Friday

25th May 2018

Ukraine investigators race to recover flight recorders

  • Investigators want to recover flight recorders on MH 17 (Photo: Zach Stern)

The race to locate the black box, flight deck recorder, and the cockpit recorder is underway as investigators make their way to the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 in eastern Ukraine.

Kiev dispatched a team to the crash site in the rebel-controlled area but it has yet to arrive as of early afternoon Friday (18 July).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Russian-backed separatists have cordoned off a 20 square kilometre security zone and announced they will co-operate with Ukrainian authorities.

The team’s priority is to first secure the site.

Media reports that the recording devices are gone have raised concerns the data could be lost or distorted.

Manipulating the evidence on flight recorders is extremely difficult, say aviation crash experts.

“It is very hard evidence and it is almost impossible to tamper with,” said one EU source.

The black box on the Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur records over 1,000 different parameters.

The cockpit recorder, aside from recording the voices of the pilots, is also equipped with an acoustic microphone tasked to detect abnormal sound waves like explosions.

Reports suggest an advanced Russian-made surface-to-air Buk missile system may have downed the plane, killing everyone on board.

Ukraine-led investigators will need to sift through the crash site to confirm all the debris belongs to the plane.

Rules under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) require a sovereign state to take the lead in the probe but Ukraine does not have full control of its eastern territory.

Ukraine has asked experts from Eurocontrol, the Brussels-based European air traffic control body, German-based European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), and ICAO to join the team.

Americans from Boeing, who built the aircraft, and Britons from Rolls Royce, who built the engines, will also be dispatched as well as observers from the Netherlands and Malaysia amongst others.

The probe is likely to take more than a year although a preliminary report setting out the initial facts is expected within a month or so.

The EU, for its part, has no role in the investigation.

Flying over a conflict zone

Around a quarter of airlines diverted flights around Ukraine a few days before the Malaysian flight crashed near the Russian border on Thursday.

On Monday, Ukraine authorities had extended and raised the flight safety zone to 32,000 feet, up from the initial 26,000 feet imposed on 1 July.

The Boeing had been instructed to cruise at 33,000 feet by Ukrainian air traffic control before it disappeared late afternoon.

Up until the crash, some 350 daily commercial flights were criss-crossing the conflict zone within the Ukrainian-set safety altitude.

Between 100 to 150 of those flights were European, going back and forth to Asia. The rest were domestic and regional.

“There were no national international aviation warnings which indicated any danger whatsoever to the airspace through which the Malaysian aircraft was flying,” noted another EU source.

Flight diversions from Ukraine mean air traffic has increased from 10 to 15 percent over Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, and Turkey.

Macron and Orban defend opposing EU visions

Two models - of deeper integration and liberal values, versus a Europe of strong and illiberal nations - will define voters' choices in the EU elections in 2019.

Analysis

Commission wants bigger post-Brexit budget

The Commission wants the next EU budget to prove the bloc has survived Brexit unscathed. However, some net payers disagree. The EU executive plans to put out an overall budget figure of 1.13 to 1.18 percent of EU GNI.

Opinion

The dangers of resurgent nationalism in Greece

Virulent nationalism in Greece has been stirred up in the context of austerity and renewed negotiations with Macedonia. Recent attempts by the government to address the inequalities suffered by LGBT persons have also been met with a reactionary backlash.

Opinion

Linking EU funds to 'rule of law' is innovative - but vague

Defining what constitutes 'rule of law' violations may be more difficult than the EU Commission proposes, as it tries to link cohesion funds in east Europe to judicial independence. A key question will be who is to 'judge' those judges?

News in Brief

  1. Italy set to pick eurosceptic finance minister
  2. UK foreign minister fooled by Russian pranksters
  3. Rajoy ally gets 33 years in jail for corruption
  4. Close race as polls open in Irish abortion referendum
  5. Gazprom accepts EU conditions on gas supplies
  6. Facebook tells MEPs: non-users are not profiled
  7. Commission proposes ending France deficit procedure
  8. UK households hit with Brexit income loss

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman requests more lending transparency from European Investment Bank
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  3. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  4. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  6. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  8. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  12. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach