AI, SIA flights 24km away when missile hit

Wreckages of the malaysian airliner carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. (AFP)

Data from airline tracker Flightradar24 shows other commercial flights were in the area at the time of the Malaysian airline crash over Ukrainian airspace.

A Singapore Airlines flight and an Air India flight were around 24 km (15 miles) away, according to the data. 

Several other airlines have continued to fly the route.

The Malaysian passenger jet was shot down over eastern Ukrainian airspace on Thursday night, killing all 298 people onboard.

Airlines asked not to fly over eastern Ukraine

The US Federal Aviation Administration issued an order on Thursday night prohibiting American aircraft from flying over eastern Ukraine following the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight in that region.

Citing "recent events and the potential for continued hazardous activities," the FAA said the restricted area included the entire Simferopol and Dnepropetrovsk flight information regions.

"This action expands a prohibition of US flight operations issued by the FAA in April, over the Crimean region of Ukraine and adjacent areas of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov," the agency said.

It added that no scheduled US airlines were currently flying routes through the airspace.

Earlier in the day, the FAA said American air carriers had voluntarily agreed to avoid flying through airspace near Russia's border with Ukraine after the crash.

The FAA said its April order, known as a Notice to Airmen, was prompted by "unilateral and illegal action by Russia to assert control over Crimean airspace," including international airspace administered by Ukraine. In March, Russia annexed Crimea.

The FAA said Russia's actions at the time had created "the potential for conflicting air traffic control instructions from Ukrainian and Russian authorities" and a risk of civil aircraft being misidentified by authorities.

The FAA's April order also warned US operators and pilots flying in other parts of Ukraine, including Kiev, Lvov, Dnepropetrovsk and Odessa, to "exercise extreme caution due to the continuing potential for instability."

The FAA said that its April order, which will remain in effect until April 23, 2015, did not cover the specific airspace where the Malaysian flight went down on Thursday.     

Singapore Airlines stopped flying over Ukraine

Singapore Airlines stopped flying over Ukrainian airspace following the downing of a Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight in that region on Thursday.

"We have re-routed our flights since the incident and are no longer using that airspace," a spokeswoman from Singapore Airlines told Reuters.

Some international airlines, including Australia's Qantas Airways and Korea's two major carriers, shifted the route of flights over Ukrainian air space months ago amid increasing tensions between Kiev and pro-Moscow rebels.   

Australian, Korean airlines shifted Ukrainian flight routes months ago

Some international airlines, including Australia's Qantas Airways and Korea's two major carriers, shifted the route taken by flights operating over Ukrainian air space months ago amid increasing tensions between Kiev and pro-Moscow rebels.

The airlines took extra security precautions despite no official ban from regulators on flying through the area, even as others continued to use the route.

"Although the detour adds to flight time and cost, we have been making the detour for safety, and until the Ukrainian situation is over we will continue to take the detour route for our cargo flight out of Brussels," an Asiana Airlines spokeswoman told Reuters.

A Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS) plane was brought down in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 298 people on board, in what the United States said was probably a ground-launched missile strike.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said it appeared that "Russian-backed rebels" were responsible.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said after the crash that "based on information currently available it is believed that the airspace that the aircraft was traversing was not subject to restrictions".

However, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an order prohibiting US aircraft from flying in the airspace over the Crimean region of Ukraine and nearby parts of the Black Sea and Sea of Azov. The FAA order is in force until April 27, 2015.

"It's blatantly obvious they shouldn't have been anywhere near it," said Geoff Dell, an accident investigation and safety specialist at CQUniversity in Australia, of Flight MH17.

"Any sort of unrest breaks out, civil wars or such, you change your flight path so that you don't go anywhere near it," said Dell, who was working as a senior safety manager for Qantas during the first Gulf War. "Of course it comes at a cost because you have to fly further."

Asiana said it shifted its once-weekly cargo flight some 150 km (93 miles) below Ukrainian airspace on March 3 amid the deteriorating geopolitical situation over the Crimean peninsula. Korea Air Lines Co Ltd switched its flights at the same time.
Qantas said it moved the flight path for its London to Dubai route that passed over Ukraine some 400 nautical miles (740 km) to the south "several months ago".

Cathay Pacific Airways said it adjusted its routes some time ago, without giving a timeframe.

 

Print Email