Breaking, horrifying news coming out of Europe today: a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 came down earlier today en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur while flying through Ukrainian airspace. U.S. intelligence officials, according to the Wall Street Journal and other news outlets, are saying that the plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was carrying 283 passengers and 15 crew members; three of the passengers were infants. There are no survivors.
The aircraft went down just short of the Russian border in an area mired in conflict, fueling speculation that pro-Russian separatists might be responsible for the crash. Nothing has been confirmed, though Ukraine president Petro O. Poroshenko is calling it ”a terrorist act,” according to the New York Times.
In the meantime, major airlines are diverting flights around eastern Ukraine. Some airspace over Ukraine was already subject to flight restrictions prior to the crash; the IATA has issued a statement saying that it believes MH17 was not traversing restricted space.
This comes just four months after Malaysia Airlines flight 370, also a Boeing 777 plane, went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew members aboard. With no crash site, debris, or clear evidence of what happened to MH370, the airline was just beginning to take steps to recover consumer trust and confidence in the company. According to Malaysia Airlines commercial director Hugh Dunleavy in an interview three weeks ago, the company was also planning to resume a business transformation plan, including a fleet refreshment, which it initially started a couple of years earlier.