Key Facts About Malaysia Airlines Flight 17
DoD: Separatists Fired the Deadly Missile
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, also known as MH17, crashed over eastern Ukraine on Thursday carrying 283 passengers and 15 crew members. The flight was operated using a Boeing 777-200 with registration 9M-MRD, and the flight time was expected to be roughly 11 and 30 minutes, covering 6,368 miles (10,248 kilometers, 5,533 nautical miles).
The plane that operated MH17 had been in service for 17 years and had a clean maintenance record.
The flight was cut short when a ground-to-air missile struck the aircraft. On Friday, U.S. Department of Defense officials said they believe that separatists were responsible for firing the missile.
The flight left the gate at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport at 12:14 p.m. local time and took off at 12:30 p.m. It was scheduled to land in Kuala Lumpur at 5:50 a.m. Its last known position was over Ukrainian airspace.
Experts say that the 777 was probably struck by a Buk surface-to-air missile. The Buk family of missiles was developed by the Soviet Union and, later, the Russian Federation. They are designed to fight cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, and fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. They can strike targets at 40,000 feet and travel at three times the speed of sound.
No one has taken credit for the attack and, while both Ukraine and Russia currently have Buk missile systems in their artillery, separatist rebels have also claimed to have access to them. Russian President Putin has denied involvement and blamed the Ukraine government for being responsible for fighting in the region.
The investigation into what happened will be far more complex than usual, largely because the crash site is in territory controlled by the separatist rebels, not by the Ukraine government. Ukrainian officials have already said that the rebels have the cockpit data and voice recorders, commonly referred to as black boxes, and investigators have yet to arrive because their safety has not yet been guaranteed. This has left the crash site in the hands of the rebel forces and experts have voiced concerns about the integrity of the site and the wreckage, which is scattered across a war zone.
Malaysian Airlines, which is still reeling from the loss of another 777 in March of this year, operated Flight 17 on Friday. As this article was going to press, the flight had left Amsterdam without incident shortly after 12 noon local time.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)