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Better guidelines needed on flying over conflict zones

Malaysia Airlines MH17 plane is thought to have been caught up in the crossfire of an ongoing conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian military forces in the region. Questions are being raised over why the area was deemed safe for commercial airlines.

LONDON: International monitors have arrived at the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 plane which went down in rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine.

The flight is thought to have been caught up in the crossfire of an ongoing conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian military forces in the region.

Questions are being raised over why the area was deemed safe for commercial airlines.

The Boeing 777 was en route to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed in eastern Ukraine - an area which has been in conflict for over two months now.

As the wreckage of the aircraft lies in rebel-held territory, aviation expert Chris Yates argued that better guidelines on flying over conflict zones are needed.

"I think there's no doubt that the guidelines do need to be tightened," Yates explained. "At the end of the day, it has been known for a couple of weeks or possibly a bit longer that the Russian rebels were targeting military aircraft and it doesn't take a great stretch of imagination to think that if they're targeting military aircraft, (it’s possible) that a civilian aircraft might get into the crossfire."

While both Moscow and Kiev play the blame game, airlines have announced they will set flight plans to avoid eastern Ukraine.

Yates said the impact is only likely to be minimal as it affects a small but key number of flights.

He said: "That will put time on the flight. It will probably take about an hour, an hour and a half extra to get to your destination. It might also, if this is going to last a particularly long time, push up the price of airfares as well."

Aircrafts are now on diversion to avoid a similar disaster but for the families of the victims, it's too little too late.

298 people were on board the plane when it crashed in the Luhansk region. As the investigation begins into how and why this happened, the debate over whether passenger aircrafts should be allowed to travel over conflict zones also remains firmly in the spotlight.

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