The final report of the Dutch Safety Board released overnight has revealed crucial findings, including verification that Malaysia Airlines operated a flight route over an extremely dangerous conflict area where numerous aircraft had been shot down and destroyed in the days prior to the MH17 disaster.
The findings of the report have solidified our allegations against Malaysia Airlines and we will now prepare for the possibility of a class action or large scale action against the airline.
Shine Lawyers Aviation Law expert Thomas Janson is leading these investigations and has deconstructed the key findings from the report below:
FINDINGS OF THE REPORT
- Cause of the disaster - The cause of the disaster was the detonation of a warhead outside the cockpit of MH17 at 33,000 feet which led to the disintegration of the aircraft. The warhead was fired from a BUK surface-to-air missile system. The report draws no conclusions as to the identity of the party or parties who used or were responsible for giving orders for the surface-to-air missile system to be used against the aircraft.
- Flight route of MH17 - On 14 & 16 July, the Ukrainian government reported that its military aircraft had been shot down over the eastern Ukraine using powerful surface-to-air missile systems capable of reaching the same altitudes of civil aircraft. This constituted an adequate risk to close all airspace over the eastern Ukraine.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) did not sufficiently assess the dangers and risks inherent in flying over a conflict zone. Malaysia Airlines and other operators made assumptions that the airspace over the eastern Ukraine was safe, did not share information regarding their flight plans nor did they avail themselves of publicly known information concerning the significant loss of military aircraft to surface to air missile systems over the eastern Ukraine.
In addition, Malaysia Airlines also did not conduct a rigorous risk assessment to identify the clear and present risks to their aircraft, crew and passengers.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE FAMILIES OF PASSENGERS
- Culpability of parties - The publication of this final report of the Dutch Safety Board gives families of passengers a better understanding of the causes of the disaster and a grounding to consider bringing legal action against the parties.
It is important to note that, despite the Dutch Safety Board’s requests for additional information and documentation, the Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation refused to grant access to officials and documents that the Dutch Safety Board sought to complete the investigation.
LEGAL AVENUES AVAILABLE TO THE FAMILIES OF PASSENGERS
- Dependency Claim under the Montreal Convention 1999 - Family members who are financially dependent upon the passengers may bring an action under the Montreal Convention against Malaysia Airlines for compensation. The limitation period for such an action is two years from the date of the disaster. Any action under the Montreal Convention against Malaysia Airlines is considered to be strict liability, which means that Malaysia Airlines must disprove that they were to blame.
- Action for Nervous Shock against Malaysia Airlines - Shine Lawyers is considering the possibility of bringing a class action or large scale action against Malaysia Airlines on behalf of relatives who have been harmed psychologically as a result of the death of their relatives in the MH17 disaster.
The final report of the Dutch Safety Board shows that Malaysia Airlines operated a flight route over an extremely dangerous conflict area where numerous aircraft had been shot down in days prior to the MH17 disaster without sufficient care for its passengers or crew.
The limitation period for such an action is three years from the date of the disaster. The action will be open to close family relatives of MH17 passengers such as parents, spouses or partners, children (including step children) and siblings (including step and half children).