Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 may have been taking a big risk when it was shot down flying in a zone that it had been warned about, reports Daily Mail.
The airspace over eastern Ukraine was “not subject to restrictions,” according to the International Air Transport Association, but the airline had reportedly been told back in April by the European Aviation and Safety Agency to avoid flying over the war-torn country.
A total of 295 people - including 27 Australians, 9 Britons, and up to 23 Americans - were killed Thursday when the jetliner was reportedly shot down by a surface-to-air missile, possibly released by pro-Russian separatists, reports Fox News. The Boeing 777 was headed to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam and was at a cruising altitude of about 35 miles from the Ukrainian border when it disappeared from the radar.
Authorities are looking into whether the pilots ignored warnings and took advantage of the Ukrainian route in order to save fuel.
“Malaysia Airlines, like a number of other carriers, have been continuing to use it because it is a shorter route, which means less fuel and therefore less money,” said one “aviation expert.”
Several airlines, including American Airlines, Air France, Virgin, German Lufthansa, Turkish airlines, and Russian Aeroflot, announced they are planning to reroute their flights to avoid Ukrainian airspace, reports RT.
Back in April, the European Aviation and Safety Agency released the following warning:
Taking into consideration the recent publication by the Russian Federation of a series of notices to airmen (NOTAMs) modifying the Simferopol FIR which is under the responsibility of the Ukraine, and their intent to provide air traffic services (ATS) within this airspace, the Agency draws the aviation communities’ attention to the possible existence of serious risks to the safety of international civil flights.
The EASA updated it warning on July 8:
Due to the potential for conflicting air traffic control (ATC) instructions from Ukrainian and Russian authorities and for the related potential for misidentification of civil aircraft, UK aircraft operators are strongly advised to avoid, until further notice, the airspace over Crimea, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
Airlines have reportedly been provided with alternate routes.