It could have been a Singapore Airlines A380, or one of its Boeing 772s, that took the missile over eastern Ukraine, in a place no jet airliner should ever, under any circumstances, have been flown.
Three large airliners set off from Amsterdam, Paris and Copenhagen for SE Asia yesterday afternoon European time, all destined to cross the airspace over eastern Ukraine where one them, the Malaysia Airlines 777-200ER , was to be destroyed by a ground launched missile fired by pro-Russian separatists.
All 298 people on board died. The Malaysia flight MH17 was at 33,000 feet in broad daylight and good visibility in a well travelled corridor deemed ‘safe’ by the air traffic control authorities in Europe and the Ukraine at heights above 32,000 feet on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
Some eleven minutes after MH17 had taken off for KL, a Singapore Airlines A380 took off from Paris, also destined to traverse the same airspace, en route to Singapore.
However at the moment MH17 was blown open to fall in flames leaving a nine kilometre long track of bodies and wreckage across separatist held territory, the Paris departure SQ333 was further north and well to the west of the Malaysian flight. It wouldn’t have seen its demise.
About 32 minutes after MH17 had left Amsterdam, another similar 777-200ER, operating SQ351 took off from Copenhagen bound for Singapore via the same skies above a war zone in which two other aircraft had been shot down earlier this week, one a Ukrainian military cargo plane and the other one of its jet fighters.
SQ351 was even further away when the Malaysian flight was butchered by what was almost certainly a Russian BUK surface to air or SAM missile.
As the two unharmed flights, and probably a number of others, safely continued on their journeys, the air traffic authorities in Europe and the Ukraine hastily closed the air routes they had used.
But with 298 people slaughtered this is far too late to head off the outrage being expressed over the fact that the air routes above 32,000 feet were declared safe, and that carriers like Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines had flown where carriers like Qantas and many others had refused to go for at least two months, as the obvious hazards of flying over a war zone where aircraft were already being shot down had become apparent.
What logic, what lack of sensitivity, and what lack of basic decency influenced Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines and others to expose their passengers to these risks. Did-they-even-consider-them? If they did, why did they get it so wrong?
It is clear from the flight maps that for flights between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and similarly located hubs, less fuel is burned by continuing to use officially ‘safe’ but now suddenly closed as ‘unsafe’ air routes across the Ukraine.
But they burn more passengers. What a terrible, ghastly and hideous failure of duty of care on the part of Malaysia Airlines. And how lucky was Singapore Airlines, and no doubt others?