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Safety of civil aviation threatened in conflict zones

Monday - 7/21/2014, 5:02am  ET

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WASHINGTON -- The increase in the number of conflict zones across the world and the amount of weaponry in the hands of militants will continue to threaten aviation safety.

"Civil aviation has always been a target," said Fred Burton, vice president of Intelligence for Stratfor. "You can go back to the heydays of Black September and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Hezbollah and look at the commercial aviation space as a perfect terror target."

Burton says he believes commercial aviation may have to begin looking at anti-missile systems for airplanes, as they did in the early 2000s.

Israeli jets have deployed a new system called Sky Shield, which employs a thermal camera to detect missiles and uses lasers to deflect them.

Ukraine and the separatists accuse each other of firing a surface-to-air missile Thursday at Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur some 33,000 feet (10,000 meters) above the battlefields of eastern Ukraine. Both deny shooting down the plane. All those onboard the flight -- 283 passengers and 15 crew -- were killed.

Related stories on the Malaysian plane:

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