Now that it’s been a few weeks since the Malaysia Airlines tragedy over Ukraine, it’s worth taking a longer view. And one of the most oft-asked questions following the downing of the plane was: “What was it doing flying over that region in the first place?”
I’m reminded of a blog posting of Patrick Smith, a frequent guest on my weekend radio show and a commercial pilot who flies internationally. He’s also the author of the very good blog called AskThePilot.
Shortly after the disaster, Patrick wrote, ““Dozens of airline flights pass each day over Baghdad. I have personally piloted flights over Eastern Ukraine, close to where the Malaysia Airlines 777 met its fate.
“Over certain countries — Afghanistan, for instance — commercial overflights might be prohibited outright. Compliance with these restrictions is important, but they are not difficult to follow. Crews don’t simply wander unknowingly into dangerous airspace. On the ground, air traffic controllers are fully aware of who will be passing over, and when.”
Patrick notes the airspace over Eastern Ukraine and was being used routinely by European and Asian airlines when the Malaysian jet was brought down. And US airlines had not been warned away from flying.
“What a double-dose of agonizing luck,” Smith wrote, “for Malaysia Airlines. One of the world’s most highly regarded carriers has lost two Boeing 777s in less than a year’s span, with neither accident likely being its fault.”