MALAYSIA Airlines, its crew and passengers and the civil aviation system are the objects of this crime and tragedy. The finger-pointing should not be at them, but at the criminals - James Fallows of the New York Times.
Why must it always take others to see logic in such a tragedy when some Malaysians themselves are so profound of making stupid and illogical allegations?
This is a good piece for those stupid Malaysians:
as soon as the news broke about the shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines
flight over Ukraine people began to ask: What was a commercial aircraft
doing over a conflict zone in the first place? Was this disaster
somehow the airline's fault?
The answer is no — but to understand why, you have to look at the complex realities of modern commercial aviation.
Airlines, already world famous because of the still-missing flight
MH370, appears to have been following all normal safety rules. And the
rules governing airline flights over danger zones, including Ukraine,
reflect the balance between the risks inherent in any flight and the
efficiency on which the world airline system depends.
principle, every airline flight can minimise travel time, emissions,
fuel burn and overall cost by taking the most direct point-to-point
In practice, everything about commercial aviation
involves making adjustments to that ideal direct routing, all of which
is managed by the international air control system.
flight, an airliner's crew coordinates with company dispatchers about
any necessary deviations from the desired route. During flight, they
make further adjustments — to avoid thunderstorms, for example.
They often request route shifts to the north or south, or changes of altitude, to find smoother air or more favourable winds.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has jurisdiction over
American pilots and airlines, and its international counterparts
maintain constantly updated "special notice" sites of airspace to avoid.
The administration's current list urges great caution for
flights over hot spots like Yemen, North Korea and Syria, and it
prohibits low-level flights (below 20,000 feet) over some sites in
Somalia and Iraq.
Since April, the FAA has flatly prohibited all
flights by American carriers over the Crimean region of Ukraine — but
not over the region 200 miles to the north where the Malaysia Airlines
flight was shot down (although some foreign airlines, like Air France,
had already adopted prohibitions on flying over Ukraine more or less
Such explicit prohibitions are critical, because the
entire aviation system works on the premise that unless airspace is
marked as off-limits, it is presumptively safe and legal for flight.
airlines want to minimise cost and time by going as directly as
possible, and they rely on regulators to tell them where they cannot go.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 took off on Thursday, its crew and
dispatchers would have known that a few hours earlier Ukrainian
authorities had prohibited flights at 32,000 feet and below across
eastern parts of their country, "due to combat actions... near the state
border" with Russia, as the official notice put it, including the
downing of a Ukrainian military transport plane earlier in the week.
when they crossed this zone at 33,000 feet, they were neither cutting
it razor-close nor bending the rules, but doing what many other airlines
had done, in a way they assumed was both legal and safe.
Legal in much the way that driving 63 in a 65-mile-per-hour zone would be.
safe, not just for regulatory reasons, but because aircraft at cruising
altitude are beyond the reach of anything except strictly military
During take-off and landing, airliners
are highly vulnerable: They are big, they are moving slowly and in a
straight line, they are close to the ground. But while cruising, they
are beyond most earthbound criminal or terrorist threats.
This is why, even during wartime, airliners have frequently flown across Iraq and Afghanistan.
restricted zone over Ukraine was meant to protect against accidental
fire or collateral damage. It didn't envision a military attack.
each crash, disaster or terrorist episode, it is natural to point
fingers and say, Why didn't we foresee that specific threat? Thus one
attempted shoe bombing leads to a decade of shoes-off orders in security
The truth is that air transportation, like most other
modern systems, could not operate if it fortified itself against every
Malaysia Airlines, its crew and passengers and
the civil aviation system are the objects of this crime and tragedy.
The finger-pointing should not be at them, but at the criminals.
The New York Times News Service