FedEx proposes anti-missile lasers for some aircraft

As tensions in the disputed areas increase, the FAA tends to restrict civilian air traffic around these areas, forcing them to fly less direct routes that cost more in time and fuel combustion.

The Air Line Pilots Association, a trade union that represents FedEx pilots with those of other airlines, did not immediately return a request for comment on the measure. FedEx did not immediately return a request for comment.

Background: FedEx applied to acquire the capacity in 2019. It does not yet own any A321 models, but suggests how the company can tackle its future fleet. Friday’s announcement sets out the proposed technology and seeks comments on it. Because the system is outside the design area of ​​FAA certification, it requires a special condition approval, the statement said. The infrared system must meet the FAA’s airworthiness standards.

It is not uncommon for aircraft flying sensitive routes to have additional defensive measures. El Al Israel Airlines, for example, has anti-aircraft missile technology on board its commercial aircraft. The VC-25s, commonly known as the Air Force One when the President is on board, have both electronic and infrared countermeasures to block or redirect incoming missiles.

There have been incidents with ground-to-air missiles that have hit both cargo and commercial jets passing through hostile areas over the years. In 2003, an Airbus DHL Express cargo plane was hit by its left wing from a shoulder-fired missile and paralyzed its hydraulic system shortly after takeoff from Baghdad, Iraq. The three-man crew was not injured in the incident.

Recently, Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down by more sophisticated military-grade surface-to-air missiles as they took off from Tehran, Iran, in 2020, killing everyone on board.

The technology was earlier tested in some cargo planes in 2008.

What’s next: The “new or unusual design feature” can only apply to the A321-200 model, the FAA said, unless the company applies for additional certification to upgrade other models. The proposed special condition will be published in the Federal Registry on January 18, with comments open for 45 days thereafter.

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