Malaysia wants ATC tapes

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Event.png Malaysia wants ATC tapes Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Date2014/08/08 12:00:00 PM - Present
DescriptionMalaysia wants the ‘missing’ Ukrainian ATC tapes

Ukraine's ambassador to Malaysia Ihor Humennyi, in an exclusive interview with the New Straits Times, said that reports alleging that the SBU had seized the recordings had not been independently verified or confirmed by Kiev.

“There is no proof or any evidence that the tapes were confiscated by the SBU. I only read this in the newspapers.”

  • Note that this is not, strictly speaking a denial that the SBU had seized the recordings.

Asked if the tapes had been handed over to the investigators, Humennyi said: “We don’t have any information that it had not been given to the investigation team or that it was not received by the (team of international) investigators". Humennyi said that if a formal request was made by Malaysia or the international investigation team, Ukraine would extend its cooperation. At one point, Humennyi seemed to question the significance of the ATC tapes, saying that “it is just the same as the flight data and cockpit voice recorders”.

In this matter, he seems to have been badly-briefed:

  • The CVR will only reveal what ATC said to MH17, not conversations with other aircraft in the area (or show that there weren't any). Ukrainian radar data will also show what (if any) other aircraft were in the area.
  • All aviation frequencies are under the control of the FIR sector - not just the ones in regular use. See here for some common civvy ones in Ukraine or here (and search for Kiev) to find 22 military ones.
  • An accident investigation HAS to consider ALL possibilities - including what OTHER aircraft were in the area. Only ATC data can help with that - The Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) won't.

Humennyi said that "if a formal request was made by Malaysia or the international investigation team, Ukraine would extend its cooperation".

  • This doesn't exactly appear to be acting in the spirit of the UN Resolution, or in accordance with standard aircraft-accident investigation procedures. It is normal to impound the ATC recordings, obligatory actually, but it should be done by those authorised/certified to do so (in this case authorised/certified by the EASA, probably). What's not normal is confiscation by security services. This evidence is now so tainted that - even if it ever were handed over - it would be of doubtful value.

This quote from a WikiPedia editor on the subject is classic: "::My thinking on notability is this: what is the most damning thing that could possibly be on that ATC tape? That a Ukrainian controller sent the aircraft, along with many others, down a corridor that international agencies considered safe? It suddenly became unsafe when somebody gave the guerrillas a launcher that could reach airliner cruise altitude, and that happened with no warning."

Actually: "the most damning thing that could possibly be on that ATC tape" - is that miltary aircraft were operating close by the civilian aircraft - directed by Ukrainian ATC. Needless to say, the subject of the missing Ukrainian ATC tapes is not likely to appear in the english-language WikiPedia article.