A screenshot showing flights avoiding the Ukraine shortly after MH17 came down.

A screenshot showing flights avoiding the Ukraine shortly after MH17 came down. Photo: Flightradar24

  • MH17 latest
  • Qantas Airways had not flown over the eastern Ukraine since it shifted its European hub to Dubai last year but it  continued to fly over Crimea and the southern Ukraine until April, airline sources said.

    The Malaysia Airlines operations director, Captain Izham Ismail, on Saturday questioned Qantas’s assertion that it had changed flight paths to avoid the area where MH17 was shot down, because he said the Australian carrier had not been flying in the area.

    A Qantas A380 pilot said he had been flying from Dubai to London over Crimea until the trouble started in the area and then had diverted to avoid the airspace altogether on the suggestion of the airline’s security section.

    “From Turkey, we track over Bulgaria then Romania, thus giving the area a wide berth,” he said.

    The pilot said flights from Singapore to London, which were abandoned when the European hub was switched to Dubai last year, had flown over eastern Ukraine.

    Another source said Qantas had three flight paths from Dubai to London over the Black Sea until April, two of which were over Crimea and one over southern Ukraine. All three were abandoned due to the political turmoil in the region.

    The US Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice to air crews in late April banning US carriers from flying over Crimea, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

    The US advice would not have been binding on Qantas but airlines typically take US and European bulletins on safety very seriously.

    The Civil Aviation Safety Authority is now advising Australian air operators and pilots considering operations in eastern European airspace to take into account all available safety notices and bulletins regarding flights in the Ukraine region.

    “Particular attention should be given to notices issued by the United States Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency,” CASA said.

    “Currently no scheduled Australian air operator flies over Eastern Ukraine.”