(Updated) There are so many questions that hang in everyone's minds hours after Malaysian Air Flight MH17 crash over the Ukraine today (July 17, 2014). A question that needs to be addressed right away is whether airlines should fly over the Ukraine. It is one of the most popular air-space routes from Europe to Southeast Asia. Since the crash, U.S. carriers with flights over the area have voluntarily agreed to avoid the area. According to the BBC, Eurocontrol, the European flight safety body, has closed the airspace in the eastern Ukraine for European airlines.
In April 2014, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a warning for US commercial flights to avoid the Crimea, Black Sea and Sea of Azov regions. However, according to reports on NBC news, the warning did not extend to the area of the Malaysian Air crash in the Donetsk region, which was about 200 miles from the FAA no-fly zone. The crash is raising question as to whether the no-fly zone was and is too small considering the volatility in the region.
According to aviation experts, it is not unusual for airlines to fly over areas of hostility because jets fly high enough to avoid low-level anti-aircraft weaponry. However, the United States and Ukraine both agree that most likely the plane was shot down by laser-guided anti-aircraft missiles, which once deployed cannot be rerouted. Eurocontrol is reporting the Malaysian Air flight was flying at 33,000 feet (10,000 meters) when it disappeared from the radar.
“Would planes have been routed over Iraq and Iran during Iraq/Iran war? The answer is no. But over Ukraine and Russia at this point? There was probably nothing that was done to avoid flying routes over the area,” said David Fuscus, and aviation consultant and president of Xenophon Strategies to NBC News.
"The action was taken due to the unilateral action by Russia to assert control over Crimean airspace, including international airspace administered by Ukraine without agreement by the International Civil Aviation Organization," said the FAA at the time. However, according to the FAA warning, air operations outside the restricted regions were considered normal (see the exact FAA wording below).
FOX News is reported the the Boeing 777 bound for Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam was shot down at cruising altitude, according to a statement by Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine's Interior Minister. The incident started an immediate accusations among the warring parties. Eastern Ukraine separatist leader Alexander Borodai told Reuters that Ukrainian military forces shot the jet down, but Kiev denied involvement and labeled the incident a "terrorist act."
OPERATIONS ARE NORMAL IN ALL OTHER UKRAINE FIRS. HOWEVER, U.S.OPERATORS AND AIRMEN FLYING INTO, OUT OF, OR WITHIN LVOV (UKLV), KYIV (UKBV), DNEPTROPETROVSK (UKDV), AND ODESSA (UKOV) FIRS, AS WELL AS AIRSPACE IN THE SIMFEROPOL (UKFV) FIR THAT IS OUTSIDE THE LATERAL
LIMITS OF THE AIRSPACE OVER CRIMEA, THE BLACK SEA, AND THE SEA OF AZOV DESCRIBED IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH OF THIS NOTAM, MUST REVIEW CURRENT SECURITY/THREAT INFORMATION AND NOTAMS; COMPLY WITH ALL APPLICABLE FAA REGULATIONS, OPERATIONS SPECIFICATIONS, MANAGEMENT SPECIFICATIONS, AND LETTERS OF AUTHORIZATION, INCLUDING UPDATING B450; AND EXERCISE EXTREME CAUTION DUE TO THE CONTINUING POTENTIAL FOR INSTABILITY.