Damage to the cockpit gives a clue to loss of flight MH17

Damage to the cockpit gives a clue to loss of flight MH17

The investigation into the downing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 revealed that the cockpit of the aircraft was punctured with a number of “high-energy items.”

This week, the Dutch Safety Board released a preliminary report on the crash of a passenger plane in Ukraine on July 17. The Dutch Safety Board revealed the findings this week in a preliminary report into the downing of a passenger aircraft in Ukraine on July 17.

The report confirms the flight proceeded as planned at 33,000 feet above the restricted airspace in Ukraine. The MH17 crew was in constant communication with all air traffic controllers up until around 1.20 pm local when they stopped responding.

Infographic on MH17

Later, the wreckage was found in a large area (10km x 5km) between Rozsypne & Hrabove (in eastern Ukraine), an area controlled by separatist rebels.

No malfunctions in aircraft

The voice and flight data recorders recovered showed that the aircraft was not alerted or had any malfunctions. According to the report, the crew did not indicate anything unusual during the flight.

The damage to the cockpit area is the most telling clue as to the cause of the accident. Tony Abbott, the Australian Prime Minister, said that the findings of the preliminary report were consistent with the Australian Government’s view that a surface-to-air missile had shot down MH17.

The inside of the cockpit roof shows penetration from objects outside. DCA/Dutch Safety Board

The photos (one shown above) in the Dutch report clearly demonstrate that this damage is not typical of what can be seen in other photographs of the wreckage.

The new photos clearly show that the skin of the forward fuselage has been bent inwards to the circumference of the holes. This is consistent with the penetration of high-energy small projectiles.

Similar penetrations have also been found in the cockpit flooring. It is possible that some projectiles of any warhead may have entered the fuselage above the cockpit and then exited the cockpit through the floor.

Under the cockpit floor

The Electronics and Engineering compartment is located below the cockpit floor, as it is in all modern aircraft. It houses the majority of the aircraft avionics and flight-management computers, along with other ” Black Boxes.” The high-speed projectiles that penetrated the E&E compartment would have undoubtedly caused catastrophic damage to the critical control systems.

It is evident from the evidence of the cockpit voice recording and flight data recording that the aircraft was operating normally up until the abrupt ending of the recording. The evidence suggests that operations were normal up until the moment the power to the recorders ended.

This evidence would lead one to believe that any detonation of a missile was rapid. The investigation must continue to answer other questions.

It is possible (although unlikely) that shrapnel or other debris from a missile could have cut off the power to the recorders and caused them to stop recording. However, the aircraft might have continued to fly for a brief time. It is possible that shrapnel in a missile penetrated the cockpit and caused it to stop recording. However, the aircraft may have continued flying for a short time.

What pilots still know

If the bodies of the pilots were recovered, then a post-mortem analysis would shed light on the last crucial seconds.

The identification of bodies recovered from the crash site appears to be continuing. It is not known if the bodies of the cockpit crew or pilots have been identified, examined, and found.

The pattern of the wreckage will reveal the vital few seconds that passed between the time the report states the plane “broke apart in the air” and the last minute.

The crash site has been littered with other parts of this aircraft, including pieces from the landing gear, both engines and wings. A vertical tail, still attached to the upper rear fuselage, was also found.

The flight data recorder can be used to determine the last position of the aircraft during flight. The wreckage is distributed by section. Dutch Safety Board

The area map in the report shows the accident site to be many degrees away from the flight path that the aircraft was supposed to be on.

It could have been simple mistakes in the map. If the map is accurate, then it can be speculated that the aircraft didn’t immediately or completely disintegrate when the missile was detonated.

The engines and other heavy components would have most likely followed ballistic trajectories down to the ground, roughly in the same direction as the flight.

There are many lessons to be learned.

The rest of the investigation might seem a bit academic to those who only care about bringing the perpetrators of this horrendous crime to justice. It is crucial to understand exactly what happened in order to ensure that all lessons are learned.

If, for example, the aircraft flew on, even if only briefly, but the recorders failed to record due to a power failure, the design of the writers might need to change to avoid this happening again in the future. Understanding the effects of missile attacks on airliners will be very helpful in future aircraft and airliner design.

In the last 100 years, aviation safety has improved by learning from past failures. All those lives lost will not have been in vain if we know from this tragedy.

The governments that are involved in the investigation seem to have no doubts about allowing the investigation to proceed as it is. It is important to recover all wreckage on the ground so that a proper forensic analysis can be conducted.

The longer it takes, the less certainty there will be in learning from this tragedy.


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