A PRELIMINARY report into the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine which killed all 298 people on board, including 37 Australian citizens, has been released.
The investigation – led by the Dutch Safety Board and assisted by experts from Australia, Britain, Germany, Malaysia, the US, Ukraine and Russia – covered the cause of the crash, the decision-making around flight routes and the availability of passenger lists.
It concluded that a large number of high-energy objects smashed through the aircraft mid-air, causing the fuselage to break up before crashing to the ground in separatists’ territory.
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The report also found that the black box recording from the cockpit ended abruptly and that the engines were running at cruise power up until the point when the recording stopped.
According to the findings, MH17’s flight plan was approved by all the usual air-traffic control centres and had only changed course over Ukraine to avoid thunderstorms.
The report also stated that there was no evidence that the flight recorder had been tampered with before it was handed over to officials.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott welcomed the findings, saying they were consistent with the government’s statement that MH17 was shot down by a large surface-to-air-missile.
“The ICAO’s preliminary findings make clear that the tragic downing of MH17 was not due to aircraft malfunction or pilot error,” Mr Abbott said in a statement.
“The international community must remain focused on finding, prosecuting and punishing the perpetrators of this cowardly attack.
“We owe this to the innocent victims of the MH17 downing and their families.”
A final report is expected within a year.
Read more at The Sydney Morning Herald