I would like to make a broader comment on this situation. Controversial it may be, but I can see it very clearly and have strong views on this:
The actual person(s) who launched the missile that brought down MH17 are not the problem in my view and quite irrelevant, sorry. The big picture is more to do with the fact that civilian airliners were flying over a war zone where missiles were in use, with the capability of bringing down such airliners. Arms were also in the hands of persons who have no clear authority/allegiance or command structure and not interested in any rules of engagement or human rights.
Blaming those who fired the missile is like playing with fire and getting burned, or, playing with a snake and getting bitten. You cannot blame the snake! However vast quantities of money and energy are going to be spent finding which snake it was. Why was the airline industry playing with the fire or the snake in the first place? Answers to this question will more quickly return my flying confidence than finding out who were the individuals, or even the sponsors, that shot down MH17.
From my position I am more concerned with complacency and poor decision making, perhaps even greed, in the airline/aviation industry as being the root cause of this tragedy.
The Ukraine (and ICAO) failed to close this airspace until it was too late. Looking back now, closing the airspace before the tragedy occurred was a ‘no brainer’. It seems so obvious, but somehow this chance was missed. Like most things, costs were likely the main reason. Its perhaps a bit unfair to have expected MAS operations to have known the details of what was going on in eastern Ukraine and have made accurately informed decisions regarding routes in that area. ICAO was responsible here, but failed miserably. If missiles in use in the area had capability of reaching aircraft at extremely high altitudes, which it is clear they did, why were passenger’s lives being put at such grave risk? My goodness, other planes had already been shot down! I know there were NOTAMs and advice put out in recent weeks, detailing airspace being closed up to a particular altitude and suggesting a certain level of risk etc, but clearly they were not far reaching enough. Basically the system failed big time. The airspace should have been completely out of bounds at ALL
Looking back now, this was clearly an accident waiting to happen. Why was the chance to avert this sadly it missed?
I feel very sorry for all at MAS in that they have to go through this all again. They have been let down by the ‘system.’ MAS operations could not have been expected to know the details of what was going on in Eastern Ukraine. A ‘bigger’ system should have been there to protect them.
Humans with all their modern technology and knowledge, are very poor at identifying situations where action is needed and directing efforts and energies to situations that warrant it. I see it in my workplace. Time and energy spent/wasted on too many time consuming mainly irrelevant things (in my view) and the big point being missed. Negative trends going unnoticed until it is almost too late to reverse them.
For many months now I have also been concerned with Iraq. Watch flightradar24 or whatever site you prefer, particularly in the early hours (UTC
) any night. Streams of widebodies (hundreds) from the Gulf airports to Europe/USA etc route the length of Iraq daily. I don’t know what missiles are in use there, or what their capabilities are, but I do know that there are persons on the ground who would give little thought to shooting down a civilian airliner. This airway through Iraq (one for northbound traffic, and one a few miles to the east of it for southbound traffic) is one of the busiest, if not the busiest in the world in terms of passenger numbers. I do hope we do not see something similar to MH17 happening there.
These concerns that I have related play close to my heart because in recent months I flew on MH3 LHR
and MH4 KUL
on almost the same precise route taken by MH17 on 17th July. Even when I was flying over Ukraine, serious violence was taking place in the Ukraine and was on my mind as we flew just south of Kiev, and just north of Dnepropetrovsk and Donetsk as did MH17 on 17th July. (I still have the screen shot taken from the on board HD
moving map screen).
I photographed 9M-MRO
a few weeks before the MH370 disaster. Ironically someone looking at my photo said to me that it was not clear due to the resolution whether it was an ‘O’ or a ‘D’. Well now 9M-MRD
has also been lost!!!