The Hague: Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in mid-July over pro-Russian separatist-held territory in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.
Here are the main points from a preliminary report released on Tuesday by the Dutch Safety Board (OVV), which is leading the probe:
— Flight MH17 hit by high-energy objects:
The damage to the Boeing 777 forward fuselage and cockpit section appears to “indicate that there were impacts from a large number of high-energy objects from outside.” The observation was made based on pictures taken of parts of the wreckage which shows “multiple holes and indentations”.
— The plane broke up in mid-air:
The wreckage on the ground “suggests that the aircraft split into pieces during the flight” as a result of being hit by the high-energy objects. “The distribution of pieces of the aircraft indicates the aircraft broke up in mid-air.” The wreckage was found over a large area of 10 kilometres (6.0 miles) by 5.0 kilometres, with satellite images supporting the finding.
The report said pieces of the forward part of the plane was found closest to the last registration of the flight data recorder, “indicating that these parts broke off from the aircraft first”.
- Plane was airworthy:
Built in 1997, the Boeing 777 according to documents “was in an airworthy condition at departure, there were no technical malfunctions”. The last maintenance check of the plane was done in April.
— Experienced crew not at fault:
Both captains on flight MH17 had over 10,000 flying hours of which more than 7,000 hours on the Boeing 777. Both first officers had more than 3,000 flying hours, of which a little over 200 hours were in this type of aircraft.
“There are no indications that the MH17 crash was caused by a technical fault or actions of the crew,” the report said.
— Flight proceeded as normal, no distress call
Flight MH17 was flying in unrestricted airspace on a constant heading when its crashed. “No aural warnings or alerts of aircraft systems malfunctions were heard on the cockpit voice recording, which ended at 1320 GMT.
“Crew communication gave no indication that there was anything abnormal with the flight. No distress messages were received by ATC.”
— Black boxes not tampered with
The aircraft’s black boxes were taken by unknown individuals. Separatists who controlled the area handed them over to a Malaysian official. The black boxes were taken to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch in Farnborough in Britain. “No evidence or indications of manipulation of the recorders were found.”
— Further investigation needed:
“The initial results of the investigation point towards an external cause of the MH17 crash,” said Tjibbe Joustra, chairman of the OVV. “More research will be necessary to determine the cause with greater precision,” he said.
The Board aimed to publish a final report within a year of the date of the crash.