Global aviation body sets up safety task force after MH17 disaster

A woman takes a photograph of wreckage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), Donetsk region July 26, 2014. The United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is setting up a t
A woman takes a photograph of wreckage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), Donetsk region July 26, 2014. The United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is setting up a task force to address security "gaps" that led to the crash of a Malaysia Airlines jet on July 17. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - The United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is setting up a task force to address security "gaps" that led to the crash of a Malaysia Airlines jet on July 17.

Flight MH17 was carrying 298 passengers and crew when it was shot down by a surface-to-air missile missile while crossing eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian rebels are fighting government forces.

The high-level task force to be set up within a week will comprise among other members, representatives from ICAO member states, airlines and security agencies.

A key focus will be to develop a mechanism that will allow the industry to better gather and disseminate information that will help airlines assess the risks associated with flying over conflict zones, said ICAO president, Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, at a news conference in Montreal. Canada on Tuesday following an urgent industry meeting.

Mr Tony Tyler, chief executive and director-general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), stressed that it is the "moral" duty and "prime responsibility" of all governments to ensure the safety of innocent people by sharing with the global aviation community information that could potentially affect the industry's safety.

ICAO general director Raymond Benjamin said in a prepared statement on behalf of ICAO and IATA, as well as Airports Council International (ACI) and Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) said: "We would like to jointly express our strong condemnation of the use of weapons against civil aviation. The downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17 is unacceptable."

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