US carriers, pilots need Defense Department approval for Kabul evacuation flights

FAA issued a notice to airmen prohibiting certain flights in the Kabul region this week

U.S. carriers and pilots can conduct relief flights from Kabul as long as they have prior approval from the Defense Department, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said.


Flights into Hamid Karzai International Airport, where Afghans desperate to escape the country breached security and rushed onto the tarmac earlier this week, "must obtain prior permission from the U.S. Department of Defense," the FAA said.  

The planes are prohibited from flying over Afghanistan without approval, according to the federal agency.

"Due to a lack of high altitude air traffic control services, U.S. operators and pilots must receive authorization from the FAA to overfly Afghanistan," the FAA said in a statement.  

A NOTAM, a notice to airmen with information essential to personnel concerned with safe flight operations, is frequently issued to pilots of important safety and operational information about airspace and airports, according to the FAA. 


The FAA issued a NOTAM prohibiting certain flights in the Kabul region this week, which applies to any U.S. aircraft operator, whether carrying passengers or cargo, according to the FAA but it does not apply to Department of Defense aircraft. 

Meanwhile, educated young women, former U.S. military translators and other Afghans most at-risk from the Taliban appealed to the Biden administration to get them on evacuation flights as the United States struggled on Wednesday to bring order to the continuing chaos at the Kabul airport. The turmoil has seen Afghans rush the tarmac. In one instance, some apparently fell to their death while clinging to a departing American C-17 transport plane.

Nearly 6,000 people had been evacuated by the U.S. military since Saturday, a White House official said Wednesday night. Biden and his top officials said the U.S. is working to speed up the evacuation before one of the last windows of escape from the Taliban threatens to close by Aug. 31. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.