One of the most perplexing questions surrounding the Malaysia MH 17 airline crash over East Ukraine focuses on the flight path of the plane. Specifically, why was the flight so considerably off course, diverting directly over a known war zone.
Going over the documented routes of the previous Malaysian flights from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, and comparing those paths with the tragic MH 17 route shows a significant flight adjustment northeast, directly over the heart of military activity in East Ukraine.
On July 14th, 15th, and 16th, Malaysian Airlines flew the Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur service considerably south of the East Ukraine hotbed of activity.
14th July, 2014 Flight Path
15th July, 2014 Flight Path
16th July, 2014 Flight Path
As seen from the above highlighted routes, the tragic flight that crashed on the 17th of July flew many miles northeast of the usual, past, routes. What is certain is that Kiev air traffic control must have known of the changed flight path over their airspace or even suggested that the Malaysian flight position itself along a more northeast trajectory, which would put it in on course to cross right over a major conflict zone as seen in the map below.
17th July, 2014 Flight Path
For a consolidated visualisation of what the issue is, we refer readers to the tweet from Vagelis Karmiros who has mapped out all the recent MH-17 flight paths as tracked by Flightaware. Vagelis shows that while all ten most recent Malaysian Air flights pass safely south of the Donetsk region, and cross the zone above the Sea of Azov, the July 17th’s MH 17 flight oddly passed straight overhead Donetsk.
— Vagelis Karmiros (@VagelisKarmiros) July 18, 2014
This leaves us with two major questions that need answering…
1. Why did the pilot divert from his usual flight plan to move directly above restricted airspace?
2. What instructions did Kiev air control give the pilot in the minutes before the tragic explosion?
The fact that 10 previous Malaysian Airlines aircraft took a safer, more southerly route throws up a big red flag.
Perhaps this statement from Malaysia Airlines official website sheds some light on Kiev air traffic controllers’ role in the tragic event.
Ukraine’s traffic controllers ordered the Boeing-777 to lower by 500 meters when the aircraft entered Ukrainian airspace, says a statement on the Malaysia Airlines official website.
“MH17 filed a flight plan requesting to fly at 35,000ft (10,660 meters) throughout Ukrainian airspace. This is close to the ‘optimum’ altitude. 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 (10,058 meters).”
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.