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Friday, 18 July 2014

Malaysian flight pilot diverted plane into danger zone, instructed to fly lower

Simon Tomlinson and Michael Seamark and Louise Eccles and Will Stewart and Ted Thornhill
Daily Mail

The pilot of MH17 radioed that he 'felt uncomfortable' about the route he was flying while over Ukraine and fatally altered his course to hostile territory, according to an expert.

Dr Igor Sutyagin, Research Fellow in Russian Studies from the Royal United Services Institute, believes that MH17 was shot down by rebels based in the 3rd District of Torez, in eastern Ukraine, after mistaking his plane for a government military transport aircraft.

He told MailOnline that information had been leaked from a source he was unwilling to name that the pilot of MH17 'felt bad' about his course over Ukrainian airspace, so changed direction.

Little did he know, according to Dr Sutyagin, that his plane would then be mistaken by rebels who brought it down using a ground-to-air Buk missile system. Malaysia Airlines today denied that the plane was told to alter its course.

His comments come as Vladimir Putin called for a ceasefire by pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces to allow for negotiations.

Dr Sutyagin's theory appears to be supported by a route map which shows the passenger plane travelling on a different course to the ones taken by the previous ten MH17 flights.

Twitter user Vagelis Karmiros collated the information from Flightaware, the largest flight tracking website in the world.

He said: 'There is a Ukrainian mechanised brigade blocked by separatists near the Russian border.

'It's blocked on three sides by separatists and behind the brigade is the Russian boarder, so they can't get out. The Ukrainians try to resupply them from the air by transport aircraft.

'Now, the pilot of MH17 said that he "felt bad" and wanted to change course south to get out of the danger zone. But several kilometers to the south is a Ukrainian Army heavy transport plane, an IL76, or Candid, which has the same echo as a 777 on a radar screen.

'The two planes came close. They tried to shoot down the transport delivering supplies to the brigade. They believed that they had been firing at a military plane, but they mistakenly shoot down a civilian airliner.'

His comments came as Malaysia Airlines said it filed a flight plan requesting to fly at 35,000 feet through Ukraine airspace but was instructed by Ukraine air traffic control to fly at 33,000. It would still have been in range of the missile were it flying at the higher altitude however.

Rescue workers, police and even coal miners are today combing the site where a Malaysian Airlines jet crashed after being shot from the sky by a surface-to-air missile, scattering wreckage and bodies across the Ukrainian countryside.

Ukraine accused pro-Russian separatists of shooting down the plane which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 298 people on board, while the Russian media today blamed everyone but pro-Moscow rebels for the Malaysia Airlines horror.

One theory explored by TV and newspapers was that the Ukrainian armed forces may have shot the Boeing out of the sky after mistaking it for Vladimir Putin's official Ilyushin jet.

The Kremlin leader was flying back to Moscow from Brazil at around the same time that the Boeing 777 was downed, stated TV and newspaper reports.

Evidence for the theory seems scant, but an anonymous source in Russia's Federal Agency for Air Transportation was quoted saying that there was a crossover flight path between the doomed Malaysian aircraft and Russian plane 'number one' used by Putin.

A source at the agency was quoted by Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper as saying: 'Vladimir Putin's plane could have been a target for a Ukrainian missile.'

NTV cited a source from the same body as saying: 'I can say that the routes of plane Number One and the Malaysian Boeing crossed at the same point and on the same altitude.

'It was near Warsaw at altitude 10,100 metres, echelon 330. The plane Number One was at that point at 16.21 Moscow time, the Malaysian plane was there at 15.44 Moscow time.'

The source also said that the 'plane' contours are similar in principle, the real sizes are also similar, and 'as for their liveries then at the distance they are almost identical'.

Putin's equivalent of Air Force One is a specially modified Ilyushin, the Il-96 300. It is a four-engine long distance aircraft, with a length of 55 metres, and a wingspan of 60 metres.

The Boeing 777-200 is 63 metres long, and its wingspan 61 metres. 

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