An inquiry into the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 has concluded this week that the aircraft was downed by a Russian made BUK missile.
The crash 15 months ago killed all 298 passengers and crew on board the Boeing 777 aircraft in Ukrainian airspace which investigators say could have been closed.
The inquiry opens up additional, controversial questions and leaves room for interpretation to shift the blame for the disaster in many directions.
The New York Times reports in detail about the inquiry (access here).
It has been concluded that the aircraft was struck by a Russian-made missile, Dutch air accident investigators said Tuesday.
The findings — based in part on a distinctive shrapnel pattern that was found in the cockpit, near where the missile hit — come from a five-nation investigative team that retrieved and sifted through several tons of debris and human remains and even reconstructed the aircraft as part of its study.
“Flight MH17 crashed as a result of the detonation of a warhead outside the airplane above the left-hand side of the cockpit,” said Tjibbe Joustra, chairman of the Dutch Safety Board.
While the findings stop short of assigning responsibility for the crash, a task that has been left to Dutch prosecutors, they appear consistent with a theory widely promoted by the authorities in the United States and Ukraine: that the plane, a Boeing 777, was shot down by Russian-backed separatists armed with an SA-11, or Buk, surface-to-air missile launcher.
If you interested how such a device looks like, this is what I found online:
The article continues
Russia has vehemently disputed that theory, and it continued to do so Tuesday with a competing presentation, saying that the missile must have been fired from Ukrainian-held territory, and that it was of a type that is no longer found in Russia’s arsenal.
The board was sharply critical of the Ukrainian authorities for failing to close the airspace above the conflict zone. It found that 160 civil aviation flights went through on the day of the crash before the airspace was closed.
“Why was Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 flying over an area where an armed conflict was taking place?” Mr. Joustra asked. “The question was on the minds of many people after the crash. The answer was as straightforward as it is disquieting: Almost all operators were flying over that area. And why? Because nobody thought that civil aviation was at risk.”
There was sufficient reason to close the airspace as a precaution, but “the Ukrainian authorities failed to do so,” he said.
Here are two videos showing the press conference outlining some of the findings.
You have to read the New York Times article in full length to get a comprehensive picture. As expected all the involved parties blame each other and with the political situation in the Ukraine it’s unlikely that there will ever be an undisputed version of the events.
It’s hard if not impossible to really ‘conclude’ anything in this matter. It’s a fact that the plane was shot down by the missile but to blame Russia for the tragedy is a bit too easy. The missile system might be of Russian origin however that isn’t relevant in my opinion. Almost any industrialized nation produces weapons systems. The question is where these systems decommissioned from the Russian Army and how did they get in the hand of the rebels that shot down the plane.
It is laughable that Ukrainian officials can constantly lift their fingers, absolve themselves of any responsibility and in this case saying they ‘had been unaware that antiaircraft weapons were being used in the area’. It sounds more like the Ukraine wanted to continue to collect overflight fees from the carriers while disregarding safety aspects.