On June 1, the U.S. military transferred air space to the Iraq Civil
Aviation Authority. The authority took over the so-called Ali sector or air
space from the ground to 24,000 feet as well as assuming control over all
aircraft on final approach, Middle East Newsline reported.
"The Ali sector is a big milestone because it's the first airspace they
will control down to the surface," Maj. Adam Fiedler, a U.S. military
planner, said. "The [cumulating] transfers are important because they turn
controls of the airspace back to the host nation civilian authorities and
help facilitate our withdrawal from the country."
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Iraq has been assuming an increasing amount of airspace since January
2009. But officials said the latest transfer was the first time Iraq was
given control of takeoffs and landings since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in
"The air space transfer shows confidence in the ICAA's capability to
continue to normalize the air traffic control service in the country," U.S.
Air Force Lt. Col. Gregory Kendrick said. "It also shows improvement in the
capabilities of the ICAA's air traffic controllers and their maintenance
personnel to maintain critical equipment that provides service to civilian
So far, the U.S. military has completed three air space transfers over
the last two years. The latest was in February, when Iraq received the air
space in Samara, about one-third of the country.
Officials said Iraq would receive the remaining two air sectors by
October. They identified the air sectors as Baghdad and Kirkuk, where
the U.S. military remains in control from the ground to 15,000 feet.