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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.




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