MH 17 flew 2000 feet below the altitude that it should have been flying at, and 300 miles off course, it has emerged. The shooting down of the aircraft is similar to an accidental shooting down of a passenger
airline by the American Navy, when it confused such craft with an F-14 fighter jet, making the choice of flight path possibly a dangerous one.
According to the United Kingdom's Daily Telegraph newspaper, Flight MH 17 was 300 miles off course for a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The Telegraph quote Robert Mark, an editor of Aviation International News Safety magazine, who used the FlightAware flight tracking system, from it, declaring that the previous two weeks worth of MH 17 flights occurred 300 miles south of where the crashed MH 17 flight tracked. The Daily Telegraph looked at flights on FlightAware and discovered that the evidence lead to a conclusion that Mark was correct. Even back then, a few days ago when the story broke: Malaysia Airlines denied that the flight was any different from the route other airlines used.
At a press conference held by the Malaysian Transport Minister today, the Minister stated that MH 17 had intended to fly at 35,000 feet as usual, but had been told by the air traffic control tower to fly at 33,000 feet. The Minister did not specify why the altitude needed to be altered, the plane simply obeyed the tower instructions of the Ukrainian government. This is according to Alexey Yaroshevsky, a Russian reporter who was at the press conference. He then quotes a Malaysia Airlines spokesperson who states that the change of altitude upon request of a traffic controller was not something unusual, and that the route was deemed safe and was not taken mistakenly. According to Singapore's Today Online news service, which also verifies the altitude change and belief that the route was safe: Malaysia Airlines also felt the need to do their own track analysis and found the route was safe, flying over eastern Ukrainian airspace was not an error or a mistake. Today Online however mentions, crediting the press conference, that the aircraft was told to fly at 33,000 feet, 'due to other traffic'. It is uncertain whether or not Today and the Russian journalist both are paraphrasing an instruction from air traffic control, or if one or other misheard or is mistaken.
Most media are drawing comparisons to 1987, when in the September of that year, Korean Air Flight 007 from Anchorage, Alaska to Seoul, South Korea: was shot down by a Soviet fighter jet. American President Ronald Reagan, according to the Global Post had just called the Soviet nation an 'evil Empire', and the American government had announced the development of the Star Wars missile defence system. American spy planes, specifically Boeing RC 135 aircraft, which are similar to civilian airliners, had been deployed to patrol the specific part of the world that the Korean Air Flight 007 had been in. Flight 007, the Global Post relays: was 200 miles off course into Soviet territory and the Soviets shot it down after firing tracers and receiving no response but not contacting the crew via radio. 269 people on board including a Georgia, USA American Congressman lost their lives in the incident.
The Global Post also relay the October 4, 2001 incident where Ukrainian forces shot down a Russian Siberian Airlines aircraft carrying 78 civilians at 35,000 feet. The craft, they relay, was downed into the Black Sea, killing all on board in an accident caused while Ukraine was conducting war games in the area.
The incident which is closest to the current incident however, shows just how much Ukraine authorities were playing God and risking the lives of the Malaysian Airlines passengers and crew. Iran Air Flight 655, on July 3, 1988, containing almost 300 people, including 66 children, was shot down by an American Navy ship, the USS Vincennes. The Americans believed that Flight 655 was an enemy F-14 fighter jet and fired a pair of surface-to-air missiles upon it in anger. 290 people were killed, in what the American government four years later, according to the Global Post: admitted was the Iranian waters.
Libyan Airlines Flight 114 from Tripoli to Cairo was shot down in 1973 when it veered into Israeli territory, resulting in at least 100 deaths. One of the copilots survived and flight path information on board suggested the pilots believed they were still in Egyptian airspace. Israeli fighter jets had signalled the aircraft to land, and shot it down when it did not.
These incidents all suggest a number of things: one of which is that it takes a trained operator to determine whether a radar blip is a spy plane, a fighter jet, or a passenger plane carrying innocents. A plane flying 300 miles off course, and at 33,000 feet rather than 35,000 feet for no apparent reason, certainly risked looking like one of the many Ukrainian military aircraft assigned to kill or assist in the killing of rebels in eastern Ukraine. These aircraft were being shot down over this exact region. Rebel forces had recently bragged that they had captured the exact missiles which are suspected to have shot down the plane, from the Ukrainian army which was positioned there to prevent Russian aircraft from entering the airspace.
Ukraine has proudly released a transcript of Ukrainian rebels believing they had shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane, and then discovering it was what their purported code word combination for a civilian aircraft is. Ukrainians also released an apparent transcript of Russian intelligence communicating with rebels about the incident. This suggests that the Ukrainian military has all access to the communications that rebels engage in. It also suggests that the Ukrainian military had evidence that the Russians were in control of events on the ground or influencing them, but has not come forward with this evidence before now. The evidence was in the form of a transcript in English not Russian, appearing in the English language Kiev Post. It also suggests that Russian intelligence is incredibly sloppy and utterly stupid to have allowed their important communications to be so easily intercepted if this is true.
Whether intentional, negligence, or a mere accident, the unusual behaviour of Flight MH 17 as instructed by Ukrainian air authorities and Malaysia Airlines: put it into clear and imminent danger. If the systems of Malaysia Airlines do not suggest that the flight was 200 miles off course as would be the truth if the press conference is to be believed, it might give a clue as to why another Malaysian aircraft of the same model disappeared just recently, likely killing all on board.
Shooting down an airliner which is not flying at the usual height, and is flying 200 miles off its usual course, is an easy mistake for an amateur or even some professionals to make if the stories about America shooting down an Iranian aircraft are to be believed. Placing that aircraft in that position when plane after plane was being shot down in the area is more than negligent, it borders on culpability. Ukraine has a responsibility to keep its airspace safe to travel in in accordance with international law. If it emerges that rebels stole Ukrainian missile technology, and fired upon the plane, it adds to the negligence of Ukraine in this scenario. The American army cannot be blamed for the Islamic State of Iraq using their weapons upon Iraqi civilians and Christians, weapons they donated to a war against the sovereign State of Syria. If Russia is supporting rebels in Ukraine, it does not make them responsible for the actions of every rebel group, although a case where America did something similar in South America might suggest Ukraine has a case in international law against Russia for damages monetarily if Russia is behind the rebellion against Kiev.
What is essential is that a proper investigation is done and that the results are not turned into ammunition for propaganda and war. Jumping the gun at this moment would land the world where MH 17 now lies.
C. F. The Global Post | 'The US once shot down a commercial airliner too' by Laura Colarusso at July 17, 2014 20:17.
C.F. The Daily Telegraph | 'Crashed MH17 flight 'was 300 miles off typical course'' by m Brooks-Pollock, and Edward Malnick at 10:25AM BST 18 Jul 2014.
#MH17 presscon: Plane had requested to fly at 35,000ft, but was asked to fly at 33,000ft due to other traffic
— TODAY (@TODAYonline) July 19, 2014
— Alexey Yaroshevsky (@Yaro_RT) July 19, 2014