MH-17 Investigation Results Released
By Sean Fugardi
Live wire Web Editor
Malaysia airlines Flight 17, a passenger plane flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed on July 17 2014 killing all on board. Air Traffic Control lost contact with the Boeing 777-200ER about 30 miles from the ukraine-russia border. According to intelligence sources, the plane had been taken out by a Russian made surface to air missile, the Russians blamed Ukraine. The Dutch Safety Board (DSB) opened an investigation to determine how the 298 people onboard were killed. The findings of this 15 month long investigation were released on October 13, 2015.
The report finds that the plane was downed by a missile fired from the Russian made Buk surface to air missile launcher. This type of missile does not impact the target directly, but rather explodes in very close proximity, showering the target plane with small, distinctive, preformed pieces of shrapnel.
Investigators found these pellets in the cockpit of the plane, as well as in the bodies of the three crew members in the cockpit, who would have died immediately. The entire cockpit fell off the rest of the plane shortly after due to structural damage from the missile. The report states that they “did not find any evidence of conscious actions performed by the occupants after the missile’s detonation”.
As an accident investigation group, it is not up to the DSB to determine blame for the launch, but they did state that Ukraine’s airspace should have been closed off to commercial air traffic. In the weeks leading up to the crash 16 military vehicles had been shot down, and on the day of the crash there were 160 commercial planes that flew over the same area, this led the investigators to conclude that reforms need to be made regarding how civilian planes are treated and reassessing risks involved when flying above a combat zone.
There is a separate investigation going on to determine fault of the incident, namely who fired the
missile. Currently evidence is pointing to the missile being fired from
the Russian backed rebels located about 9 miles southeast of the main debris site, or about 12 miles farther along the plane’s original course. However, Alma
z-Antey, the state controlled company that produces Buk missiles claim that it could not have been fired by Russian forces, because the missile used was an older model that had not been actively used for years. This information, as well as the location specified as the launch site does conflict with the findings of multiple independent groups.
The criminal investigation regarding fault i
s still ongoing, and will likely not be completed this year. The DSB report is limited to neutrally reporting what happened to the plane, rather than who shot the missile. As always we offer condolences to the families of those affected, and we hope that they have the answers they seek soon.
Image of reconstructed cockpit courtesy of New York Times