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Flight MH17 broke up in the air after being pierced by 'high-energy objects'

The Dutch Safety Board has published its first report into the deadly incident today.

Updated 11pm


THE DUTCH SAFETY Board published a preliminary report today from its investigation into the crash of MH17.

It found that the Boeing 777-200 operated by Malaysia Airlines broke up in the air as the result of structural damage caused by a “large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from the outside”.

The pattern of the wreckage on the ground suggests that the aircraft split into pieces during flight, something the report describes as an “in-flight break up”.

There are no indications that the MH17 crash was caused by a technical fault or by actions of the crew, investigators confirmed.

Based on the available maintenance history the airplane was airworthy when it took off from Amsterdam and there were no known technical problems. The aircraft was manned by a qualified and experienced crew.

PastedImage-47492 Aft fuselage skin, right side, with partial registration of the aircraft. Source: NBAAI

The report does not apportion blame to any group for the shooting down of the plane. Since the tragedy, the international community has accused Russian-backed separatists of using a Moscow-supplied surface-to-air missile to bring the aircraft down. Russia, in turn, has blamed Ukrainian forces.

“We investigate the cause of the accident and not who’s responsible,” OVV spokeswoman Sara Vernooij said.


The Dutch Safety Board said it has not yet been possible to conduct a detailed study of the wreckage because of continued fighting in the Donetsk area.

However, it added the available images show that the pieces of wreckage were “pierced in numerous places”. The team has relied on information from Ukrainian crash specialists on the scene.

“The pattern of damage to the aircraft fuselage and the cockpit is consistent with that which may be expected from a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside,” investigators explained.

“It’s likely that this damage resulted in a loss of structural integrity of the aircraft, leading to an in-flight break up. This also explains the abrupt end to the data registration on the recorders, the simultaneous loss of contact with air traffic control and the aircraft’s disappearance from radar.”

No emergency call

PastedImage-66317 Cockpit voice recorder Source: AAIB

According to the cockpit voice recorder, the flight data recorder and data from air traffic control, the flight proceeded as normal until 1.20pm on 17 July. At this point, it “ended abruptly”, the report says.

A full listening of the communications among the crew members in the cockpit recorded on the cockpit voice recorder revealed no signs of any technical faults or an emergency situation.

Neither were any warning tones heard in the cockpit that might have pointed to technical problems. The flight data recorder registered no aircraft system warnings, and aircraft engine parameters were consistent with normal operation during the flight.

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The radio communications with Ukrainian air traffic control confirm that no emergency call was made by the cockpit crew. The final calls by Ukrainian air traffic control made between 1.20pm and 1.22pm (UTC) remained unanswered.

The aircraft exploded over eastern Ukraine en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on, killing all 298 on board.

This report is described as a preliminary one detailing the initial findings of an investigation that is still fully underway.

“More research will be necessary to determine more precisely what caused the crash and how the airplane disintegrated,” the Board said, adding that it believes additional evidence will emerge in the future.

It is hoped the full report will be launched before July 2015.


“The MH17 crash has shocked the world and raised many questions,” said chairman
Tjibbe Joustra.

“The Dutch Safety Board wishes to determine the cause of the crash, for the sake of the loved ones of the victims and for society at large.”

First published 9.11am

Read: Malaysia Airlines to fire 6,000 workers and set up new company

More: Search for remains of MH17 flight victims called off 

Related: Heartbreaking statement from devastated family who lost 3 children and grandad in MH17

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