The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted FedEx Express permission to install a high-tech missile defense system on some of its planes.
According to an FAA proposal filed on Friday, the system would employ laser beams to detect and shoot down heat-seeking missiles.
The FAA may allow FedEx Express permission to install the technology on some Airbus A321-200 planes if certain conditions are met.
FedEx Express has a global presence, especially in places where there is ongoing violence and western targets may be targeted.
In recent years, the FAA has received many reports of civilian aircraft being targeted by what are known as’man-portable air defense systems,’ or more frequently known as rocket launchers.
FedEx Express’s proposed device would fire an infrared laser at an incoming heat-seeking missile, disrupting the missile’s capacity to follow the heat of the plane and, presumably, throwing it off course.
The FAA is leaning toward approving the device, but it is concerned that an unintentional operation could endanger humans.
El Al, the Israeli flag carrier, is considered to be the only commercial airline to equip its planes with a missile defense system, albeit El Al’s system relies on obsolete flare technology to deflect missiles.
El Al made the decision to install missile defense systems on its planes two years after an attack on a Boeing 757-300 operated by sister Israeli airline Arkia as it took off from Mombasa, Kenya, in 2002.
As the plane rose out of Mombasa, two MANPAD missiles were launched at it, but they miraculously missed, and all 261 passengers and 10 crew members were uninjured.