Who made the decision that Flight MH17 should fly right above a combat zone when the flight used a more southerly route before? Why did the Ukrainian air traffic controller designate an altitude to flight MH17 that was lower than usual? Why did the Ukrainian authorities close the airspace up to 32,000 ft while the route was declared safe by the ICAO? What are the procedures, who took which decisions, when, and why? Was Flight MH17 lured into a deathtrap?
Was Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur lured into a well-prepared death trap?
Eyewitnesses reported that at least one missile hit the plane that disintegrated in flight, strewing wreckage and bodies over an at least 1,000 x 1,000 meter wide crash site.
If the 19-year-old Boeing 777-200 with a reportedly flawless maintenance record was struck by a missile, the event will have left unmistakable forensic evidence.
Radar records can be used to determine the flight-path of the missile or the missiles, say experts. The Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder will tell us more.
The red flags pointing to a missile are:
1. The good maintenance record, in-flight disintegration;
2. The relatively small parts of wreckage;
3. The relatively intact bodies of the 298 passenger and crew, strewn over more than one square kilometer;
4. No emergency call; What ever happened, happened very fast, came without a warning and had an immediate, catastrophic effect;
5. The plane flew right above the area in Ukraine that has seen the most intense fighting in recent days.
“The likelihood that forensic evidence will be found, that supports the hypothesis that a missile brought down MH17 is above 80 percent” said a professional Danish pilot to us on condition of anonymity.
“The likelihood that it can be determined where the missile was launched from is 75 percent or above”, he said, adding that “none of my colleagues doubts that there was a missile. The question is who fired it, and who is going to get to play the role of the fall guy”.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Eurocontrol and Unanswered Questions.
Several media reported that Ukrainian authorities had closed the airspace up to 32,000 ft. Malaysia Airlines states that MH17filed a flight plan, requesting to fly at 35,000ft throughout Ukrainian Airspace which is close to the optimum altitude. Malaysia Airlines continues:
However, an aircraft’s altitude in flight is determined by air traffic control on the ground. Upon entering Ukrainian airspace, MH17 was instructed by Ukrainian air traffic control to fly at 33,000ft. … In April, the International Civil Aviation Organization identified an area over the Crimean peninsula as risky. At no point did MH17 fly into, or request to fly into, this area. At all times, MH17 was in airspace approved by the ICAO.
When MH17 entered Ukrainian airspace its pilots were reportedly ordered to go to 33,000ft instead of 35,000ft, as requested in the flight plan, which still would be 1,000 ft above the 32,000 ft to which the Ukrainian authorities reportedly had closed the airspace. 1,000 ft; Not much.
To sum this up. Malaysia Airlines was sure that it was flying through airspace that was approved by the ICAO.
This poses a number of procedural questions. Since Eurocontrol operates under ICAO rules we called the ICAO in Switzerland.
Call one got us to a receptionist and on to an expert who supposedly could answer questions. What we got was an answering machine and a promise to be called back. Call two got us nowhere, because nobody picked up the phone; not even a receptionist. Call three got us through to the same receptionist again who now tried to refer to a press release.
Not good enough. A press spokesman? No, not good enough either! An expert? Yes, and please one who can answer procedural questions pertaining MH17! You’ve got it, what was your phone number again? I’ll make sure someone calls you back.
The kind receptionist got our number, but we still didn’t get the call which we are waiting for and that, even though our questions are really very simple and should not be difficult to answer for the ICAO experts.
Answers to these questions would especially be helpful “before” asking Eurocontrol and the Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure additional questions. Here they are, as simple as the get.
Which ICAO protocols does Eurocontrol normally follow to assure that it does not designate airspace to planes, that either has been closed by the Ukrainian government or that is dangerously near such closed airspace?
Which obligations would the Ukrainian authorities have if they closed an airspace below 32,000 ft? Who exactly would have to communicate what, to whom?
Since Eurocontrol and the Ukrainian air traffic controllers, reportedly, designated a flight level only 1,000 ft above reportedly closed airspace; and since MH17 landed in a field, with all of the 298 souls on board killed, possibly due to a missile, I thought that these would be reasonable questions. Questions which should be easy to answer for the ICAO “experts”. Answers to these simple questions would have been helpful before asking Eurocontrol and before asking the Ukrainian government.
The Ukrainian Ministry for Infrastructure, Closed Airspace, Changed Flight Levels, Changed Routes. 298 Dead and A Couple of Unanswered Questions.
We called the Ukrainian Ministry for Infrastructure to ask if they could get us through to someone who could answer some of our questions for our readers or direct us to someone who could.
The first call got us through to a receptionist who registered our phone number, called someone on another line and then tried to connect us to someone who possibly could help.
The call was dropped. We called again, no answer. Third time, no answer. The result was the same the other times so we will try again on Monday; maybe we would be more successful if we called from another phone number?
The questions we wanted to ask the Ministry were also very simple:
1. Which procedures do Ukrainian authorities follow to assure that Eurocontrol and other authorities are appropriately informed about the closure of airspace.
2. Whether there was someone at the Ministry who could help us identify the authority and provide contact details at that authority that was responsible for changing the routes of flights through Ukrainian airspace.
3. In particular, we would like to know who exactly was responsible for changing the route of MH17 from a path just North of Crimea in the days between July 7 and July 15, to a more northerly route on July 16, and to an even more northerly route, precisely across the airspace, that allegedly had been closed to an altitude lower than 32,000 ft. An area that has seen the most heavy fighting in Ukraine in the days before the tragic crash.
4. We would also like to know whether it is correct that the airspace was closed below 32,000 ft, if yes who closed it and why; Who then, would have reported this closure to Eurocontrol, via which channels?
5. What are the regulations that guide communications between the Ministry of Infrastructure, the Ministry of the Interior which is in command of the National Guard and the ADS forces in Ukraine, and the Ministry of Defense, with regard to the safety of airspace?
We will be calling the Ministry of Infrastructure again on Monday. By then, they have probably received our e-mail. We included the screen captures of the flighaware software that documents the changed flightpath, so it should be easy to grasp what it’s all about?
We will also call the ICAO again on Monday, because it would be good to know exactly which ICAO procedures Eurocontrol uses or would be supposed to use in a situation as the one that led to the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17. We will of course also call the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Defense, Eurocontrol, Amsterdam Airport, and others who can help us and our readers answer the question whether MH17 was lured into a trap or not.
The truth is usually very simple. It’s first when someone tries to cover it up, that things become complicated. The families of the 298 victims have the right to be told the truth. It’s as simple as that.