. We don’t need to know where the underlying information comes from.”
One of the difficulties in getting the various agencies to co-operate to help pilots commercial avoid conflicts is getting everyone to agree what is, or isn’t, a war zone, Ky said.
“I think there is a good understanding of what is needed. Now we need to convince those authorities that they need to be a little more proactive in working with us.”