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Did Jet Airways, Air India fly over Ukraine? Airlines say no, sat data says yes

Monday, 21 July 2014 - 6:26am IST | Agency: dna

Jet Airways and Air India statements that they have been avoiding air space over Ukraine ever since the crisis began is the hottest talking point among aviation experts.

On Friday, a day after the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a missile over Ukraine, both Airways stated: "Jet Airways would like to assure its guests that none of the Jet Airways flights to and from Europe fly through the Ukrainian airspace ever since the conflict began and we continue to avoid the Ukrainian airspace in the prime interest of the safety of our guests".

A civil aviation ministry statement said almost the same thing about Air India. "There was no Air India flight near the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines plane at the time of the incident," it said/

Travel enthusiasts rubbish the claims, saying data from flight tracking websites clearly show a Jet Airways flight along the same route, just two hours before MH17 was shot down.

Devesh Agarwal, an aviation enthusiast who scanned satellite-based flight tracking websites like FlightAware, PlaneFinder, and FlightRadar24, found Jet Airway's statement to be false .

"Radar-tracking data shows that Jet Airways flight 9W119, which departed from London at 8:39am on July 17 for Mumbai, flew almost the same air corridor north-east of Donetsk over the village of Shakhtars'k, the crash site of MH17, just about two hours before the ill-fated airliner was blown out of the sky," he said in his blog bangaloreaviation.com.

The flight-tracking websites are based on a system, under which on-board electronic equipment sends data about an aircraft's position via the Global Positioning System (GPS).

It also informs the aircraft's identity, location, altitude, speed, etc. via radio link signals. Ground receivers pick up these data, which is then used by air traffic control and flight-tracking sites.

However, data procured from FlightPath by Live From a Lounge , a blog, shows Air India Flight 113 was only 25 km away from the crash site.

"No one should fault an airline for flying over the conflict zone, because the airspace above 32,000 feet was an open corridor for air traffic. So, no one was doing a wrong thing by flying at that altitude. But to try and distance themselves from the tragedy by lying to the public does not get my sympathy to either of the two airlines (Air India and Jet Airways)," the blogpost said.

On Sunday, a Jet Airways spokesperson said the airline did not come out with any wrong statement.

"Jet Airways ceased flying over the Notified Ukrainian airspace as per the directives received by all airlines since the beginning of the conflict. We have now, effective 17th July 2014, completely ceased flying through the entire Ukrainian airspace."

An Air India official, too, said that since the crisis began in Ukraine, they have been avoiding core conflict areas. But since the MH17 tragedy, the entire Ukraine airspace is being rerouted, he said.

 




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