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ADS-B flight track radar data from FlightRadar24 showing Jet Airways flight 9W117 London to Mumbai overflying the disputed city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine on 16-July-2014.
ADS-B flight track radar data from FlightRadar24 showing Jet Airways flight 9W117 London to Mumbai overflying the disputed city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine on 16-July-2014.

Radar data exposes Jet Airways’ lies on Ukraine over-flights #MH17

Mumbai flight flew over crash site just two hours earlier

Around 3pm in the afternoon of July 18th, a day after the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, India’s largest private airline, Jet Airways, issued a statement assuring the public that the airline did not fly over the Ukraine “since the conflict began” which one would assume was from a few months ago when separatists commenced seceding Crimea from the Ukraine.

“Jet Aiways would like to assure its guests that none of the Jet Airways flights to and from Europe fly through the Ukrainian airspace ever since the conflict began and we continue to avoid the Ukrainian airspace in the prime interest of the safety of our guests.”

However, data from flight tracking sites like FlightAware, PlaneFinder, and FlightRadar24 show this statement to be completely false.

Jet Airways operates four daily flights between London Heathrow and Mumbai and two between London Heathrow and New Delhi. Till the crash of MH17, almost all the flights bound for India flew over the Ukraine.

Jet Airways flight 9W119 London Mumbai flew over MH17 crash site two hours earlier

Close-up of flight track ADS-B radar data from FlightRadar24 showing Jet Airways flight 9W119 overflying Shakhtars'k Ukraine, the crash site of MH17, about two hours before the crash.
Close-up of flight track ADS-B radar data from FlightRadar24 showing Jet Airways flight 9W119 London to Mumbai overflying Shakhtars’k, Ukraine, the crash site of MH17, about two hours before the crash.

Radar tracking data shows that Jet Airways flight 9W119 which departed from London at 08:39am on July 17 for Mumbai flew almost the same air-corridor north-east of Donetsk over the village of Shakhtars’k, the crash site of MH17, just about two hours before the ill-fated airliner was blown out of the sky.

Flight track ADS-B radar data from FlightRadar24 showing Jet Airways flight 9W119 overflying Ukraine on 17-July-2014, just two hours before crash of MH17
Flight track ADS-B radar data from FlightRadar24 showing Jet Airways flight 9W119 London to Mumbai overflying Ukraine on 17-July-2014, just two hours before crash of MH17

Other radar tracks show that Jet Airways, like many other airlines, used to regularly over-fly Ukrainian airspace in the vicinity of the crash site till the crash.

Jet Airways flight 9W-121 London to Delhi flight track

Night of 15-July over the disputed city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine

Flight track ADS-B radar data from FlightRadar24 showing Jet Airways flight 9W121 London to New Delhi overflying Ukraine on 15-July-2014 in the vicinity of the disputed city of Donetsk
Flight track ADS-B radar data from FlightRadar24 showing Jet Airways flight 9W121 London to New Delhi overflying Ukraine on 15-July-2014 in the vicinity of the disputed city of Donetsk
See flight track on FlightRadar24 site.

Night of 16-July over the disputed city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine

Flight track ADS-B radar data from FlightRadar24 showing Jet Airways flight 9W121 London to New Delhi overflying Ukraine on 16-July-2014 in the vicinity of the disputed city of Donetsk
Flight track ADS-B radar data from FlightRadar24 showing Jet Airways flight 9W121 London to New Delhi overflying Ukraine on 16-July-2014 in the vicinity of the disputed city of Donetsk
See flight track on FlightRadar24 site.

Night of 17-July hours after the crash, re-routing to avoid Ukraine

Flight track ADS-B radar data from FlightRadar24 showing Jet Airways flight 9W121 London to New Delhi on 17-July-2014 night, diverting south of Ukraine after the crash of MH17 hours earlier.
Flight track ADS-B radar data from FlightRadar24 showing Jet Airways flight 9W121 London to New Delhi on 17-July-2014 night, diverting south of Ukraine after the crash of MH17 hours earlier.
See flight track on FlightRadar24 site.

Even the airline’s flights from Brussels to New Delhi, 9W-229, flew over Donetsk on the morning of 17-July, mere hours before MH17 was blown out of the sky (see flight track data), and on 18-July, the day after the crash, the flight was routed south over Romania, the Black Sea and Turkey (see flight track data).

We wrote to the airline seeking clarification, however no response was received till the time of publication of this story. We will be happy to publish any response from the airline should it be backed up by flight track data.

What is ADS-B

To most plane spotters who are regular visitors at Bangalore Aviation, ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast) is a known commodity.

ADS-B is a system in which the electronic equipment on-board an aircraft determines its position via the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites and then broadcasts the aircraft’s identity, location, altitude, speed, etc., via a digital radio link signal at 1,090MHz, every half a second. Dedicated ADS-B receivers on the ground pick-up these signal and relay them to air traffic control and central servers of flight tracking sites like those mentioned earlier.

ADS-B is not dependent on radar to show the aircraft’s position and altitude.

Automatic – Requires no pilot input or external interrogation (like from secondary radar systems).
Dependant – Depends on accurate GPS position and velocity data from the aircraft’s navigation system.
Surveillance – Provides aircraft position, altitude, velocity, and other surveillance data.
Broadcast – Information is continually broadcast for monitoring by ADS-B receivers on the ground or other aircraft.

READ ONLINE: About FlightRadar24 ADS-B and how you can participate
READ ONLINE: About FlightAware ADS-B and how you can participate

No need to lie

No one is faulting Jet Airways’ flights over the Ukraine. Almost every airline which flies between Europe and south / south-east Asia did it till the MH17 shoot-down. The air traffic control authorities like Eurocontrol, and global civil aviation authorities like ICAO permitted overflights. The issue at hand is the blatantly false statement.

One fails to understand the need for Jet Airways to put out such a blatantly wrong statement. Yesterday, in a Firstpost report, Ivor Soans debunked the claims by the ministry of civil aviation about Air India flight AI-113 from New Delhi to Birmingham not being in the vicinity of the shoot-down of MH17. In business, as in life, credibility is important, and this is built with consistent integrity and unflinching accuracy.

Is distorting the truth become so compulsive to Indian carriers that it is now second nature for these organisations and the people serving in them? Or do Indian civil aviation stake-holders assume their customers are idiots?

The Indian aviation industry seem to shoot itself in the foot with amazing regularity, destroying what limited credibility they do have. Is there any reason to doubt why almost no one accepts “statements” put out by these airlines and authorities?

Share your thoughts via a comment. Remember Jet Airways is on Twitter @jetairways

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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