MH17: Why Malaysia Airlines must be confident about Syria safety
This isn’t new, as a practice, but Flightradar24 shows the extent of Malaysia Airlines’ confidence in the aviation friendly nature of the Syrian conflict.
The screen capture at the top of the page is an over view of yesterday’s flight to London from Kuala Lumpur by MH4, an Airbus A380.
It is useful in that it shows the optimum route (red dashes) that passes over Ukraine, and the actual route followed by MH4 over among other countries Iraq and Syria.
A close up of the ‘playback’ function while the A380 is over Syria at 40,000 feet is shown below. In general A380s cruise at higher altitudes, and reach them sooner, than twin engined designs making similar flights in terms of load/airframe and duration. Not that this matters to a modern heavy surface-to-air missile attack.
The extensive use of Syrian and Iraqi airspace by many carriers, including those that were in some cases avoiding Ukraine corridors even before the MH 17 atrocity, has caused a great deal of concern.
The rationale given for Iraq and Syria is claimed to be intelligence saying there is no situation in either where such missiles were in the hands of the extremists or insurgents, and that air power superiority in each is exercised by the soverign power, while Ukraine had lost effective full military control of its skies over rebel strongholds.
To summarise and borrow from comments made by Emirates president and CEO Sir Tim Clark, two days ago and again yesterday ‘all bets are off’.
In other words, everything has to be looked at again.
The pressure on all carriers to reconsider the integrity of ICAO endorsements of air space as safe ought to be overwhelming, but it isn’t something most airlines, other than Emirates, are prepared to discuss with such candour.
The time for the basis for safety evaluations of flights over disputed territory to be examined in an independent inquiry, perhaps in the one being sought by Australia for MH17, has clearly arrived.
The underlying danger from this time on is that MH17 has set an example for terrorists to acquire and use such weapons to ‘make a statement’.
Thanks to Crikey colleague Bernard Keane for this tip while PT has been off air.