Sep 092014
 

THE HAGUE – Dutch Safety Board of The Netherlands has just released moments ago on September 9, 2014, its preliminary MH17 investigation report of the causes of the Boeing 777-200 crash in war-torn Hrabove, Ukraine on July 17, 2014, in which 283 passengers and 15 crew members died on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17’s Boeing 777-200 en route from Amsterdam, The Netherlands to Kuala Lumpur.

Photo Credit: Taken on July 28, 2013, at Shanghai Pudong Airport, by Steven Richardson, aviation analyst at FlyersPulse.com, of Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200, Registration Number 9M-MRD, which is reported by Malaysia Airlines as the crashed aircraft of Flight 17.

The document entitled, “Preliminary Report: Crash Involving Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 flight MH17, Harbove, Ukraine, – 17 July 2014,” contains factual information obtained from safety investigative teams having accessible evidence of the MH17 crash site, including on-board flight records and radar stations, MH17 black-box flight data, as well as, satellite imaging and other visual sources. Additional information on the Dutch Safety Board report release along with a flight MH17 aviation disaster timeline can be seen in The Guardian (U.K.) live update given moments ago.

The largest number of 196 passengers on board flight MH17 were Dutch. As a result of international protocols and norms in aviation crash events, involving safety and security breaches, The Netherlands has taken the international lead in the overall safety investigation and findings report of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. The safety board promises to publish its final MH17 crash report within the twelve months from today.

Safety Board official spokeswoman Sara Vernooij emphasize earlier today to Itar-Tass that the council stresses that the preliminary reports and final reports will have “definite differences” in overall findings and actions of the ongoing MH17 crash investigation.

She said Safety Board officials were “aware of the hopes that the public quarters, including the media pinned on this document but the problem was that only the first data produced in the course of investigation had been made public.”

“This meant that the preliminary report would shed some light on the causes of the tragedy but many questions would remain open,” Vernooij said.

Due to war-torn conflict in the eastern Ukraine region, the international safety investigators have not visited the Hrabove, Ukraine MH17 crash site enough as they would wish in order to fully complete their careful work. However, Vernooij said “there was no acute need in that visit, as experts could do a careful investigation and draft the final report without it, although a study of certain fragments of the jet lying on the ground and getting confirmation of certain data might still be desirable.”

The Dutch Safety Board coordinates investigation of the tragedy as of July 23 on the basis of an informal agreement with the Ukrainian side. The group of international investigators consists of aviation safety and security representatives of The Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, United States, Russia, and Ukraine.

Investigation procedures of the Preliminary Report: Crash Involving Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 flight MH17, Harbove, Ukraine, – 17 July 2014 comply with the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The Dutch Safety Board’s main objective is to establish the causes of the MH17 crash and to offer recommendations for safety of international commercial passenger flights.

The Dutch Safety Board stresses inside its preliminary report that the safety council does not have any authority to “apportion blame” and to “place responsibility for the tragedy” on any nation or specific group or persons. The Board further adds such issues must remain within the scope of the Dutch prosecutorial authorities.

A couple of critical overarching questions are addressed inside the Dutch Safety Board preliminary report:

  1. Why was Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 777-200 airliner performing its flight MH17 precisely across the much-troubled war-torn Harbove, Ukraine region?
  2. Why wasn’t the passenger manifest released sooner in the aftermath of the MH17 crash event and during the early investigation period of the MH17 aviation disaster by the international safety team of investigators?

The Dutch Safety Board anticipates that it will be able to answer these essential questions inside their final investigation report released a year from now.

Brief Summary of the Dutch Safety Board Preliminary MH17 Crash Report Findings

General Information

Aircraft Type and Registration: Boeing 777-2H6ER, 9M-MRD

Number and Type of Engines: 2 x Rolls-Royce Trent 892B

Location: Near Hrabove, Ukraine

Date and Time (UTC) 17 July 2014 at 13.20 hours

Type of Flight: Scheduled passenger flight

Persons on Board: Crew = 15 (4 flight deck crew, 11 cabin crew); Passengers = 283

Injuries: Crew = 15 (fatal); Passengers = 283 (fatal)

Nature of Damage: Aircraft destroyed

Crew

According to the information received form Malaysia Airlines the crew was properly licensed and had valid medical certifications to conduct the flight.

Aircraft

According to the documents, the aircraft was in an airworthy condition at departure from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, there were no known technical malfunctions.

MH17 Black-Boxes

No evidence or indications of manipulation of the recorders were found.

No aural alerts or warnings of aircraft system malfunctions were heard on the Cockpit Voice Recorders. The communication between the flight crew members gave no indication of any malfunction or emergency prior to the occurrence.

The engine parameters were consistent with normal operation, during the flight. No engine or aircraft system warnings or cautions were detected.

No technical malfunctions or warnings in relation to the event flight were found on the Black-Box Flight Data Recorder data.

Air Traffic Control and Airspace

At the time of the occurrence, flight MH17 was flying at a flight level of 33,000 feet in unrestricted airspace of Dnipropetrovs’k in the eastern part of Ukraine. The aircraft flew on a constant heading, speed and altitude, when the Flight Data Recording ended. Ukraine air traffic control then immediately issued an emergency that restricted all access to the airspace below flight levels of 32,000 feet.

The last radio transmission made by the crew began at 13.19:56 hours and ended at 13.19:59 hours UTC.

(Note: Ukraine local time – Eastern European Daylight Saving Time – was 3 hours ahead of UTC, that is UTC+3).

  • At 13.19:53 hours, radar data showed that the aircraft was 3.6 nautical miles north of centerline of airway L980, having deviated left of track, when Dnipro Control directed the crew to alter their route directly to waypoint RND due to other traffic. The crew acknowledged at 13.19:56 hours. At 13.20:00 hours UTC, Dnipro Control transmitted an onward air traffic control clearance to proceed directly […], no acknowledgement was received.

The last radio transmissions made by Dnipropetrovs’k air traffic control center to flight MH17 began at 13.20:00 hours UTC and ended at 13.22:02 hours UTC. The crew did not respond to these transmissions.

No distress messages were received by the Dutch air traffic control.

According to the radar data, three commercial aircraft were in the same Control Area as flight MH17 at the time of the safety breach occurrence. All were under control of Dnipro Radat. At 13.20 hours UTC the distance between the closest aircraft and MH17 was approximately 30 kilometers.

Damage

Damage observed on the forward fuselage and cockpit section of the Boeing 777-200 airliner appears to indicated that there were impacts from a large number of high-energy objects from outside the aircraft.

The pattern of damage observed in the forward fuselage and cockpit section of the aircraft was not consistent with the damage that would be expected from any known failure mode of the Boeing 777-200 airliner, its engines or systems.

The fact that there were many pieces of aircraft structure distributed over a large area, indicated that the aircraft broke up in the air.

Conclusion

Based on the preliminary findings to data, no indications of any technical or operational issues were found with the aircraft or crew prior to the ending of the black-box flight data recording of MH17 at 13.20:03 hours UTC.

The damage observed in the forward section of the Boeing 777-200 airliner appears to indicate that the aircraft was penetrated by a large number of high-energy objects from outside the aircraft. It is likely that this damage resulted in a loss of structural integrity of the aircraft, leading to an in-flight break up.

Ongoing Further Investigations of Flight MH17 Crash

This report is preliminary. The information must necessarily be regarded as tentative and subject to alteration or correction, if additional evidence becomes available. Further work will at least include the following areas of interest to substantiate the factual information regarding:

  • detailed analyses of data, including black-box flight data recorders and other sources, recorded on-board the Boeing 777-200 airliner;
  • detailed analyses of recorder air traffic control surveillance data and radio communication;
  • detailed analyses of the meteorological circumstances;
  • forensic examination of wreckage, if recovered and possible foreign objects, if found;
  • results of the pathological investigation;
  • analyses of the in-flight break up sequence;
  • assessment of Malaysia Airlines operator’s and State of Occurrence’s management of flight safety over a region of conflict or high security risk;
  • any other areas that are identified during the ongoing MH17 crash investigation.

Additional details inside the complete Dutch Safety Board, Preliminary Report: Crash Involving Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 flight MH17, Harbove, Ukraine, – 17 July 2014, is available here. The reports issued by the Dutch Safety Board are open to the public. This preliminary report and all other reports are available on the Safety Board’s website.

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