There is still no clear indication as to the location or status of the two flight recorders from the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 which crashed in eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian deputy prime minister Vladimir Groisman, who is heading the commission investigating the 17 July crash, says there is no information on the location of the recorders.
While access to the recorders would be a “significant step forward” in the inquiry, Groisman’s office states that it “does not rule out” the possibility that they have been removed from the site by militants.
Typically the flight recorders are located in the aft fuselage. Both the vertical fin from the 777 and sections of the rear fuselage have been located at the crash site, but there is no confirmation that the recorders are in the vicinity.
Groisman complains that the “exploratory work” being undertaken by the Ukrainian state emergencies service remains “complicated” by the “pressure” from armed personnel.
Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council says the country’s authorities “still do not have” the recorders, and has expressed concern that third parties could “distort” the information contained on them.
The supposed governing representative of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic has reportedly said that certain items – possibly including the flight recorders – have been transferred to Donetsk under its control.
Based on several factors including increasing quantities of heavy weapons, among them rocket launchers, crossing the border from Russia to Ukraine over the past month, the US embassy in Kiev has underlined its belief that an SA-11 missile was used to attack MH17 from separatist territory.
Although Ukraine has SA-11 systems, the embassy states: “We are confident no Ukrainian air defence systems were within range of the crash. Ukrainian forces have also not fired a single surface-to-air missile during the conflict, despite often complaining about violations of their airspace by Russian military aircraft.”
Groisman believes that the SA-11 requires in-depth military knowledge to operate. “I will never believe that the average gunman can use an [SA-11] system,” he says.