Malaysia Airlines tragedy: hypotheses analysis


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On June 17th, at approximately 4:20 p.m. Kyiv time, a passenger Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down over Donetsk oblast in Ukraine, which was executing flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala-Lumpur.

A number of hypotheses have been posed after the tragedy, some of which blamed the Ukrainian side for what happened. StopFake attempted to analyse some of them.

Hypothesis: Ukrainian dispatchers led the plane using an altered route

According to a number of media, the flight deviated from its standard route, after which it flew over the military action zone. For example, LifeNews writes:

Fallen Boeing deviated from its course.

For unknown reasons the pilots decided to change their flight direction over Ukraine.

Malay Boeing 777 deviated from its course by dozens of kilometres not long before it fell near the Ukrainian-Russian border. Three days before the same Amsterdam-Kuala-Lumpur flight flew over eastern Ukraine using a special air corridor for civilian aviation.”

In reality the flight used route L980, which up until now had been the most popular for flights over European and Asian countries. That planes frequently flew over this exact territory can be proven with graphs of other flights.

Malaysia Airlines tragedy: hypotheses analysis ~~

Malaysia Airlines tragedy: hypotheses analysis ~~

Malaysia Airlines tragedy: hypotheses analysis ~~

Malaysia Airlines tragedy: hypotheses analysis ~~

Besides, in its official press-release, Malaysia Airlines emphasised numerous times that the route chosen for the flights was deemed safe for flying by all profiling organisations. Here is a part of the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s address posted on the Malaysia Airlines website:

Malaysia Airlines tragedy: hypotheses analysis ~~

Besides, The New York Times cited Eurocontrol and the Federal Aviation Administration in writing that several hours before flight MH17 took off, Russia closed off over a dozen airways at various altitudes.

Malaysia Airlines tragedy: hypotheses analysis ~~

Hypothesis: Ukrainian dispatchers forced the plane to go lower than the norm writes:

Ukrainian dispatchers forced the shot-down liner to lower its altitude

The most important news today. Malaysia Airlines claimed that the Boeing pilots lowered their altitude on demand of the Ukrainian dispatchers before the crash. It is unclear why Ukraine gave such orders. It is also unclear why the Ukrainian side decided to lay the Boeing’s route 300 kilometres more to the north than usual. Over the regions where the most vigorous military action between the Ukrainian army and the rebels was underway. Now the entire world expects explanations from Kyiv. The Ukrainian government will be unable to distance themselves from the catastrophe by announcing that they have nothing to do with it. It is Ukraine who is responsible for what happened, as the country over which the Boeing was flying at that moment.”

The only thing true about this statement is that the plane was flying below the presumed 35 thousand feet, in particular, 33 thousand feet. It is also true that the Ukrainian dispatchers prescribed it to fly at this particular altitude. However they did not lower it, as some media claim – if one is to glance at the flight record on, it can be seen that the plane was first flying at an altitude of 31 thousand feet, and went up to 33 thousand over Ukrainian territory.

Malaysia Airlines tragedy: hypotheses analysis ~~

The route over Ukraine was deemed safe by international organisations starting an altitude of 32 thousand feet. This is what The New York Times has to say about this:

Malaysia Airlines tragedy: hypotheses analysis ~~

Besides, other planes also frequently flew over this area at an altitude of 33 thousand feet. For example, KLM flight KL809 Amsterdam-Kuala-Lumpur, on the night between July 15 and 16:

Malaysia Airlines tragedy: hypotheses analysis ~~

What is more, had the Ukrainian government wanted to shoot down the plane, its descent from 35 to 33 thousand feet (from 10,668 to 10,058 km) would have been unnecessary – the Buk-M1 system which is presumed to have shot the aircraft is able to reach targets at an altitude of 22-25 kilometres.

Hypothesis: the target of the missile was Vladimir Putin’s jet

Russia Today cited Interfax in caiming that the missile that shot down the plane was Ukrainian, and its probable target was the jet of the Russian president Vladimir Putin. The reason for such a hypothesis was the fact that both flights passed over the same point above Warsaw.

Source: the target of the Ukrainian missile might have been Vladimir Putin’s flight

The possible target of the Ukrainian missile that hit the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 may have been the jet of the Russian President, reports a source in Russian Aviation. Flight “Number One” passed by the Malaysian liner over the same point and echelon near Warsaw.

The Boeing 777 that was executing the flight between Amsterdam and Kuala-Lumpur crashed in eastern Ukraine. 280 passengers and 15 crew members were onboard.

A source in Russian Aviation, on conditions of total confidentiality, reported to Interfax that there is a possibility that the target of the Ukrainian missile, a land-based one or one launched from a military jet, may have been the plane of the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

‘Flight Number One and the Malaysian Boeing 777 intercepted in the same point and the same echelon. This happened near Warsaw on the 330th echelon at an altitude of 10100 metres. Flight Number One was there at 4:21 p.m. Moscow time, the Malaysian plane – at 3:44,” explained the source. According to him, the outlines of the planes are similar in general, as are the linear sizes, and the colour is practically identical at a sufficient distance.”

This article also notes that the colouring of both planes is similar, which is why they can be confused at a distance (how one can see the colouring at an altitude of over 10 kilometres is not explained).

We will answer this claim using an image:

Malaysia Airlines tragedy: hypotheses analysis ~~

As such, StopFake thinks that the accusations against Ukraine based on the aforementioned hypotheses are ungrounded.

Source: StopFake

Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina

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