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Middle East tension: how worried should airline passengers be?

The Man Who Pays His Way: An obsession with risk management has made aviation astonishingly safe


The shortest route on the surface of the planet between Perth in Western Australia and London Heathrow airport begins with thousands of miles of Indian Ocean before making landfall over Sri Lanka. The track clips a southwestern corner of, successively, India and Pakistan, before transiting Iran from end to end – eventually entering Turkey at its eastern frontier.

The straightest route then crosses the Black Sea, slicing across Russian-occupied Crimea before reaching Romania and all the usual European suspects en route to the UK’s busiest airport.

The path taken by the daily Qantas nonstop flight from Australia to the UK, QF9, has never followed exactly this track. The weather informs the pilots about the best course to follow. Geopolitics has an increasing say in their choice: Ukraine is off-limits, of course.

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