USAF Relinquishes More Iraqi Airspace

Airmen in the Air Component Coordination Element-Iraq have handed over control of more Iraqi airspace to the Iraq Civil Aviation Authority. Iraqi air controllers, operating from Baghdad International Airport, are now in charge of the airspace 15,000 feet and above in the nation’s Kirkuk sector—the northern third of Iraq. Previously, the Iraqis had responsibility only for the airspace about 24,000 feet in that sector, while USAF airmen controlled air traffic below that altitude from Kirkuk Air Base. Maj. Jamie Flanders, ACCE-I airspace planner, called the Sept. 1 handover “a very historic occasion.” Come Nov. 1, control of the airspace above 15,000 feet in Iraq’s two other air sectors is also expected to pass to the Iraqis. In 2011, ICAA is expected to assume control of all Iraqi airspace. USAF airmen and US contractors have been training the Iraqis. (Baghdad report by SSgt. Sanjay Allen)