Which airlines were flying through Ukraine Airspace? You may be surprised...

MH17 and other airlines in Ukraine airspace

IMAGE: http://www.spiegel.de/


Who else was flying through Ukraine Airspace?

You may be surprised...

An interesting graphic from http://www.spiegel.de/ that claims to show the air traffic through Ukraine airspace in the 7 days prior to the loss of MH17.

Why was MH17 flying over the Ukraine War Zone?

I have received this question more than any other. While I am not in a position to provide an answer, I can provide some insight into the risk-assessment process that many airlines around the world employ.

An airline’s network is under constant scrutiny in both commercial and operational terms. When political unrest or natural disasters occur, they impact upon the ability to conduct civilian airline operations not only into destinations, but entire regions. When a volcanic eruption occurred in Chile in 2011 its plume was swept around the world and grounded aircraft in distant Australia.

For such an event, teams of specialists will gather and assess the situation. They will make the difficult decision to ground flights if need be, or re-direct them elsewhere. They will continue to monitor the situation to ascertain when flight operations can resume. It is an involved process that can be commercially damaging and inconvenient for passengers, but tough decisions are rarely without fall-out.

I am proud to say that the airlines I have been associated with over the last 20 years have all been very thorough and conservative in the interests of safety. I am sure that they have paid a commercial price at times, but it re-affirmed to me that the safety of their passengers and crew REALLY was their first priority.

I am unaware of the risk-assessment processes involved in the case of MH17. Firstly, according to the airline, the aircraft was in airspace that had been deemed safe to fly in by both the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and International Air Transport Association (IATA). They were well within their rights to operate in the airspace and were not alone in choosing to do so.

However, some of the factors to be considered were undoubtedly the restricted airspace below the route and the reason for that restriction and the warnings that had been issued regarding operations in the region. These warnings had prompted other airlines to avoid the Ukraine airspace. There is also the apparent shooting down of other aircraft in the area and the feasibility of flying alternate routes.

As I said, I am unaware of the risk assessment procedures that were employed by the airline. The fact that the airspace is now closed and void of civil activity gives some indication of how it is now regarded. Undoubtedly there were real threats to consider prior to the loss of MH17 and that flight through the area may have been legal, but one must wonder whether it was prudent?

Rest in Peace MH17.

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20-Jul-2014 02:30 PM David Mudge

And does anyone know what altitude they were all flying at?

20-Jul-2014 02:44 PM Colleen Kuypers

These are highly irresponsible decisions on the part of these AIRLINES

20-Jul-2014 11:42 PM Fred Nissen

Reports say they were cruising at 33.000 feet when they were hit.

21-Jul-2014 10:05 AM Greg Williamson

Very surprised at some of these airlines. If it'd not safe below 32,000ft then it's not safe above either. Any number of things can force an aircraft to lower altitude, an Air conditioning pack failure, engine failure, pressurisation problems. Airline flying is supposed to be Fail Safe, that is a failure of any one thing leaves the aircraft in a safe state. Any of the the above failures would have KNOWINGLY left the aircraft in a very dangerous place.

Looking a bit deeper exposes further problems. I know that a lot of the "Western" pilots would not have been happy to fly this route but have done so because in this modern age, pilots still have all the responsibility but little power left. Faceless accountants have the power but are nowhere to be seen when tragedies like this happen.

21-Jul-2014 08:08 PM Cheska

Interesting to see all the flights for the 7 days prior. It would be even more interesting and pertinent to see the very few flights still using that airspace in the 2 days prior. I read that after the rebels had downed a cargo plane at 22,000ft a couple of days earlier, all major airlines except Malaysia and Singapore (and perhaps India?) finally pulled out of that corridor.

Upping the ante to the limit, around the time that MH17 took off, apparently Ukraine (or the rebels?) declared an even more definitive no-fly requirement of some kind. Does anyone know more about this?

Of course we must never slip into blaming the victim. It would seem imprudent, however, for MH to have still been using that airspace.

22-Jul-2014 10:18 AM Chua Hong Hee

Singapore Airlines was lying to the public. This was what they said in their FaceBook posting :

Quote :

Singapore Airlines
July 18
Customers may wish to note that Singapore Airlines flights are not using Ukraine airspace.


22-Jul-2014 06:29 PM Scott

Obviously the airline risk assessments were flawed, but that is a judgement made with hindsight.

But it would be great to get an insight as to how reputable airlines came up with very differing analyses.

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