Crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17/Investigation

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UN Security Council

Resolution 2166 adopted on July 21, 2014:

  • Supports efforts to establish a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines;
  • calls on all States to provide any requested assistance to civil and criminal investigations related to this incident;
  • Calls on all States and actors in the region to cooperate fully in relation to the international investigation of the incident,
  • Demands that those responsible for this incident be held to account and that all States cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability;

The resolution fails to demand that the investigation is transparent.

In July 2015 the UN Security Council tries but fails to declare the downing a criminal act.

Dutch Safety Board

According to the DSB these 7 states participate in the investigation: The Netherlands, Malaysia, Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia.

Preliminary Report

Main article: Crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17/Dutch preliminary report

Final Report

No longer accessible on 27 Aug., 2016.
  • Safetyboard.nl carries the report plus appendices (link updated and works, as of 27 Aug., 2016)

Russian Response

Federal Air Transport Agency of Russia response and attachments (Word); Ruaviaton.com (dated January 14, 2016 on the web site)

Many issues raised with final report, including too much weight loss and deformation of fragments still having bow shape, inadequate model of warhead fragment angles and velocities (different from manufacturer), issues with fuselage damage used for warhead positioning (some known hits ignored, grazing hits not taken into account properly), fuse engagement algorithm not taken into account, etc. Concludes that launch area was incorrectly calculated in the final report; that missile had to cross the path at an angle of at least 50-60 degrees, with the best location (if that was Buk at all) placed near Zaroshenskoe.

Official letter on MH17 investigation by top Russian aviation official Oleg Storchevoy, 9 Feb, 2016


Analysis

In a scathing letter to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Oleg Storchevoy, Russia’s deputy director of the Federal Air Transport Agency and accredited representative in the international investigation team into the MH17 tragedy, accused the DSB of ignoring “comprehensive information” relating to the investigation provided by the Russian side.
The TNO conclusions on the detonation have been cited by the NLR for substantiating its conclusions on the missile which brought MH17 down. NLR’s conclusions are the substantiation which DSB cites for its conclusions for the cause of the crash. So the DSB spokesman, Sara Vernooij, was asked from what source did the DSB obtain the parameters of the missile and warhead which have become the evidence for the DSB’s determination that a Buk missile was the sole cause of the MH17 crash. Vernooij said the DSB will not answer. “If it’s not in report, it is not to be released,” Vernooij said.
  • Best = worst? Appendix Y calls for 'negligible damage on the right wing as one of assessment points (why the right wing?), as well as for 'warhead fragment elements' damage on the left nacelle. Figure A7, based on Almaz -Antey theory, show damage on left nacelle and left wing; yet is declared the poorest match (A2 -table A1). The 'best' one, Figure A4, gives some hits on the right wing. It is noted by Almaz-Antey that left wing and nacelle damage is caused by pre-formed elements and not by other missile parts--traces are of few (maybe 8) millimeters size, and there was penetration deep into the engine; at a distance 20 m, that may only be caused by preformed elements.

Joint Investigation Team (JIT)

The Dutch, Ukrainian, Australian and Belgian governments have announced that the JIT is bound by its founding agreement on August 7, 2014, to keep confidential the evidence it has been finding.

Almaz-Antey

Main Almaz-Antay investigation

Press conference, offer to do experiment

Almaz-Antey press conference, 13.10.2015.

  • MH-17: fragments were moving along the plane, not perpendicular -seen from spangouts damage, while some ricochet damage on fuselage skin can be seen in the pilot cabin area
  • Two experiments, to confirm previous modeling: (1) based on Almaz-Antey assumption, arriving almost perpendicular from Zarochenskoe (aluminum plates used as targets) (2) International investigation assumptions, arriving from Snezhnoe (IL-86 nose part, and aluminum target representing left engine). 9M38M1 missile used in the second experiment.
  • In (1) version, fragments were moving along the plane, as predicted, and left engine area received damage
  • In (2) version, it can be seen on high speed camera, around 49:56 time mark on video, that right side area is penetrated by high velocity fragments; one right window is broken, another had holes in it (windows are reinforced and thick). Those fragments will damage right engine and wing. Left engine target received no damage.
  • Damage field looks similar, with appropriate choices made; but direction of fragments is almost perpendicular in the two versions.
  • Clear double-T (='bow-tie'; = 'butterfly') shaped holes are seen. Those fragments will be 1/4 of all 7000 fragments, and double T holes will be seen, no matter what the angle is.
  • 3 different types of elements overall, double-T, square, and small squarish inserts--the latter not found. Double T mass is 8.1 grams, and fragments will loose not more than 8% of the mass, or else will be unrecognizable.
  • Older 9M38 missile was used, last produced in 1986. It was past expiration date and decomissioned in Russia
  • Rocket engine will run for 18 seconds, the rest of 40 second flight is not engine-powered.

Presentation looks solid, some questions previously raised were answered.

  • English language slides of presentation: /doc/284722224/Slideshow-van-Almaz-Antey (Viewer link) (Dropbox link)
  • English language summary of findings: /doc/284718444/Resultaten-Almaz-Antey

(both on a site that is for some reason blocked by the spam filter: scribd DOT com)

Independent investigations

Secondary sources on investigations

Spiegel Online interviews Fred Westerbeke, the Dutch lead investigator of flight MH17 crash.
"The government should not put up with being sidelined in the (criminal) investigations. The airliner belonged to Malaysia, a big group of the victims were Malaysian," said Kua.
Tries an investigation into the investigation and runs into a wall of silence, with some exceptions like Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt. Says Omtzigt:
“…As to the intel, it is worth noting that both sides do not put the evidence on the table. That is worrying. This is one of the most closely guarded spots on the earth in terms of eavesdropping, satellite monitoring and much else from two sides (Russia and United States with allies). Both sides know a lot more that they are willing to share with the world community.”

30 million dollars reward for information leading to the perpetrators

September 17, 2014: "The fraud investigation company Wifka has been charged with investigating the shoot down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. Their client is providing 30 million dollars as a reward for information and evidence. [...] The money is securely deposited in Zurich, Switzerland. It will be paid there or in a different neutral place of the whistle-blower’s choice. Wifkas client offers to give the whistle-blower a new identity. Please contact ..." (as reported by Capital, Der Spiegel etc)

On November 24, Wifka investigator Josef Resch announces in an interview with Capital, calling for "a second Snowden", that an additional 17 million dollars will be rewarded for hints exposing the cover-up of the investigation. He calls the recent BND remarks blaming Separatists a "Schmarrn", which is a Bavarian slang word that could be translated as "poppycock". According to him, "every conspiracy theorist in the world" has contacted him by now, and some have tried to sell elaborate fakes. But he's also in contact with "serious informants".

On June 15, 2015, Capital reports that Resch was already paid for success after finding an informant that had credible information worth the reward. Resch expects "something to happen" soon. On March 15, 2016, Resch's private house was raided by the police in search of evidence for war crimes. The evidence found in that raid led to the opening of a safe at a Swiss Bank in June 2016 on behalf of the Dutch investigation.