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MH17 Report (bbc.co.uk)
190 points by nns on Oct 13, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 140 comments



Video Reconstruction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDiLEyT9spI

At the 10.30 mark you can see the missile impact on the plane.


News article reconstruction: https://archive.is/pmMY2

Large portions of the NYT article were rewritten after first publication this morning.


Wow, thats an amazing video.


the reconstruction is wrong as they depict the missile coming from the front-right and crossing the flight path of the plane. In reality the missile came from the front-left, from the rebels positions much north of the Torez/Snezhnoe (that the report strangely insists on as the point of launch).

The BUK missile shrapnel flies perpendicular to the missile's direction. It is a simple geometric task to show how that shrapnel has also hit the left engine and clipped the left wing with the direction of the shrapnel damage there matching the direction of the damage to the pilot cabin.


Here's the full report. (It's in English)

http://cdn.onderzoeksraad.nl/documents/report-mh17-crash-en....


It's incredible that 61 airlines flew over that area during those days. That day alone, 160 airplanes flew over East Ukraine before MH17 was hit. Even if it's safe to fly at 10k height, what happens if you have problems with your plane, like a failing engine? Next time I fly I'm going to check over which countries we fly.


> Next time I fly I'm going to check over which countries we fly

Can you really get that info before hand(well I guess one can access previous flight plans) ? If the passengers knew that, would have they cancelled their trip ? I certainly would have.

Never the less, the risk assessment was bad and too many people died that day.

Should a war be blamed for being a war?

Or should companies be blamed for being too greedy and put passengers at risk to save a few thousand dollars ? I think the latter makes more sense.


> Can you really get that info before hand?

That question is not new and is rather simple to google, see for instance http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-to-find-the-route-your-plane...

I dislike the message here, which shifts the blame on the victims (the captain who chooses the flight path, and who was killed). The blame belongs with the operators of that BUK system.

(Incidentally, this victim-blaming has been one theme of the Russian troll factories, and this in turn implicates Russian leadership in my eyes.)


This shows exactly why dismissing something as "victim-blaming" is usually missing the point. You can't discuss stupidity of that concept in terms of the most common uses of the phrase, but hopefully people are not as emotionally charged about airplanes getting shot down.

Yes, it's obviously moral fault of whoever operated that BUK system. But flying over an active warzone where planes have already been shot down shows lack of practical wisdom. So while only one side gets to be called evil, the other side can be justly considered irresponsible.


No, not really. Military planes were shot down, yes, but those operated at much lower altitudes. It's damn hard to shoot down an aircraft flying at 10k feet, you need something like BUK to even be able to reach that high. That's why these fly levels are generally consider safe even over (low-tech) conflict areas; this isn't limited to UK.

More readily available AA weapontry is only good against low-flying targets and it was thought at the time that the "rebels" did not have high-end military equipment from Russia. That's an intelligence failure, granted, but not irresponsibility by the airline.


Nobody is blaming them for someone shooting a missile at them, but from here on I am going to check if I am going to be flying over an active warzone beforehand.


While I can understand your reasoning, what will you do if your plane's flight path does take you over a warzone? Will you stay home? Try to persuade the captain to alter the flight path? Try to persuade other passengers not to board the plane?

I think there's 0% chance of your ticket being refunded if you don't show up at the gate, and serious chance of finding yourself on a no-fly list if you do show up and refuse to board. Probably near 100% if you are vocal about why.

Keep in mind that most passengers of MH17 were not business travelers. This was at the start of the summer holidays, so many families were travelling together on a holiday. Even if you would have known the flight path, would you have canceled your family holiday (and lose the money) for the perceived risk? Keep in mind that even that day, 159 out of 160 civil flights crossed Ukraine succesfully.


And: it's not really so easy to define "active warzone". As said, hundreds if not thousands of commercial planes fly over conflict zones every day, successfully.

Just to pick a random example: Flight TK7900 IST-SIN is up in the air right now (19:32 GMT on Oct 13, 2015). For a picture of the route, see this.

http://tinyurl.com/obzlxxv

Over the past few hours, it crossed from Turkmenistan/Iran to Afghanistan a bit north of Herat, crossed the country, passed south of Kabul, then went on to the Pakistani tribal area south of Peshawar, and continued across the hostile Pakistani-Indian border just south of contested Jammu and Kashmir, and then continued over India. There's plenty of conflict in these areas.

Then it was on the Indian Ocean, far away from anyone who could rescue it should something happen to it. Right now it is passing Andaman Islands. If it were forced to land due to multiple engine failure, the passengers perhaps would meet the Sentinelese people.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentinelese_people

And I think Turkish Airlines is perfectly OK to do all this. Should someone shoot down the plane, I know some people would blame the airline. But I would only blame those who shoot it down. It's not okay to shoot down airplanes. Commercial airplanes are not valid targets.


> But I would only blame those who shoot it down. It's not okay to shoot down airplanes. Commercial airplanes are not valid targets.

If only reality worked that way. In real war, everything is a potential target - sometimes civilians get hurt by mistake, other times because one side decides to take advantage of the "rules" above and e.g. hide weapons in hospitals.

In general, if an area of land is a warzone and it's known there are anti-aircraft missiles deployed, and there are confirmed shootdowns of aircrafts in the area, you don't fly over that area. Flying there shows lack of practical wisdom. You're betting lives over desperate people following some arbitrary rules and not making any mistake.

In general, exposing yourself willingly to significant danger is stupid, and if anything happens to you, you can't avoid some part of responsibility.


> if an area of land is a warzone and it's known there are anti-aircraft missiles deployed

But it was not known there was anti-aircraft missile capability until April 14th (a few days before the MH17 crime). You're making the exact logic fallacy that the DSB criticized in its report.

All incidents from before that Antonov downing on the 14th were done using MANPADS (i.e. shoulder-carried missile launchers). These don't reach high altitude. The information about the new capability wasn't relayed quickly enough to commercial aviation authorities (I don't think the DSB identified a reason for the delay).

Instead, the DSB argued that risk assessment for fly/no-fly decisions should not only include known risks, but should also account for unknown risks (say, the speculation that the rebels did have anti-aircraft capability).

(edit: although another source says that the rebels' STA capability was known since June 29th)


That seems unlikely: government planes were being shot down in the area starting in April (22/4 to be exact), months before the incident. Those planes were delivering military supplies and shooting at and bombing the separatists, so it's not like there was no reason to shoot them down. Before the MH17 incident, 17 planes were shot down in that area. As the report puts it "But none of the parties involved made any connection between the military developments and the risk to civil aviation". This is in fact pretty unfair because it doesn't mention that it was (and is) under the authority of the Ukranian government exclusively. Neither Russia, nor any of the separatist organisations could have closed the airspace if they wanted to.

The report is quite clear : the Ukrainian authorities were aware of the threat, and had good reason to close the airspace BEFORE this happened. This is in fact one of the few pieces of blame being laid out here.

That means the only real remaining question is whether the Ukrainian authorities were using commercial flights, and the lives of thousands of passengers as human shields to safeguard their military aviation in the area, were they trying to provoke Russia into shooting down commercial planes or was it merely a monumental fuckup ?


Flying a civilian plane at 10 km on its daily route is not "provocation".

It seems we'll keep seeing every attempt being made to shift the blame on Ukraine, not the ones who actually decided to pull the trigger. Russia is active in stopping an investigation to find out who it was. That tells me a lot.

Passenger planes routinely fly over conflict zones. A plane flying at >10 km cannot be mistaken for a fighter-bomber. Unless the operators of BUK were, well, drunk, which is still what I suspect, but equally irresponsible.


I don't think anyone is really trying to shift the blame. The operators of BUK deserve all the blame they can get. The point is whether or not assign additional blame to people responsible for routing the passenger plane over the conflict zone. Personally I say yes, they should be assigned some smaller but non-zero amount of blame.


I think both sides are to blame here. It's definitely questionable to fly over a warzone with a public passenger aircraft. Sooner or later something like this would have happened.

This doesn't mean the Russians shouldn't have cooperated better.

(BTW I'm Dutch.)


No, it's not "definitely" questionable. Public passenger aircraft fly over warzones all the time, also today.


I'm in no way "victim-blaming" . But I believe Malaysian Airlines are also to blame for the incident.

All I'm saying is the company flying over east Ukraine put its passengers in danger for the sake of saving fuel which I find as disgusting as the attack itself.

You're somehow suggesting that i'm a "putin-bot" and a russian troll which is insulting and ridiculous.


yes there are many sites that show flight plans. Here is flight plan for MH19 this the flight number that now replaces MH17 http://info.flightmapper.net/flight/Malaysia_Airlines_MH_19


Yes, this is pretty incredible. I somewhat can see the Ukrainians being too busy with other things to recategorize their airspace, but the carriers as well as international airtraffic control didn't think to recategorize the airspace, that's a failure of leadership and responsibility.


Officially Ukrainian govt call that Civil War happening in the country as "Anti-Terror Operation". To be clear, rebels occupy territory of 15K square kilometers with population 4M people.

Closing the air space would look like sign of loosing control over situation in country from the official govt side.

So this looks like not "too busy with other things", but more like miserable politics.


Actually, the airspace was closed. Up to 20,000ft, that is. The cruising lanes (10km, 30,000ft) were still open because up to then, the rebels did not have surface-to-air missiles with that range.

Which, of course, is why Russia have been spinning this since day 1. Where did the missile system come from, and who operated it? On that day, both the Russian News and the rebels' twitter account reported downing a (what they thought military) plane. Both items were quickly redacted afterwards.


>the rebels did not have surface-to-air missiles with that range.

they had it since end of June when Donetsk BUK battery was captured. Using those BUKs during the first half of July before the MH-17 the rebels dawned 2 Ukrainian AN-26 transport planes which were flying at about 7km height, much beyond the reach of MANPADs. The MH-17 was flying much north of the civil corridor and the rebels thought that they got another AN-26.

June 29, 2014

Russian source http://www.vesti.ru/doc.html?id=1741703

(In English http://sputniknews.com/voiceofrussia/news/2014_06_29/Donetsk...)

Pro-Ukranian source http://www.unian.net/politics/934238-boeviki-chastichno-zahv...

Somebody's personal twitter mentioning capturing of the BUK systems in Donetsk https://twitter.com/lennutrajektoor/status/48328116547931340...

Read the tweets, people were clearly saying that airlines need to stop flying over Ukraine now.


thanks for those links, although I can't read the Russian ones. Have any of those hits been confirmed? I believe I read somewhere that the first Antonovs were downed using ATA missiles (read: fighter planes), and only the latest AN26 (the 14th of July) using STA missiles.


>the first Antonovs were downed using ATA missiles (read: fighter planes),

no, rebels had never had such capability, i.e. planes and Russia didn't ventured the planes in.

>although I can't read them

There are also some tweets in English down on the twitter page i linked. Also you can Google translate it. The capture of the BUK systems was well communicated on both sides - in Russian and Ukrainian news at the time, before the MH-17. There was also another Ukrainian BUK battery captured in Luhansk, though there weren't much traces of it after that.

This is BBC http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-28299334 on the second AN-26. I remember how in those days we were amuzed at the stupid propagandist version put forward by Ukraine that it was a SAM from Russian territory - it would have needed at least a C-300/400 missile which would be recorded by all the NATO radars/satellites.


If you don't mind me picking your brain about this, here is what I've been able to find from the DSB report (page 183):

"On 6 June 2014, [..] an Antonov An-30B had been downed using a MANPADS at an altitude of less than 4,500 metres near Slavyansk. On 14 June 2014, [..] a Ukrainian Air Force Ilyushin 76MD had been downed during landing at Luhansk [using a MANPADS]. During the weeks that followed, other incidents occurred in which a helicopter (Mil Mi-8TV, 24 June 2014) and fighter aeroplanes were shot down. On 1 July an attempt was made to down a Su-25 UB and on 2 July 2014 a Su-24 was shot at. Both were allegedly targeted by a MANPADS."

Would you say this information is a fairly complete summary, or have there been more (unconfirmed) shootings?

"On 14 July, three days prior to the crash of flight MH17, a Ukrainian Air Force transport aeroplane, an Antonov An-26, was downed in the Luhansk region, [..] was flying at an altitude of 6,500 metres when it was hit [..] according to the Ukrainian authorities the aircraft must have been hit by a ‘more powerful weapon’ than a MANPADS. The Ukrainian government assumed two possibilities: a modern anti-aircraft system ‘Pantsir’ or an ‘X-24 Air-to-air missile’. The authorities assumed that it was a weapon fired from the Russian Federation, because the armed groups would not have such weapons."

I'm curious about the Ukrainian response here. Did they not consider the possibility that the rebel forces would be able to operate their BUK, or was it willfully ignored?


>Would you say this information is a fairly complete summary, or have there been more (unconfirmed) shootings?

the list is a bit short, and if you look at page 182 of the report (or wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Ukrainian_aircraft_los...) you'll see 2 su-25 shot down on July 16. One of them was shot down at 6-8 km altitude. This time Ukraine blamed a Russian plane (which was never sighted nor attacked anything else nor had any other traces left nor there were any other signs of Russian planes in other situations/places. To compare - we know that Russia helped rebels with tanks and soldiers as there is ample evidence of this. You can't hide planes in the age of smartphones/YouTube/twitter/etc - all the aspects of this war are very well documented there).


>I'm curious about the Ukrainian response here. Did they not consider the possibility that the rebel forces would be able to operate their BUK, or was it willfully ignored?

it was the issue of propaganda and responsibility (imagine yourself an officer in the chain of command related to the captured BUKs). 2/3 of their Navy switched allegiance to Russia. Other regular forces also didn't have much enthusiasm for fighting. Ukraine claimed that the captured BUK systems were made un-operational before being captured. Which as far as i know - my general understanding of the situation and various sources i've read - is just not true.


yes, I noticed. I have updated my comment to match :)


Exactly. To the date of accident with Malaysian MH17, rebels shot a few Ukrainian military airplanes with shoulder-launched man-portable air-defense like SA-18 Grouse and SA-14 Gremlin. Ukrainian government did not expect Russia to provide rebels a "Buk" (SA-11 Gadfly), which is totally different thing: a battery of vehicles including standalone target acquisition radar, rocket laucher, transporter/erector, and command vehicle. Obviously "Buk" has a higher range.


Three other commercial aircraft were flying in the area at the time MH17 was shot down. Presumably, any one of they could have been downed rather than MH17.

  EVA Air Flight 88 (Paris to Taipei)
  Singapore Airlines Flight 351 (Copenhagen to Singapore)
  Air India Flight 113 (New Delhi to Birmingham)


the thing that seems to have probably condemned MH17 was that it was flying north of the corridor (check the flight24 data of it). From the rebels' positions (25km north of Torez, ie. 25 km north of where the report puts it) using the BUK launcher vehicle's radar (they didn't have the command&control vehicle with its more powerful 360 radar and the things like transponder identification system, etc...) they could only see the sector about 120 degree in front of them, and giving that sector and the radar working distance, they probably didn't see the other planes (which happened to be flying pretty much inside the corridor).


The problem area was very small in size you would be at most a 150+/- km from an airport in a safe area


the take away is, do not fly over areas of conflict. why the international community allowed it, let alone individual airlines did not take their own action, is beyond me.

On second thought, I wonder if an airline can elect to not fly on certain corridors because they declare a risk?


Not everyone was continuing to fly over Ukraine. Some including British Airways and Air France had already stopped flying over Ukraine months earlier[1] due to heightened risk in the area. Malaysian Airlines decided the risk was worth it.

1. http://www.bbc.com/news/business-28356745 2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaysia_Airlines_Flight_17#Ba...


Why not put responsibility with the group that fired the missile? This is victim blaming.


Just because you put some blame on the victim does not mean you are victim blaming. Victims are not always 100% responsibility free.

Bank tellers are often instructed to comply with the demands of a robber. If the teller instead sets off the alarm, locks the doors, and tries to fight the robber and the teller gets shot, sure, the teller is the victim and the robber should not have shot the teller. But the teller was also taking an unnecessary risk by trying to fight the robbery. If the teller had handed over the money, chances are the robber would have taken it and left without anyone getting hurt.

That is not victim blaming, that is stating the facts. People can take steps to minimize their risk of becoming a victim. If they do not take those steps and as a result are injured in some way, it's prudent to explain how they could have avoided the negative outcome.

Don't shoot down passenger planes flying over your war. But also, don't fly passenger planes over an active warzone.


>Why not put responsibility with the group that fired the missile? This is victim blaming.

the rebels were constantly attacked from the air. They were shooting back using what was available to them - MANPADs and once they captured it in June - BUKs. It is obvious from their celebratory tweets first half-an-hour after shooting down the MH-17 that they were thinking it was one more military transport plane of Ukraine.

Ukraine was using air forces for ground attacks. Obviously they should have closed the airspace, especially after their BUK systems were captured by rebels. That Ukraine was using air forces and that their planes were being shot down by SAMs more powerful than MANPADS was well known as well as it was reported in international news sources too (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-28299334). So airlines shouldn't have been flying there even without Ukraine failing to close the airspace.


I think it's just so unlikely that a group that couldn't be held properly responsible would have AA missiles capable of reaching to normal cruising altitude that it's not normally considered a problem and why MH17 was exceptional. Or, at least, that's how it was explained to me by the captain of a 747 while we were flying over Afghanistan.


That's probably how he rationalized it to himself, given that opposing the airline over this would probably cost him his job. People generally take risks and then tell themselves stories to justify them.


> On second thought, I wonder if an airline can elect to not fly on certain corridors because they declare a risk?

Of course they can. But it could be that alternative corridors also have their risks, or may have a significantly longer flight time.


My brother and my niece will be on the second leg of their journey to South Africa in a few hours. Continuing on from London. They will overfly a couple of areas of conflict.

I dunno how else they could go, though.


Depending on your destination, you will find out that you'll fly over Pakistani tribal regions, Iraq or other unstable areas. Or the Gobi desert or the Arctic ocean. Places where you would not wish to land.

There was nothing particularly strange about flying over Ukrainian airspace, because you don't really expect civilian planes to be shot down, even by rogue militias that are in power in some areas. The very fact that dozens of airlines had been doing that safely all the time that the conflict was there shows that many pilots and airlines did not think there was much risk.

The tragedy here was that there was someone with a BUK system there, and probably that someone was drunk and decided to give a lesson to those blasted Ukrainian fascists. I expect it will be futile to try to get the responsible to a court, because any small fish are already in shallow graves somewhere, to protect the big fish.


The BUK-M isn't something where "someone was drunk and decided to give a lesson" -- it's the Russian equivalent of a Patriot missile battery, with a platoon-sized crew and several support vehicles (radar and command trucks) needed to fire the thing. Other variants have anti-ballistic missile capability and/or nuclear warheads!

It's quite likely the operators mistook the Boeing 777 for a large Ukrainian military transport aircraft. There are echoes of Iran Air Flight 655 here ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_Air_Flight_655


“with a platoon-sized crew and several support vehicles (radar and command trucks) needed to fire the thing” — not really. That Russian thing is actually autonomous: http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-9K37-Buk.html#mozTocId210497 You see? Transporter Erector Launcher _And Radar_. Wikipedia says:

A transporter erector launcher and radar (TELAR) is the same as a TEL but also incorporates part or all of the radar system necessary for firing the missile(s). Such vehicles have the capability of being autonomous, greatly enhancing their effectiveness. With this type of system, each vehicle can fight regardless of the state or presence of support vehicles.

“quite likely the operators mistook the Boeing 777 for a large Ukrainian military transport aircraft” — yeah, I also think so. The important difference with Flight 655 and MH17 is USS Vincennes was there legally. The cruiser wasn’t smuggled to some international terrorists who say they’re independent freedom fighters, like it happened with Buk M1 which downed MH-17.


The question I have is how would the militias acquire such equipment. I'm assuming the answer is either the Russian government gave it willingly or someone within the government wanted to make some money on the side. Either way, it seems like trouble to me.


This still does not prove anything, it could have been the Ukraine military as well, they have (just like any other ex-Soviet country) plenty of BUK missiles.


First, no, they do not have "plenty" of BUK missile launchers, second, the launchers they do have are not parked in the middle of separatist strongholds, and third, it's not the SBU spinning wild stories of fighter jets flying alongside MH17 and sudden course changes by MH17 --- it's the separatists and the Russian Ministry of Defense saying those things, which have been conclusively debunked now by the Dutch report.


1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_Ground_Forces#Army_A...

"Surface-to-air missile systems and complexes of division level are characterized by their long range and firepower and are equipped with surface-to-air missile complexes;S-300V,Osa, Buk, Buk-M1 and Tor."

2. No they did not need to do that, it was enough to park it closer to the zone

3. I am not sure what is this gibberish about, I did not mention anything about SBU or anybody else saying anything.

Thanks for the downvotes, even when you are obviously wrong. It is just showing how much HN lost its way.


No.

The report isolates the region the missile could have been launched from, based on the damage pattern from the warhead's projectiles and MH17's flight path, to a very small number of square kilometers, all of which are firmly ensconced in separatist territory.

These missiles have a fairly short range.

The report and the missile's Russian manufacturer agree about the very limited number of missile models that the warhead could have been mounted on.


"and probably that someone was drunk"

It's a strange assumption. I doubt drunk people ever get to be around Buk launchers (even in separatists' camps)

You should keep in mind that rebels shot down military plane allegedly carrying 40 Ukrainian soldiers (and crew) - month before MH17. This was a serious military transport plane Il-76, not some light planer. They shot other aircraft too. One could imagine that shooting at planes has become norm rather than unexpected at the area.


IL-76 was shot a lot lower and not from BUK missile.

Until MH-17 there was no reason to believe separatists had any high altitude anti-aircraft weapons.


I'm not talking about how it was shot. I'm talking about whether it could be a rational decision (possibly fueled by incomplete knowledge) instead of "being drunk".

It could. They shot other planes before.


The E. Ukr rebels were using shoulder-fired missiles and were firing at planes close to the ground. Quite a different kettle of fish than buk missiles which requires a lot more technical coordination


Once you've got determination to shoot down planes with people inside, getting a bigger gun doesn't seem impossible.


Especially since you're getting good at shooting down low-altitude flights you can expect the enemy to fly higher, at which point getting a weapon with greater range seems prudent.


> You should keep in mind that rebels shot down military plane allegedly carrying 40 Ukrainian soldiers (and crew) - month before MH17. This was a serious military transport plane Il-76, not some light planer. They shot other aircraft too. One could imagine that shooting at planes has become norm rather than unexpected at the area.

Yet Malaysian airlines still thought it a good idea to ignore the rebel-declared no-fly-zone and continue flying through airspace known to have active AA activity.

Honestly, I think we're not blaming the airline nearly enough here.


Going to Japan was a bit unnerving. The flight from the UK overflies Russia. That's not a problem politically, but you fly for hours and hours over Siberia. You can look out of the window and see nothing but icy tundra stretching into the distance. There is absolutely nothing there (3 people per square km), maybe the odd hamlet. If the plane goes down, you'd better hope it catches fire so you don't freeze to death.

I think they avoid North Korea though.

There was some interesting investigative journalism into the BUK theory back in January. https://mh17.correctiv.org/english/


Well, going to Japan from Los Angeles involves flying over the Pacific Ocean for 12 hours or so. Nothing but water.


Flights from places like Amsterdam or Frankfurt to Portland or Seattle go about halfway up Greenland. Same sensation of "it would really suck to have a problem here", but there's nothing to do other than grip the armrests even harder than normal to keep the plane in the air.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore_Airlines_Flight_21

"The airline had installed special lockers on the aircraft to store the corpses of any passengers that died en route, since the flight's routing over the Pacific Ocean and North Pole meant that there were few if any possible unscheduled stops"


It seems some airlines do use the NK airspace. Despite being a horrible place in every regard, it's not exactly a war zone, and Pyongyang has no incentive to shoot down passing passenger aircrafts.

But I think the whole heavily guarded SK-NK border is a no-fly zone: it limits the usefulness of NK airspace greatly, because any plane flying toward Incheon (or some other South Korean airport) from North will have to take a detour anyway.


> The tragedy here was that there was someone with a BUK system there, and probably that someone was drunk and decided to give a lesson to those blasted Ukrainian fascists.

Or, the more likely explanation, they thought it was a military plane like the several they shot down in the weeks prior...


> The very fact that dozens of airlines had been doing that safely all the time that the conflict was there shows that many pilots and airlines did not think there was much risk.

The report disagrees with you. It says that dozens of airlines had been doing that all the time because everybody expected someone else to assess the risk.


The Aviation Herald has a very good writeup: http://avherald.com/h?article=47770f9d/010&opt=0


Can anyone break down how they knew that the missile exploded within a one square metre volume of air, just above and to the front of the plane please?

Do they do it just from the pattern of debris, or do they use other methods as well. I think I got that they can use the microphones in the cockpit to work out the direction the missile fragments came from, but not quite sure on the details.

Thanks in advance!


They triangulated it using the three microphones I guess. Also I guess you can figure that out by looking at the debris pattern because they seem to have a lot of knowledge about the used rocket.


There were actually four microphones - captain, first officer, cockpit and observer (see page 46, Figure 9). Four receivers is sufficient to determine the sound origin at a point in space, with an associated error volume (three receivers only allows you to determine a curve in space).

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multilateration


The problem is complicated if we consider that the missile is moving at supersonic speeds (~mach 3 + aircraft speed).

I don't know much about supersonic fluids. For anyone interested in following this up, here is a paper on "Reproduction of Virtual Sound Sources Moving at Supersonic Speeds in Wave Field Synthesis":

http://www.researchgate.net/publication/230702229


They did that and they also used string to track back from the impact sites to a rough point in space.


They also reconstructed the front section of the plane from the wreckage which indicated where the shrapnel had entered.


I'm interested that the missile effectively missed. Is this the intended method of action, nearby explosion with shrapnel impacts or should the missile have entered the body of the plane in a, militarily speaking, perfect deployment. With such weapons do they choose the point of impact, ie is the cockpit the target, or are the weapons not that "refined".


Intended.

Planes are too fast and too maneuverable. Especially military planes — SAMs weren’t actually designed to down civilians. That’s why missiles have proximity-based detonators, so called “proximity fuze”, to explode at the right moment.

BTW, here’s 8 minutes video about the history of that technology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kq_Uy5hGazc


Good video, thanks.

Summary of video: USA developed the "VT fuze" proximity fuse used initially in ship based AA fire; improved efficacy rates from 2400 down to 400 rounds needed to down an aircraft. First used over ground at the Battle of the Bulge.


It's really well explain on the video linked by nns https://youtu.be/KDiLEyT9spI?t=624



Interestingly, it seems everyone has forgotten CNN top news from mid-July: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/07/15/politics/mh17-pro-russian-... . CNN did spread an outrageous lie, but nobody cares.


CNN did spread an outrageous lie,

Which was?


"Dutch accident investigators say that evidence points to pro-Russian rebels as being responsible for shooting down MH-17, according to a source who has seen the report.

According to the source, the report says it was a Buk missile -- a Russian surface-to-air missile -- that was used, launched from a village in Russian rebel controlled territory. "


I'm not following. Everything in that CNN story seems to line up with the Dutch report, down to the type of missile system used.


Please point to the village name in the report then.


The key finding in the report was that the missile was fired from a specifically calculated area -- shown in red, in figure 62 -- that lay squarely within rebel-held territory. This by itself is quite damning for the pro-Russian side.

Whether the missile happened to have been fired from one of the 3 villages within that area, or from unincorporated territory is basically irrelevant to the report's main conclusions. And whether some CNN reporter, or his editor, may have fudged a bit on this basically irrelevant detail (shortening "fired from an area near village X" to "fired from village X"), even more so.


I'm lost. Can you just state outright what the "outrageous lie" you're referring to is?


The report says it was a Buk missile -- a Russian surface-to-air missile -- that was used, launched from a village in Russian rebel controlled territory.

From which "evidence points to pro-Russian rebels as being responsible" is hardly an unreasonable extrapolation. It's a very reasonable extrapolation, in fact.

So I still don't see where the "outrageous lie" was.


Well, in the first place, this is a Soviet missile. And the main thing, report doesn't say about a party launched it. Provocative language and factual distortions are good friends for mass hysteria but not for objective investigation definitely.


It was all known thanks to Bellingcat since at least 1 year.


Bellingcat's reporting takes for granted that a BUK was used based on a good amount of evidence there there were BUKs in the area and there was a missile fired from the ground. They didn't and couldn't prove that it was what hit and downed MH17, they didn't have access to the physical evidence and flight recorder.

They seem to have done a lot of good work trying to track the launcher down and analysing the evidence that was available to them, though I haven't been following their reporting. Without the physical evidence being analyzed the link between the BUK and the plane was strong but not confirmed.


I fully agree with that, yet they were right since over a year. They do a decent job making the most out of the "open-source" evidence they have access to.


Bellingcat was untrustworthy pseudoscience.


[flagged]


The report did not go into finding out who did it. Both sides own BUKs. It is very difficult to find the truth because all sides are pumping out propaganda. Even the United States is manipulating what we hear for their own political and economic gains.

Here an subtle but strong example : http://www.sott.net/article/302911-Sott-Exclusive-Full-unedi...


Did both sides have the ability to position a BUK launcher so that it was capable of hitting an airliner at 33kft at that precise location, 50 miles towards Russia east of rebel-controlled Donetsk? How seriously are we meant to take this particular controversy?


There were plenty of state controlled land east/south of Donetsk. You can check map here http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-27308526


The maps you're linking to further implicate the rebels (see again the video reconstruction, which illustrates the trajectory the missile took from its launch site, which is not the same as the crash site, placing the missile launch even further from areas of Ukrainian control and even closer to Russia.)

Further, to even entertain this question, you have to believe that Ukraine positioned BUK launchers in the most heavily contested part of the country, in areas which were apparently held by rebels just weeks earlier.

This does not look like a serious controversy. The rebels shot the plane down.


If it is so obvious why do you think the report does not say that?


The report answers that question.


The direct quote from the article: the report does not say who fired the missile


You ask why the report doesn't say who fired the missile. The report explains why. You are right: the report does not say who fired the missile. It merely makes it obvious who did.


They had few seconds to shoot it down. They had to coordinate very well to achieve this.


> It is very difficult to find the truth Well, not for me. I was monitoring the war at that time and I saw a report by Lifenews (pro-Kremlin media) that the rebels shot down Ukrainian AN-26. It wasn't actually that shocking since it wasn't the first time it happened. But then the word about the Boeing came down and, oh my, I've never seen people erase their tweets and videos so fast. But it's the internet, not goverment controlled media, can't really erase everything. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsmVZmSBaEg


> Both sides own BUKs.

Only the Russian side has these BUKs. One of the key findings is which specific warhead version was used. The report doesn't spell out who did it, it does however conclude that a BUK missile from the Russian military shot down the plane. That BUK may have been stolen or on holiday in eastern Ukraine.


> Only the Russian side has these BUKs.

How is that even logical?

These are discontinued older model BUK missiles.

Meaning only a place like Ukraine would have them in any significant numbers.


Both russia and Ukraine operate the specific older SAM (BUK-M1-2) and the missile in question (9M38M1) but I was under the impression that there were different types of warheads and that the warhead in question was only fielded by russia. This seems incorrect though, the entire system in question is still used both by Ukraine and Russia. So the warhead+missile identification does not rule out Ukrainian BUK, however the claim that Russia do not use BUK-M1-2 with 9M38M1 missiles is easily falsifiable, so it's really a very stupid thing to try from the russian side -- recent photos of this system in Russian duty are easy to find. These are discontinued in manufacturing, not in field use.


According to Russian media it's quite the opposite. They say Russia doesn't use the 9M38 missiles any more, Ukraine does.


They are full of it. There are pictures of Putin at Russian military bases standing in front of 9M38M1 missiles!


Those pictures are of Putin on a military base in Armenia that runs joint operations. Both Armenia and Ukraine use 9M38M1, Russia stopped production in 1999 and begin phasing it out.

I'm sure there are a few of these still around here and there, but no one is lying about the production stop that happened 16 years ago (that can be verified many ways).

Those pictures are sourced from - http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/19731

And they are still up.

It's not much of proof of anything.

As far as the other 2 whole pictures at parades, etc, well, that's proof of itself that these missile models are dwindling in numbers and are a rare sight.


I guess I'm having trouble following the logic that says recent pictures of the Russian military displaying these missiles is evidence that the Russian military no longer has them.


The logic is that 3 pictures, with 1 likely being a prop (for use in parades or as a display unit) and 1 likely held by a foreign joint military in Armenia - are not proof of the Russian-side lying.

For every 1 of these decommissioned missiles that Russia still posses, Ukraine probably has 100 (considering it's always been a weapons depot for this type of older Russian and Soviet-era gear).


I think we're moving the goalposts here. Is there any controversy over whether Ukraine has BUK launchers, or use 9M38M1 missiles? Both Ukraine and Russia clearly do.

Nobody forced in anyone in Russia to make the easily falsified claim that they didn't have any 9M38M1 missiles. The only reason it's interesting to establish that they did is that it harms an alibi they weren't forced to offer.

The Dutch report, and a lot of other open-source evidence, makes it pretty unlikely that the Ukranians launched the missile. This is a missile system that consists of several vehicles, one of which is a giant lumbering missile launcher. The missile was launched within an 100km^2 firmly controlled by the separatists. The Ukranian military didn't spirit a missile launcher convoy to a wheat field just a few km south of Snizhne --- a town that Ukraine was bombing --- spectacularly down a jetliner, and then somehow spirit that convoy back to Ukranian-held territory. That is not a reasonable narrative.

I don't see any serious arguments that this was anything other than a tragic accident. No matter who launched the missile, we're all pretty sure they didn't mean to shoot down MH17. The subtext behind Russia's involvement is that they set up a barely-organized irregular separatist militia with a weapons system that was easily capable of shooting down airliners.


I've seen no conclusive evidence that the missile was launched from within any definite area and by any definite side. Both sides have access to those areas, and the control of those areas was always fluid.

The only thing I've seen conclusively is the size of the anti-Russian rederick. Which has been of such giant proportions that less than 2 hours after the crash happened, it was made out to be all Putin's fault, and every event after was spinned that way (example - Keiv was preventing the OSCE access to the area, yet media coverage claimed it was the Rebels).


The report we're commenting on right now demarcates the area, and it's not hotly contested.


Obviously, I don't know who shot the missile.

But when trying to use logic here, I don't see why would Russia shoot the plane. They had nothing to gain. Ukraine? I don't know, I refuse to believe they would deliberately kill hundreds for some advantage. My bet is on the rebels who did it mistakenly. The question is whose BUK they used. One provided by Russia or one taken from an abandoned Ukrainian base.


I don't know how to respond to this comment.

Your earlier comment parroted a line that is apparently popular in the Russian media, that Russia no longer uses the 9M38M1 SAM. But that missile is distinctive, and can been seen in recent photographs at Russian military installations.

I didn't say that Russia shot down MH17. I said that if they're claiming not to use that missile, they're lying. Why? What a weird thing to lie about, that's so easily falsifiable.


Putin's lie about "Russia does not invade Crimea" (Feb 2014) was also easily falsifiable.

Nevertheless he lied about it and his ratings in Russia did not even suffer from it.


Most evidence point in a single direction: The separatists got the BUK somehow from Russia (Stolen/Supplied/Holiday...), and that the downing of the aircraft was a mistake (As you say neither part in this conflict has any interest in downing a civilian jet).

What we should remember here is that "who did it" in this matter is more a matter of who was in command and who provided the hardware, rather than who pushed the button.

This is the most likely hypothesis but there are others. Apart from the craft being downed by Ukraine (Nothing in the report points in that direction), another hypothesis one would be actual Russian personnel, rather than Ukrainian separatists, operating from inside Donetsk. That would be hugely controversial, but hard to prove.


We'll never know 100% but Ukraine controlled the air so only the rebels had motive to shoot down planes, and had bragged about it on social media.

It's possible that Ukrainian forces or someone else had a conspiracy to frame the rebels (if you have a good conspiracy theory, Russian propaganda would love to hear it). But this is very unlikely as it's a high-risk, low pay-off strategy and even Russian leaders are usually not that evil or stupid.


They'd need more than the will to frame the separatists; they'd also have to get a big lumbering BUK launcher right into the middle of a separatist stronghold, sandwiched between Donetsk and Russia, crew it, set it up, launch the missile, and then get the thing out undetected.


> We'll never know 100% but Ukraine controlled the air so only the rebels had motive to shoot down planes, and had bragged about it on social media.

At the time, Kiev was complaining that Russia was sending out spy planes into its territory.

Knowing the state of the Ukrainian military, to me it's much more likely that they mistaken the plane for something it was not and shot it down.


I've just been ignoring news out of Ukraine as there's nobody who I trust reporting on the issues.

Does anybody have an objective news sources regarding Ukraine?

Even the link above looks like Russian propaganda.


Have you looked at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe? They have a few groups in Ukraine and post updates online, though I don't know how much it would be like a news organization's reporting. I was checking it some last year but haven't really looked since. Worth a look.

http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. Here's the SMM's mandate:

    The monitors are mandated to contribute to reducing tensions and to help
    foster peace, stability and security. The Mission engages with
    authorities at all levels, as well as civil society, ethnic and
    religious groups and local communities to facilitate dialogue on the
    ground. The Mission will gather information and report on the security
    situation, establish and report facts in response to specific incidents,
    including those concerning alleged violations of fundamental OSCE
    principles.
http://www.osce.org/om OSCE Observer Mission at the Russian Checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk

http://www.osce.org/ukraine OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine

And here are the daily updates from the Special Monitoring Mission: http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/daily-updates

http://www.osce.org/who And to help you judge the OCSE for yourself, here's their about page. (There are 57 particpating states, including Russia, USA and Ukraine)


It seems "specialists" taught by media know all about the incindent and love to share their "knowledge" in comments.


Being the guy with the most nukes lets you get away with similar things. Nobody was brought to justice here, either. Two commanders did receive medals for their tour there, though.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_Air_Flight_655


this is not even the first time the russian/soviet military has been involved in shooting down a civilian airliner. The last time it was even more blatant and no one did anything https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Air_Lines_Flight_007


How is this relevant? Because country A murders people, country B may freely do so too?


I don't think he / she said anything about it being okay I think he / she was simply saying it's happened before with another powerful country.


I anticipate lot of bluster. The perpetrators perhaps being named but ultimately nothing happening. A lot of nations do not recognise courts higher than their own sovereignty so will not extradite. Especially if they deem the charge to be politically motivated. Right or wrong. Russia will contest this report, and any other.

Basically someone messed up with a borrowed bit of heavy kit and a tragedy ensued. There will be no justice for them or their families. Poor bastards, can only hope the report is accurate and any suffering was brief.


Keep in mind that around 6000 people (maybe outdated number) died from that war so far. I doubt they're getting justice for them or their families either. They might get a scapegoat in some time, however. Even a very guilty one.


Exactly my thoughts too.


> Basically someone messed up with a borrowed bit of heavy kit and a tragedy ensued.

"borrowed" ?


The accusation is that the Donetsk Peoples Republic used a Russian device. Once they'd realised the enormous gravity of their misjudgment they returned it to Russia. So yes. Borrowed.


Russian soldiers on vacation also borrowed surface to air missiles?


I find it really fascinating that they've gone to such lengths to literally recreate a large portion of the plane from the wreckage in order to better understand what happened.

I can't help but think though, why weren't similar measures taken with Flight 93 (Pennsylvania, 2001-09-11) or Flight 77 (Pentagon, 2001-09-11)? I don't wish to allude to any of the many conspiracy theories, but I do find it interesting to see how a "real" crash investigation is done, as opposed to what we've been told about 9-11.


I see you're interested in the history of the 9/11 attacks!

Here's a 600 page report with over 100 pages of footnotes. The first chapter deals with the hijackings. You can start your research there! http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report.pdf

In later chapters, there's a lot of discussion about the terrorist group that planned the hijackings, and not much discussion on missile ballistics. That's because the former happened as a matter of fact, the latter is pure fantasy.


Thanks, I've read much of the report of course. What you notice about the report is that there's a tremendous focus on the build up to the attacks, the context and the aftermath, but it's very light on the technical analysis of the actual event that you would normally see in an air crash investigation - such as what we're now seeing with MH17. Admittedly the two events are hardly comparable, but I stand by my observation that there's a distinct disparity between the amount & quality of information that's being disseminated. There may be perfectly good reasons for that.


In other air crash investigations, the technical analysis is the most important part -- because a technical component failed, or because the type of missile needs to be deduced, etc. In the 9/11 attacks, people intentionally flew the planes into buildings. There is not much to talk about, technically -- the control systems worked as intended, and the technology used by the attackers only got as sophisticated as box cutters.

So what would you like to see? A detailed analysis of all of the ways the plane did exactly what you'd expect? Do you think the onus is on the investigators to disprove conspiracy theories? It's like you want a report called "Why it wasn't a missile: a detailed report on how Flight 93 looks like what you'd expect if terrorists hijacked a plane and crashed it into the ground."

You're asking others to disprove your hypothesis, for which there's no evidence in the positive, while ignoring competing evidence. This is the hallmark of bad conspiracy theories.


I see I'm being downvoted for this. I didn't mean to be controversial, just making an observation about the stark difference between the amount and quality of information that is being disseminated to the public.


You're not being controversial, because there isn't a controversy. There was lots and lots of information disseminated to the public. What do you think was withheld?


Some airplane wreckage was discovered lodged between two buildings in New York.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-22344949




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