MH17: Communication shot down
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Posted: 5 November 2014 | Nico Voorbach
A critical breakdown in the information network was a key factor behind the shooting down of Malaysia airlines MH17 over Ukraine this summer, says Nico Voorbach, President of the European Cockpit Association
A critical breakdown in the information network between airlines and countries was a key contributory factor behind the shooting down of Malaysia airlines MH17 over Ukraine this summer. That’s the damning assessment of Nico Voorbach, President of the European Cockpit Association (ECA), which speaks for 38,000 pilots across Europe.
In July this year, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over the Ukraine as it entered airspace around continued fighting between the Ukraine army and Russian separatists. This incident brought into sharp focus the dangers of flying over or near conflict areas and also produced increased criticism of Malaysia Airlines, which just a few months earlier had lost a plane over the South China Seas that remains missing to this day.
Voorbach says little blame can rest with an airline that had used the accepted threat assessment of threat = intent x capability. He explained: “Since the intent to down a commercial aircraft was considered close to zero the threat was considered almost zero. However some airlines and states had the capability of knowing, based on information they had but not shared, that there was a possibility that a commercial aircraft would be accidentally hit by a missile.”
Voorbach says that guidance for flying over conflict areas is good but threat analysis is the key problem area because of the lack of information sharing as small airlines and countries don’t have the information gathering possibilities to always make pertinent threat assessments themselves.
He adds: “Following this tragic incident, every airline and State is more protective and more cautious but it is essential that we use this momentum to change the way information about conflict zones is shared. ICAO / EASA / EUROCONTROL and others are looking into that but real steps will have to be made to prevent this from ever happening again.”
Last year – Transport Security Expo’s biggest year to date – almost 4,000 senior industry figures from 88 different countries attended the conference with those figures expected to be exceeded in 2014 as the event continues to engage on a global basis.
An enhanced, free-to-attend conference programme this year includes day sessions on Major Events Transport Security, Secure Transportation, Maritime Security and Rail Security alongside the aforementioned Aviation Security conference. The event will also include a Live Demonstration Theatre, which will provide live real-time examples of security scenarios and solutions in action, and a Security Vehicle Zone showcasing the very latest in armoured vehicles for protection of VIPs, celebrities, high net-worth people and cash in transit.
Peter Jones, owner of TRS organiser Nineteen Events, said: “We work closely with the Home Office, the industry and other UK government bodies to ensure we stay current and address the issues at hand at the moment. For the Aviation Security Conference it was essential that we took a close look at MH17 to ensure we play our part in helping to avoid a similar catastrophe in the future.”
Voorbach will be giving a full presentation on the downing of MH17 at Transport Security Expo in December 2014.