Singapore Airlines Flight SQ351 Minutes Away When Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 Was Shot Down
By Vittorio Hernandez | August 6, 2014 9:37 AM EST
Transport operators would often downplay accidents involving their vessels, coaches or jets, especially near misses, but in the case of a Singapore Airlines Flight SQ351, it was Singaporean Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew himself who admitted it was only minutes away from suffering the same fate as Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 which was hit by a missile and crashed with all 298 people on board.
A woman walks past a Singapore Airlines (SIA) logo at a ticketing booth at Changi airport in Singapore May 14, 2013. Singapore Airlines Ltd, caught between the rapid emergence of Gulf carriers and low cost Asian rivals, is attempting a big strategy overhaul to revive growth, pushing into the low-cost segment and expanding its regional network. Picture taken May 14, 2013. REUTERS/Edgar Su
"At the time of the downing of MH17, flight SQ351 from Copenhagen was estimated to be approximately 90 kilometres away," News.com.au quoted Lui's written response to questions from Singaporean legislators.
He explained that on July 17, the day the Malaysia Airlines plane was downed by a missile suspected to have been fired by Ukrainian rebels, there were no restrictions then for flights higher than 32,000 feet or any information on threats to aircraft at that height. Thus, many European and Asian air carriers continued to use the airspace where MH17 was hit.
The minister added, quoted by Channel News Asia, "Under international law, Ukraine is responsible for putting in place measures to ensure the safe passage of civilian aircraft. Since the Ukrainian authorities continued to allow commercial flights in Dhipropetrovsk FIR about 32,000 feet, no national aviation authorities, no regional aviation bodies nor ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organisation) had provided any advisories to avoid that part of Ukrainian airspace."
Besides SQ351, another commercial flight that showed up on Flightradar 24, an air traffic tracking site, was Air India Flight AA1113 which was travelling from New Delhi to Birmingham.
Liu also told Parliament that the country's Civil Aviation Authority is studying ways to improve information sharing between air carrier companies and aviation authorities.
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