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Twenty near missiles fly over Saudi Arabia a year

The international average of such incidents is one to three cases maximum a year

Published: Updated:

Incidents of aircraft passing too close to each other in Saudi airspace have increased to reach at least seven times the international rate, with around 20 incidents annually.

The international average of such incidents is one to three cases maximum a year. Quoting sources of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), Makkah Daily reported on Monday that Saudi air traffic controllers have been warning about this for more than 13 years but have received no real response.

Since 2002, the controllers have been writing numerous letters to the concerned authorities warning of decreasing air safety in the Kingdom. The sources said the controllers were particularly worried that an early warning system that detects when aircraft pass close by each other in the air had not been working for four years now. According to sources, the number of air controllers in the Kingdom has decreased while pressure on them was increasing.

They said the classification of the air sectors in the Kingdom’s airspace has remained static for the last 20 years, even though flight activity was increasing by 5 to 7 percent every year. The sources said the controllers remained without assistants even though GACA had issued a decision in 2009 calling for the appointment of an assistant for every air controller. They said the decision remained ink on paper regardless of its significance for air safety.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Oct.21, 2014.