Category Archives: MH17

Flight #MH17 – Countering the sickening blame games on this dark day

It has been a dark difficult day for me like for so many others today. Remembering the victims of Flight MH17, thinking about everything that was written and said about this horrible incident, including my own words. We wend to church today, my girlfriend and newly found family at my side. We mourned together, we prayed together. We were close, as family and that means more to me than I am able to express. Back at my aunt’s house, tears overwhelmed me and I cried, my family cried with me. Again I felt flashes of anger boiling inside me, feelings I don’t want to have but I can’t avoid. My aunt sensed it, held my hand and just sat there with me. I felt what it means to have a family on this dark sad day.

And then I got a message from my dear friend Anna, a shocking message which sums up all the damage done by all the blame games going on since the massacre of Flight MH17. She wrote me “Do you hate me today?”. I tried to call her immediately but she didn’t answer the calls. But she wrote another message. “Your press all say we did it. Please don’t hate me for this!”.

My dear sweet friend finally answered the phone after many tries.

I don’t hate you, how could I hate you? Why should I hate you, you are my friend!

But they all blames us for killing your people a year ago. They all hate us for it, you also.

I don’t care what they write or what they say and no matter what, I don’t hate you. You are my friend!

But what if it was us? What if we did this?

We both know it wasn’t you and we both don’t know who it was. We will have to wait what the investigations show and no matter what it will show, it wasn’t you.

Will you still talk to me when they say it was us?

When that happens, I will talk even more to you than I do now. You are my friend, we have been friends since we were kids.
Continue reading Flight #MH17 – Countering the sickening blame games on this dark day

Flight #MH17 – Who allowed this to happen?

There are ongoing investigation into the crash of Flight MH17 by JIT and DSB which might or might not identify who is responsible for the attack on the commercial airliner in 17 July 2014. But there is another question to be answered which might help saving lives in the future:

Who allowed this to happen?

A friend does trainings coachings on the topic of Health and Safety for companies and his booklet provides a practical checklist for incidents every manager should ask himself whenever an incident occurred.. Two questions from this checklist keep circling my mind in relation to the crash of Flight MH17:

What have you done to prevent this?

What will you do to prevent this from happening again?

Looking at the days before the attack on Flight MH17 and at the current situation in various war-zones and unstable regions around the world, the answer to both questions appears to be “ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

Continue reading Flight #MH17 – Who allowed this to happen?

Flight #MH17 – Investigations and jurisdiction

After the downing of Flight MH17 over embattled Eastern Ukraine on 17/07/2014, killing 298 civilians on board the plane, 3 (!) investigations were initiated by two separated bodies of authority:

  1. The Dutch Safety Board (DSB), under authority of the United Nations body International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and in agreement with the Ukrainian State Aviation Administration (SAA) and Ukrainian National Bureau of Incidents and Accidents Investigation of Civil Aircraft (NBAAII) , opened the Aviation Security Investigation for the incident in which it is to determine what caused the crash of Flight MH17 and is also expected to provide recommendations to prevent such incidents in the future. The DSB has published a preliminary report in which it excluded technical and human failure as possible causes for the crash. An updated reported was distributed to the participants, being:
    1. The Netherlands (*)
    2. Ukraine (*)
    3. Russian Federation
    4. United States of America
    5. Malaysia
    6. United Kingdom
    7. Belgium (*)
    8. Australia (*)
  2. The DSB under the same authority, opened an investigation into the decision making process under which the airspace over embattled Eastern Ukraine was not closed prior to the incident, despite multiple aviation incidents in which military planes have been shutdown from various flight levels in the days prior to the crash of Flight MH17.
  3. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) (*), per agreement between the member countries under the leadership of the Justice Department of The Netherlands, opened the criminal investigation into the crash of Flight MH17 in which it will seek evidence of the guilty party/parties and adequate evidence for prosecution.

Although these investigations by the DSB and JIT will have significant overlap in available data and resources, it is important to understand the difference. First and foremost, the DSB will focus on the Aviation Safety related issues of the incident and recommendation for prevention. This investigation is bound by the rules of and authorized by the ICAO, which also stipulates that all ICAO members are obliged to participate in and contribute to the investigation on request of the leading committee. ICAO also stipulates that all members are bound to recognize the final outcome of the investigation and the ruling by the investigative body. None of this applies to the work of the JIT!

Continue reading Flight #MH17 – Investigations and jurisdiction

Flight #MH17 – It happened before, a sad history of attacks on commercial airlines

It has been almost a year since Flight MH17 was attacked and brought down over Eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 innocent civilians on board the commercial airliner. Although we are still under shock of this horrible incident and the next of kin of the victims are still struggling with the traumas of this dramatic event, this is by far an unique incident. It happened before and it might happen again. This is an overview of the sad recent history of attacks on commercial airlines:

  • Iranian Air Flight 655 was shot down on 03/07/1988 by the USA, killing 290 innocent civilians on board.
  • Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 was shot down on 04/10/2001 by Ukraine, killing 78 innocent civilians on board.
  • Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down on 17/07/2014 killing 298 innocent civilians on board and it is still to be determined who is responsible for this incident.

These flights have several facts in common:

  • All flights were registered standard commercial flights flying within their agreed flight path under internationally recognized Air Traffic Control.
  • All flights were transmitting international standard identification codes which clearly identified them as commercial flights.
  • All flights were shot down by military air defense systems.
  • At first, those responsible for this horrible incident denied responsibility…

Flight MH17 has however some facts which set it aside from the 2 other very traumatic incidents: Continue reading Flight #MH17 – It happened before, a sad history of attacks on commercial airlines

Flight MH17, the aftermath

A close friend wrote a series of booklets with practical guidelines for managers in various topics. One of these is very applicable to Flight MH17: Safety Management and Incident Handling. Although orientated on factories and manufacturing, there is a list of questions recommended for safety incidents which are very valid for this case:

  1. What was done to prevent this incident?
  2. What will be changed since the prevention was not effective?
  3. How was the incident handled after it occurred?

All in charge of the different authorities involved should work according to these points and set priorities accordingly.

Continue reading Flight MH17, the aftermath

Flight MH17, the unanswered questions raised by Russian Authorities

On 18/07/2014, high ranking officers of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation stated the first 10 questions about the attack on Flight MH17. This was the day after the downing of Flight MH17 and in response to the statements by the USA that they were “confident that Flight MH17 was shot down by a missile launched by militia’s which was supplied by the Russian Federation.

  1. Immediately after the tragedy, the Ukrainian authorities, naturally, blamed it on the self-defense forces. What are these accusations based on?
  2. Can Kiev explain in detail how it uses Buk missile launchers in the conflict zone? And why were these systems deployed there in the first place, seeing as the self-defense forces don’t have any planes?
  3. Why are the Ukrainian authorities not doing anything to set up an international commission? When will such a commission begin its work?
  4. Would the Ukrainian Armed Forces be willing to let international investigators see the inventory of their air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles, including those used in SAM launchers?
  5. Will the international commission have access to tracking data from reliable sources regarding the movements of Ukrainian warplanes on the day of the tragedy?
  6. Why did Ukrainian air traffic controllers allow the plane to deviate from the regular route to the north, towards “the anti-terrorist operation zone”?
  7. Why was airspace over the warzone not closed for civilian flights, especially since the area was not entirely covered by radar navigation systems?
  8. How can official Kiev comment on reports in the social media, allegedly by a Spanish air traffic controller who works in Ukraine, that there were two Ukrainian military planes flying alongside the Boeing 777 over Ukrainian territory?
  9. Why did Ukraine’s Security Service start working with the recordings of communications between Ukrainian air traffic controllers and the Boeing crew and with the data storage systems from Ukrainian radars without waiting for international investigators.
  10. What lessons has Ukraine learned from a similar incident in 2001, when a Russian Tu-154 crashed into the Black Sea? Back then, the Ukrainian authorities denied any involvement on the part of Ukraine’s Armed Forces until irrefutable evidence proved official Kiev to be guilty.

3 days later, on 21/07/2014, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation issued 10 more (and partially redundant) questions to Ukraine, and the USA about the attack on Flight MH17:

  1. Why did the MH17 plane leave the international corridor?
  2. Was MH17 leaving the route a navigation mistake or was the crew following instructions by Ukrainian air traffic controllers in Dnepropetrovsk?
  3. Why was a large group of air defense systems deployed to the militia-held area if the self-defense forces have no planes?
  4. Why did Kiev deploy BUK missile systems on the edge of militia-controlled zones directly before the tragedy?
  5. On the day of the crash Kiev intensified Kupol-M1 9S18 radar activity, key BUK system components. Why?
  6. What was a military plane doing on the route intended for civilian flights?
  7. Why was the military jet flying at so close to a passenger plane?
  8. Where did the launcher – from the video circulated by Western media and showing a Buk system being moved allegedly from Ukraine to Russia – come from? As the video was made on the territory controlled by Kiev, where was the launcher being transported?
  9. Where is it right now? Why are some of the missiles missing on the launcher? When was the last time a missile was launched from it?
  10. Why haven’t US officials revealed the evidence supporting claims that the MH17 was shot down by a missile launched by the militia?

These questions, and many more, are the kind of questions every investigator involved in the case of Flight MH17 should ask and pursue obtaining answers and data with the highest possible priority. Let us have a closer look at these questions and the possible answers.

Continue reading Flight MH17, the unanswered questions raised by Russian Authorities

Flight MH17, the unanswered questions (Part 3)

The USA and Russia have developed advanced technologies for surveillance from the ground, the air and the orbital atmosphere. Satellites, airborne early warning systems, radar and radio monitoring are common technologies which both countries deploy at will. With the conflict raging in Eastern Ukraine, it is safe to assume and naive not to assume that both countries have deployed their intelligent electronic eyes and ears in the region.

Both countries have made statements about having data related to Flight MH17 without actually revealing the details and sources of this data. This data might provide conclusive evidence about the downing of Flight MH17 in which all 298 innocent civilians on board the commercial aircraft were killed.

Criminal investigators have a rule of thumb:

Don’t expect the information to be delivered to you, you have to search for it especially when this information can incriminate the owner of the information or their partners.

The question to which there is no answer is which efforts did the Government of The Netherlands undertake to obtain information even when this could incriminate the owner of the information or their partners. Determining which weapon was used and who owned this weapon at the time of the crime is among the highest priority in every criminal investigation.

Continue reading Flight MH17, the unanswered questions (Part 3)

Flight MH17, the unanswered questions (Part 2)

In attempting to find answers to questions about Flight MH17, the first thing one notices is the total information blackout from official channels in The Netherlands, Belgium and Australia. Russia at first provided the information available to them and after that urged others to do the same. The USA made a statement about detecting the launch of a missile and from thereon reverted back to sanctions. Ukraine made many statements on this and other topics of which some can be qualified as incorrect to put it mildly.

In the midst of this total information blackout are the families and friends of the victims on board of Flight MH17. 15 crew members and 283 passengers, the majority of which were citizens of the Netherlands, left a group of devastated people behind who just want to know and want to be informed by their government about the progress, about the actions, about efforts. None of that is happening!

The only way to gets answers is by asking questions. My father.

After the first part of unanswered questions about Flight MH17, this is the second and most certainly not the last part of unanswered questions.

Continue reading Flight MH17, the unanswered questions (Part 2)

Flight MH17, the unanswered questions (Part 1)

Hours after the crash of Flight MH17 which killed all passengers and crew members on board, the tabloids and hordes of self-proclaimed experts on Social Media already had all the answers. The who, how and what was already known even before the rest of the world started to comprehend the magnitude of the tragedy. Who needs facts when all that matters are sales numbers and online attention?

Facts are what the families and friends who lost their loved ones on Flight MH17 are looking for, and every human being will understand that facts about the events will be a significant part of the mourning process and and step forward towards being able to handle life after the tragedy. Several weeks ago, I had the privilege and honor to meet a brave man who is trying to coop with losing his daughter on Flight MH17 and is searching for honest answers and facts about why and how his daughter was murdered. Searching for a confirmation that whomever is responsible for this will have to face justice. This father made a statement with tears on his face which is engraved in my mind:

Whenever I try to find an answer, I end up with more questions!

Continue reading Flight MH17, the unanswered questions (Part 1)

What do we know about Flight MH17 – separating facts from fiction

The father of a victim of MH17 told me:

I will never get my daughter back but at least I want to know who did this to us!

These are the confirmed facts about Flight MH17:

  1. Flight MH17 departed on 17/07/2014 from Schiphol in the Netherlands on a flight to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia with 15 crewmembers and 283 passengers.
  2. At 13:20:03 the flight recorders stopped recording and the crew stopped responding to the calls from ATC at Ukrainian and Russian side.
  3. Flight MH17 crashed near Torez in Donetsk Oblast, killing all crewmembers and passengers.
  4. Flight MH17 was flying in unrestricted airspace in which 3 other commercial aircrafts where flying at the moment of the incident.
  5. Ukraine, responsible for the investigation according to ICAO rules, delegated the investigation to The Netherlands which is handled by the Dutch Safety Board.
  6. There is a Non-Disclosure-Agreement between the Governments of Ukraine, The Netherlands, Belgium and Australia related to this investigation for which the content is not made public.
  7. United Nations Security Council Resolution 2166 calls for a thorough investigation of the crash, free and unlimited access of the crash site, ceasing of all military actions at and around the crash site and those responsible for the crash to be held to account.
  8. The flight recorders of Flight MH17 have been recovered and analyzed.
  9. According to the latest information, all victims of Flight MH17 have been identified.
  10. Wreckage of Flight MH17 have been partially recovered and transported for investigation to The Netherlands, other parts of the wreckage still remain at or near the crash site.
  11. The Dutch Safety Board published a preliminary report, concluding based on indications that the crash of Flight MH17 was caused by external high energy objects puncturing the fuselage from the outside.
  12. This preliminary report is based on ATC information provided by Ukraine and the Russian Federation without specifying which information was provided.

Almost 10 months after the horrible incident, this is a rather small amount of confirmed facts available to the public and the families of the victims of Flight MH17.

There is of course more but so far not confirmed information about Flight MH17.

Continue reading What do we know about Flight MH17 – separating facts from fiction