SEPANG: Flight MH17 followed all aviation regulations only to fall victim to rules of war broken on the ground, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
“In an unacceptable act of aggression, it appears that MH17 was shot down; its passengers and crew killed by a missile,” he told a press conference yesterday.
Despite questions from foreign media which implied that Malaysia Airlines was to be blamed, Liow was firm in setting the record straight, saying the only one to blame were the perpetrators.
He said officials from Eurocontrol, the body which approves European flight paths under international civil aviation rules, had stated that some 400 commercial flights, including 150 international flights, would cross eastern Ukraine daily before the crash.
“They also stressed that in the two days before the incident, 75 different airlines flew the same route as MH17.
“The aircraft flight path was a busy major airway, like a highway in the sky, and it followed a route which was set out by the international aviation authorities, approved by Eurocontrol and used by hundreds of other aircraft,” he said.
MAS operations director Captain Izham Ismail said the airline even conducted its own threat assessment prior to the flight, ascertaining that the route over eastern Ukraine was safe.
“The route was also validated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
“Safety is paramount to us on all our flights. The aircraft did not deviate from its flight path and there was no hurricane on that day,” he said, dismissing talk that the flight had deviated from its path.
He also dispelled speculation on social media that MAS pilots had previously warned that the particular route was dangerous.
“I am aware of tweets saying pilots had reported about the danger of using the route. This is false.
“None of our pilots have done so as we have conducted our own threat assessment and followed ICAO’s guidelines,” he said.