A Boeing-777 of the Malaysia Airlines (flight MH17) en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed on July 17 in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk Region, some 60 km 9 over 37 miles) from the Russian border, in the zone of combat operations between the Donetsk self-defense forces and the Ukrainian army. All the passengers and crewmembers onboard the aircraft - 298 people - died. Most of the passengers - 196 people - were Dutch citizens.
"There are no indications that the MH17 crash was caused by a technical fault or by actions of the crew," the Dutch Safety Board, which is leading the investigation and coordinating the international team of investigators, said in its report. "The pattern of wreckage on the ground suggests that the aircraft split into pieces during flight."
“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,” the report said. “The flight data recorder registered no aircraft system warnings, and aircraft engine parameters were consistent with normal operation during the flight.”
The report also said that as of yet it was not possible to hold the detailed study of the wreckage as the investigation still continues, but numerous images showed that remains of the aircraft were pierced in numerous places.
“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,” the report said. “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.”
Chairman of the Dutch Safety Board Tjibbe Joustra said that the findings presented in Tuesday’s report were preliminary and the investigation’s final report would be published by mid-July next year.“The preliminary report issues the first findings in an ongoing investigation,” Joustra said. “From this point on, the investigation team will be working towards producing its final report. The [Dutch Safety] Board aims to publish this report within one year of the date of the crash.”
International experts from the Netherlands, Australia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) began arriving at the airliner crash site near the settlement of Gabovo, 79 km (49 miles) north of Donetsk, since July 31 in search of the missing bodies of passengers and aircraft’s remains. Before that, they had not been able to carry out their search operation for a week over incessant fighting between the local self-defense militia and pro-Kiev troops.
The search resumed after the warring sides agreed on a ceasefire around the airliner wreckage area and on a security corridor for the arrival of experts and their work at the crash site.
The Dutch Safety Board coordinates investigation of the tragedy as of July 23 on the basis of an agreement with the Ukrainian side. The group of international investigators consists of representatives from Australia, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the United States, Russia and Ukraine.
Investigation procedures comply with the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization. The team’s main objective is to establish the causes of the crash and to offer recommendations for furthering the safety of flights.
The board does not have the right to apportion blame and to lay responsibility for the tragedy on anyone. These issues stay within the scope of powers of the Dutch prosecutorial authorities.
Simultaneously, the board is working to provide answers to another two questions - why the jet was traversing precisely that path and why the list of passengers, who had checked in for the flight, was not accessible after the tragedy. Conclusions on them will most likely be known before the publication of the final report.