According to the final report published on Tuesday (October 13), the 777-200 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was downed over Ukrainian territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists when a missile hit the front left side of the aircraft’s cockpit which caused other parts to break off.
But the report didn’t proportion any blame for the incident; that is a matter that will wait until 2016 when a separate report from a Dutch-led criminal investigation will be published.
In the 15 months since the incident, disputes over responsibility for the incident have continued. The West and the Ukraine have laid the blame at the feet of Russian-backed rebels for the 777’s downing, while Russia has pointed the finger at Ukrainian forces.
While not drawing a conclusion on how fired the missile, the DSB did reject Russia’s submission to the report which argued that crash investigators that investigators shouldn’t have discounted “other potential reasons” for aircraft crash, such as an air-to-air rocket.
The wider issue of whether airlines should be flying aircraft in conflict zones was also addressed.
The report concluded there was “sufficient reason” for Ukrainian authorities to close the airspace in the conflict-hit Eastern Ukraine region, something it along with other countries failed to do.
Tjibbe Joustra, DSB chairman, confirmed: “Thirty-two different countries flew over an area where armed conflict was taking place. MH-17 was one of 160 flights that operated there.”
The report also didn’t absolve Malaysia Airlines and IATA from responsibility for flying over the Ukraine, and urged organisations to pay closer attention to conflict zones. “Operators cannot take it for granted that open airspace above a conflict zone is safe,” the report stated.