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U.S. Transfers Control of Baghdad Airspace Sector; Iraq Now Responsible for All Domestic Airspace

On October 1, 2011, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) transferred management of the Baghdad/Balad Airspace sector to the Iraq Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA).  Iraq’s air traffic controllers are now directing the movement of all aircraft within the area, the busiest and most complex airspace in Iraq.  With this step, Iraq has assumed full air traffic control responsibility for the country’s airspace for the first time since 2003.

The transfer of control of the Baghdad sector was the culmination of a multi-year effort by the U.S. Embassy, USAF, and ICAA to help Iraq develop a self-sufficient, national air traffic control system.  This project is one among many U.S.- Iraq joint initiatives which support Iraq’s economic development and sovereignty under the Strategic Framework Agreement.

What began with the opening of the Baghdad Area Control Center in August 2007 became a steady march toward the complete transfer of the airspace of Iraq from the USAF to the ICAA.  American and British civilian trainers have prepared the air traffic controllers of the ICAA to handle the already increasing air traffic in Baghdad and at Iraq’s five other international airports.  Many international commercial airlines have already re-established service to Iraq.  Although much work remains to be done in order to improve Iraq’s aviation support and communications infrastructure systems, the ICAA has taken a significant  step forward in providing an essential service to the people of Iraq, contributing to the security and stability of the nation, and facilitating trade and travel for a more prosperous future.