Over a month after the crash of flight MH 17 over east Ukraine, and with the confiscated Air Traffic Control voice recording still kept confidential by a western-led task force for reasons unknown, overnight the Dutch Safety Board released its preliminary report on the causes of the crash. As the AP reported, it agency “stopped short of saying the Boeing 777 was shot down by a missile, but its findings appear to point to that conclusion. It also did not say who might have been responsible.” Actually, what the Dutch report did say is the following: MH17 was struck by multiple “high-energy objects from outside the aircraft,” causing it to break up over eastern Ukraine, a preliminary report into the deadly aviation disaster concluded Tuesday.

From the report: “The damage observed in the forward section of the aircraft appears to indicate that the aircraft was penetrated by a large number of high-energy objects from outside the aircraft,” the report said. “It is likely that this damage resulted in a loss of structural integrity of the aircraft, leading to an in-flight break up.”

In essence what the board “reported” is what has been widely known by now: “The initial results of the investigation point toward an external cause of the MH17 crash,” the board’s chairman, Tjibbe Joustra, said in a statement. “More research will be necessary to determine the cause with greater precision. The Safety Board believes that additional evidence will become available for investigation in the period ahead…. Detailed examination of the structural damage is ongoing,” the report said. “Forensic examination will be performed if the wreckage can be removed.”

Not unexpectedly, by the time the Dutch conclude their report, nobody will care about MH 17 and the current Ukraine civil war foreplay will be long forgotten, having been either long since resolved or grown into something much bigger. To wit:

The board is leading the international investigation into the cause of the disaster. Its full report is expected within a year of the crash.

But while the report itself was largely neutral as expected for a preliminary report, the “experts” promptly jumped in to steer the discussion in the desired direction, starting with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott who said, “The findings are consistent with the government’s statement that MH17 was shot down by a large surface-to-air missile.”

Another that saw in the report what he wanted to see was Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who “welcomed the report, saying in a written statement that its key conclusion “leads to the strong suspicion that a surface-to-air missile brought MH17 down, but further investigative work is needed before we can be certain.” Well at least he covered his bases by saying his conclusion is not really based on anything in the actual report.

Yet other, supposedly credible voices also took over “concluding” what was a very inconclusive report: next cited was an “aviation safety specialist” at Yates Consulting, Christopher Yates, who told the AP the report “is extremely consistent with damage from a missile for the simple reason there are penetration marks.

“It must have been moving at very high velocity to create the damage,” he said. “It could only be a missile of the type that would reach the altitude that would have struck the aircraft, potentially a Buk missile. He said the report gave no indication whether the missile had been fired from the ground or from another aircraft, but it likely came from the ground as there were no military aircraft known to have been flying at the time. The missile could not have been shoulder-fired because it would not have reached the necessary altitude, he added.

So if it is so clear that a Rebel-fired missile destroyed the airplane, we should look forward to the undoctored ATC recordings finally beings released to the public? After all, they have been held in secret custody longer even than the MH 370 ATC recordings, another plane whose fate is still a mystery.

Finally, we are stunned that nobody has observed the obvious: “high-energy objects from outside the aircraft” like for example… bullets? As in a warplane-fired volley of high-powered bullets. Curiously, there is not even a single mention of the word “bullet” in the entire 34 page report: apparently even the mere possibility of such an “high-energy object” is too inconceivable to even consider?

Then again, one can see why this possibility was not even mentioned by the experts, the politicians and the pundits: for the simple reason that should bullets be noted as a culprit, that would immediately put all the blame on the Kiev government as only a Ukraine warplane could have shot down the Malaysian Boeing 777 over Ukraine airspace.

But we are confident this possibility will be extensively covered in the final Dutch Board report, some time in late 2015 or 2016, by which point we can only hope the ATC recording which may just reveal why the airplane was redirected, will be finally released…

* * *

Update: it appears that at least a part of the ATC transcript has been released and can be found in the report as follows:

ATC transcript_0

This is the transcript immediately surrounding the crash and confirms the redirection from Dnipropetrovs’k air traffic control centre (Dnipro Radar) “due to traffic.” From the report:

At the time of the occurrence flight MH17 was under control of Dnipropetrovs’k air traffic control centre (Dnipro Radar). Shortly after 13.20 hrs, both Ukraine and Russian Federation Radar lost contact with the aircraft. The last radio transmission made by the crew began at 13.19:56 hrs and ended at 13.19:59 hrs. Dnipropetrovs’k air traffic control centre made a radio transmission to flight MH17 which began at 13.20:00 hrs and ended at 13.20:05 hrs. The crew did not respond to this transmission or subsequent transmissions. No distress message was received from the aircraft at any point in time by ATC.

What is not disclosed is the actual transcript that notes the path redirection. Instead the Dutch report reveals the following in paraphrase:

According to the flight plan, flight MH17 would initially fly at Flight Level 330 (FL330)5 above Ukraine until the waypoint PEKIT, which is on the Flight Information Region (FIR) boundary between Kiev FIR (UKBV) and Dnipropetrovs’k FIR (UKDV). From waypoint PEKIT the flight plan indicates FL350 for the remaining part over Ukraine.

According to ATC data, at 12.53 hrs the aircraft was flying within the Dnipropetrovs’k FIR, Control Sector 2, at FL330, controlled by Dnipro Control. At that time, Dnipro Control asked whether MH17 was able to climb to FL350 in accordance with the flight plan of MH17 and also to clear a potential separation conflict with other traffic in the area, another Boeing 777 flying at FL330 and approaching from behind.

The crew replied they were unable to comply and requested to maintain at FL330. This was agreed by Dnipro Control. As an alternative to solve the separation conflict, the other traffic climbed to FL350. According to ATC data, at 13.00 hrs the crew of flight MH17 requested to divert the track 20 NM to the left, due to weather. This also was agreed by Dnipro Control, after which the crew requested whether FL340 was available. Dnipro control informed MH17 that FL340 was not available at that moment and instructed the flight to maintain FL330 for a while. At 13.07 hrs the flight was transferred to Dnipropetrovs’k CTA 4, also with call sign Dnipro Control.

The provided map, which however fails to note any military aircraft in the vicinity, something that the Russians had supposedly caught on their radar.

MH 17 report map_0

And previously from Russia:

Russia press conference screengrab_0

Su 25 vs MH 17

Here is a screengrab of a Su-25 fighter jet detected close to MH17 before crash.

Considering the seriousness of this redirection and the pilot’s alleged “inability” to comply, it would be far more useful if the Dutch Safety Board would release this part of the transcript as it certainly will reveal much more than the part of the conversation that is already well known.

And some more from the report, first on the fate of the Flight Recorders:

The flight recorders were not recovered from the wreckage site by investigators of the Annex 13 investigation team, but individuals unknown to the team took them from the site. On 21 July 2014, the recorders were handed over to a Malaysian official in Donetsk by representatives of the armed group controlling the area. The recorders were transported by train from Donetsk to Kharkiv in custody of a Malaysian official and accompanied by Dutch officials and then transported to Kiev also in custody of a Malaysian official and accompanied by Dutch and ICAO officials. In Kiev the recorders were handed over to the Dutch Safety Board on 22 July 2014.

Immediately after the handover to the Dutch Safety Board, the recorders were transported to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch’s laboratory at Farnborough, United Kingdom, accompanied by an international team of air safety investigators from Germany, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and representatives of ICAO. At Farnborough a French investigator joined the team whereupon the work to download the data of both recorders was started. Later on an air safety investigator of the Interstate Aviation Committee also joined the team.

No evidence or indications of manipulation of the recorders were found.

The Cockpit Voice Recorder:

The housing of the CVR (figure 4) had been damaged and, although the model and serial numbers were unreadable on the data plate, the serial number 1366 – matching the one provided by Malaysia Airlines – was found stamped on the underside of the chassis. The external damage found on the CVR is consistent with impact damage, the internal memory module was intact. The recording capacity of this recorder is 30 minutes.

The full 30 minutes were successfully downloaded and contained valid data from the flight.

The replay of the CVR matched ATC communications with the aircraft (see ATC transcript). The recording also included crew communication which gave no indication that there was anything abnormal with the flight. The CVR audio recording ended abruptly. A replay of the CVR did not identify any aircraft aural warnings or alerts of system malfunctions. Detailed analysis is ongoing.

No aural warnings or alerts of aircraft system malfunctions were heard on the cockpit voice recording, which ended at 13.20:03 hrs. Crew communication gave no indication that there was anything abnormal with the flight.

Finally, data on the wreckage:

Wreckage distribution

Wreckage from flight MH17 was discovered spread over a large area near the towns of Rozsypne and Hrabove in eastern Ukraine. The main wreckage site was located 8.5 km on a bearing of 080° from the last known position of the aircraft in flight. On the accident site, a large amount of photographs was made, which allowed identification of certain aircraft parts, including preliminary assessments of localization and the nature of damage on the fuselage skin and the engines.

The aircraft wreckage, identified from the on-site photographs and satellite images, consisted of many large and small pieces distributed over an area of approximately 10 km by 5 km (figure 6). Fuselage pieces, cargo and baggage were scattered throughout the wreckage site. There were many additional unidentified pieces that are not shown in the figure. For easy reference the wreckage site has been divided into sections as shown in figure 6. These sections match with the aircraft sections shown in figure 7.

MH 17 wreckage map_0

MH fuselage image_0

Some pictures of relevant parts of which the location was known, are discussed hereinafter.

Cockpit and forward area damage

Large parts from around the cockpit and forward section were found in the area closest to the last recorded FDR position (figure 6). Among these parts were portions of the cockpit, the forward cargo bay floor and the cockpit side wall. The remains of the cockpit were located at the southern end of Rozsypne, 2.3 km east from the last recorded FDR position.

Photographs from the some wreckage showed that a number of pieces contained multiple holes and indentations. An example of a piece of wreckage containing such damage was a piece of skin from below the left cockpit window (figure 8) found in the town of Petropavlivka.

MH17 Perforation_0

Around 1.7 km north of the position where the cockpit window structure was found, was a section of the cockpit roof also showing holes indicating penetration from outside (figure 9).

MH17 Perforation 2_0

Noting that the investigation team has not yet had the opportunity to recover these components for forensic examination, photographs from the wreckage indicated that the material around the holes was deformed in a manner consistent with being punctured by high-energy objects. The characteristics of the material deformation around the puncture holes appear to indicate that the objects originated from outside the fuselage.

Full report below (link to original):

 

MH17 preliminary report.pdf


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