Today, October 25, 2014, marks 100 days, since Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 777-200, performing as flight MH17, crashed on July 17 near Donetsk, Ukraine. The international investigation of the causes of this devastating aviation disaster is now desperately in need of more facts than conjectures.
A narrative of the MH17 aviation disaster from a Russian documentary released this week alleges the Boeing 777-200 was shot down by 30 millimeter cannon fire and an air-to-air missile attack, according to several news accounts, including Business Insider on Tuesday, October 21.
Few clear answers have been determined about what caused the MH17 aviation disaster. War-torn conflict in the eastern Ukraine border has stalled international experts in fully conducting a complete investigation that is conventionally done with such aviation disaster events.
Normally in these kinds of transparent investigations, the massive wreckage of the MH17 Boeing 777-200 airliner should have been immediately gathered within days of the July 17 incident. The debris should have been meticulously collected and transported to a large hanger to re-assembled the Boeing 777-200 airliner to the best of our ability in order to identify and access the fullest extent of the airliner’s massive damage.
Without this standard investigative procedure, we are left only with pictures of the wreckage, the flight data recorders recovered from war-torn Rebels, amateur videos taken moments after the doomed plane fell across miles of eastern Ukraine farmland, and eye-witness accounts of the MH17 incident.
What Really Happened to the MH17 Boeing 777-200 airliner?
All contact with Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was lost on the early morning of July 17 at 13:20 Zulu (9:20 ET), when the transponder radar data became unreliable at 13:18 Zulu (9:18 ET) into what was supposedly was a routine flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
Referring to the New York Times, “Flight MH17 was flying on a route that had remained open and active at higher elevations throughout the conflict in Ukraine. It had been closed up to 32,000 feet, but the Boeing 777-200ER airliner was traveling 1,000 feet above that. Hours before the crash, Russia had announced its own airspace restrictions near eastern Ukraine, closing below 32,000 feet the route Flight MH17 would have taken through Russia.”
MH17 was cruising along at 33,000 feet (10,000 meters) in the safest phase of flight with 298 souls aboard. Suddenly, the aircraft exploded.
Specifically, the Boeing 777-200 airliner fell between Krasni Luch in Luhansk region and Shakhtarsk in the neighboring region of Donetsk, after being reportedly hit by a missile over the rebel-held territory, says Breaking Travel News (BTN).
“Witnesses reported that Flight 17 broke up in the air near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine. The wreckage from the crash was strewn across farmland in an area as large as six square miles,” the New York Times shows.
MH17 crashed immediately over eastern Ukraine near the Russian border on July 17, killing all 283 passengers and 15 Malaysia Airlines crew on board. The Boeing 777-200 was on route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, when it crashed. Emergency workers immediately found 196 bodies at the site, according to reports from BTN.
A total of 193 Dutch nationals and 38 Australian nationals were on board Flight MH17. Malaysia had 44 nationals on the flight, and the remains of 42 of them have been brought back to Malaysia so far. Besides Malaysians, nationals from the Netherlands, Australia, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, the Philippines, Canada and New Zealand were among the 283 passengers and 15 Malaysia Airlines crew on board MH17. Most of the additional victims remains have since been recovered and returned home to their loved ones.
Most recent news reports account the remains of 284 of the 298 victims on board MH17 have been identified at the Military Medical Centre in Hilversum, Amsterdam, according to The Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice news release on Friday, October 24.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said Malaysia would continue with its own safety investigation and criminal probe into the MH17 aviation tragedy through the Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), alongside the Dutch team of safety investigators, including further assessments into the preliminary report of the Dutch Safety Board.
“We hope the report can help in obtaining sound evidence to bring the criminals to the international court,” he said.
CNN International on Saturday, July 19, said the MH17 crash site is “the largest crime scene in the world.”
According to Business Insider, Ukraine and the West have presented evidence alluding to their preliminary take that pro-Russian separatists shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 with an advanced computerized Russian-built Buk missile system.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense began on July 21 laying their case of culpability on the West.
The Russians allege MH17 detoured from its usual course just as a Ukrainian military fighter flew overhead, all the while a U.S. satellite hovered above Ukraine overseeing everything. In addition, Russia asserts that Ukraine had four SA-11 Buk missile systems on the ground in separatist territory, but the Buk “or any other weapons” were not delivered by Russia.
The U.S. quietly holds since July 21 that it had “detected an increasing amount of heavy weaponry to separatist fighters crossing the border from Russia into Ukraine.” The U.S. continues to gather “information indicating that Russia is providing training to separatist fighters at a facility in southwest Russia, and this effort included training on air defense systems.”
Meanwhile, Russia’s Defense Ministry continues to retort back their military did not detect the launch of any missiles near MH17’s flight path, and challenges the U.S. to share images “if they have them.”
Russian authorities also challenge the Ukrainian government, alleging one of Ukraine’s military fighter flew within several miles of MH17. Russia also alleges Ukraine had surface-to-air missiles near separatist-controlled areas at the time of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 17.
An official investigation of the MH17 aviation disaster by the BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence service, alleges the Boeing 777-200 was shot down by pro-Russian rebels using an advanced computerized Russian-built Buk missile taken from a Ukraine military base, according to the German newspaper, Der Spiegel on Sunday, October 19.
BND president Gerhard Schindler, while at a meeting of the Bundestag committee responsible for monitoring BND, said his agency’s “unambiguous findings” were that the missile was fired by “pro-Russian separatists,” Der Spiegel reported and confirmed last Sunday on Aljazeera.
He said Ukrainian recordings had been manipulated, but he also dismissed as false Russian claims that the missile was fired by Ukrainian soldiers, or that a Ukrainian fighter jet had been flying close to MH17, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
German intelligence has strong evidence that Russia has supplied weapons and other support to the separatists,” reports the Australian newspaper, although German intelligence hold that the missile that downed MH17 was not furnished by Russia.
Further investigation into alleged war crimes upon Flight MH17 by unknown perpetrators has been initiated by the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office, a spokesperson conveyed to the German newspaper Der Spiegel last Sunday.
The German intelligence revelation contradicts previous allegations by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the missile was supplied by Russia.
Abbott said in August it was “almost indubitable that the weapon used to commit this atrocity was Russian-supplied,” reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
The Australian newspaper and Aljazerra adding: US Secretary of State John Kerry said on July 19, “an enormous array of facts … point at Russia’s support for and involvement in this effort.”
Kiev pointed to the rebels allegedly saying Moscow armed them, however, both the rebels and Moscow deny any wrongdoing, Aljazeera confirms.
European governments are cautious at this point about who is responsible for the MH17 aviation disaster, reports Aljazeera.
Ground-to-Air Rocket or Military Jet Fighter: Which Downed MH17 is Alleged ‘Untold Story’?
It is generally believed that MH17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile, while flying over war-ridden Hrabove, Ukraine on July 17, 2014. However, the Dutch Safety Board has so far only noted in its preliminary report on September 9 that “a large number of high-energy objects” penetrating the plane had caused it to break up and resulting in the death of all 283 passengers and 15 Malaysia Airlines crew members.
The Board stopped short of making any further conclusions at this point as to where the high-energy objects impacting MH17 originated.
The Board, which is also closely examining MH17’s flight data recorders, is holding off from making any final conclusions until the release of the final report in about nine months.
Some are even questioning did a rocket fired from the ground shoot down flight MH17. Others are alleging did a military jet fire upon the doomed MH17.
Some people believe after viewing portions of the Boeing 777-200 wreckage at the crash site of MH17 near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine, the airliner allegedly may have been penetrated with 30 millimeter cannon fire. Additional conspiracy theorists say the Ukraine Ministry of State Security has thus far supposedly refused to allow any international scrutiny of Ukrainian Buk batteries.
Still others believe, perhaps, there may allegedly be additional evidence of two Ukrainian Su-25 aircraft under the control of the Ministry of State Security flown into the area at the time of the incident. Furthermore, alleged video claims of a missile strike against MH17 revealed a twin-engine aircraft taking a missile hit on the port engine.
This conjecture has not been officially confirmed but, if the aircraft had been shot down by an advanced computerized radar controlled Buk, it would have hit the mid-section of the fuselage of the Boeing 777-200, not the port engine. A hit on the port engine indicates a strike by an infrared targeting air-to-air missile, which would have automatically impacted a heat source, being an engine of the Boeing 777-200 airliner.
Such conspiracy theories further allude the Ukraine Ministry of State Security may have allegedly confiscated Ukrainian air traffic control data, which for unexplained reasons thus far in the post-crash investigation, supposedly had redirected flight MH17 into the war-torn eastern Ukraine area where it was destroyed. Some conspiracy theorists believe The Ukrainian Ministry of Interior has allegedly removed all recordings and recorders from flight control at Kiev’s Borispol Airport.
In search for answers, some continue to ask why did Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 change its path, flying on 1,980 air route (in Ukraine), which becomes A87 secured air route (in Russia). Naturally, the Russian civil aviation authorities had closed A87 and all nearby air routes for airline traffic, because President Vladimir Putin’s aircraft was to supposedly use the secured route A87 on his way back from Brazil on the early morning hours of July 17.
MH17 was diverted more than 200 kilometers to the north from the usual flight path taken by other airliners at the time, the New York Times shows.
The Associated Press reported on July 17, “the Malaysian jetliner that went down in war-torn Ukraine did not make any distress call.”
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Friday, July 18, adding that “its flight route had been declared safe by the global civil aviation body.”
Sadly, Eurocontrol had the Ukrainian war zone open to commercial air travel at the time MH17 was tragically thrown out of the sky. Malaysian officials said ICAO had approved the route the doomed MH17 airliner took. However, this appears to be a misreading of what exactly the ICAO does. ICAO issues advisory only, based on civil airline business decisions taken by delegates, rather than mandating to its members what to do in commercial passenger airline travel.
Detailed Investigation of MH17 Flight Data Recorders Continue
Dutch Safety Board spokesperson, Sara Vernooij, said further examination of MH17 flight data recorders will provide more information about the downing of the plane, including ascertaining the coordinates where the aircraft was shot down.
“A more detailed analysis of the data is also needed before we can say what kind of ‘high-energy objects’ had penetrated the aircraft,” she was quoted saying.
The MH17 black-box data may also narrow down the location where MH17 was hit, and give more information, such as the status of the Boeing 777-200 Trent 800 engines and onboard systems, as well as, the airliner’s altitude, speed, and state of its onboard systems, she said.
The Boeing 777-200 flight data recorders can also assist investigators in determining at the exact time of flight MH17’s safety breach, the position of the airliner’s flight control surfaces, such as the flaps, aileron, horizontal stabilizers, slats, spoilers and rudder.
Spokesperson, Sara Vernooij, added: “However, the process of encrypting the flight data recorders will take time, as it contains binary data (zeros and ones) that needs to be converted into workable data before it can be analyzed.”
“A more detailed analysis of the data is also needed before we can say what kind of ‘high-energy objects’ had penetrated the aircraft,” she said.
Department of Civil Aviation director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said he could not conclusively say if the MH17 black-boxes could show the trajectory of the high-speed object that had shot down the Boeing 777-200.
“I was there in Farnborough in the United Kingdom, when the investigators analyzed the data from both black boxes, Rahman recalled.
“As stated in the preliminary report, there were no abnormalities or warning signs heard in the cockpit voice recorder. The recording stopped abruptly.”
Rahman further commented on the scouring mark under the Boeing 777-200’s left wing, saying that “whether the black-boxes had managed to record the missile impact was subject to several conditions.”
He added: “It depends on whether the missile exploded above or below the aircraft, how severe the glancing blow was to the left wing, and how it had affected the handling of the airplane.”
The Dutch Safety Board anticipates that it will be able to answer all essential questions surrounding the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash inside their final investigation report released about a year from now.
Investigation procedures of the Dutch Safety Board’s Preliminary Report: Crash Involving Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 flight MH17, Harbove, Ukraine, – 17 July 2014, released to the public on September 9, 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.
Brief summary of the Dutch Safety Board Preliminary MH17 Crash Report Findings are outlined here.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, in which 298 souls have been bombed out of the sky, and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, in which 239 souls have vanished out of the sky, now ranks as the largest air disaster in total lives lost at 537 souls, in aviation history, since American Airlines 587 crashed into a New York suburb back on November 12, 2001, where 260 souls perished.
Malaysia Airlines is now in the fog of the greatest dual-crisis in international aviation safety and security history,” I said to Reuters.
Nonetheless, Frans Timmermans, the Dutch foreign minister, vowed on July 21 that his country will not rest until justice is served for the 298 civilians (over half of them Dutch) killed on board flight MH17, the Malaysia Airlines flight which was shot down over eastern Ukraine.
Meanwhile, separating the conflicting legal systems that could possibly bring justice to the 11 nationalities of the victims (including the carrier country, Malaysia), along with Ukrainian law and the conflict of international law begins, as the 12 affected countries came together in The Hague recently over these past three months to discuss coordinating their separate judicial efforts, says an legal analysis in The Economist.
“All this could set a new legal precedent over the question of whether the provision of weapons that can endanger civil aviation requires a higher duty of care by the country which supplies them than more ordinary weapons. But that will be cold comfort for the relatives who will have to wait for justice to be served, if indeed it proves to be possible at all,” The Economist concludes.
Photo Credits: Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200, Registration Number 9M-MRD, which is reported by Malaysia Airlines as the crashed aircraft of Flight 17.
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