Channel NewsAsia

Ukraine authorities instructed MH17 to fly at 33,000 feet

The Ukrainian air traffic control (ATC) did not permit Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH17 to scale 35,000 feet, MAS director of operations, Captain Izham Ismail said on Saturday.

SEPANG: The Ukrainian air traffic control (ATC) did not permit Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH17 to scale 35,000 feet, MAS director of operations, Captain Izham Ismail said on Saturday.

He said MH17 planned to fly at 35,000 feet but according to the ATC, there was other traffic at that time, and the ATC ordered the doomed plane to fly at the next best altitude at 33,000 feet, which was above the restricted altitude.

According to Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai, the direction given by the ATC needed to be obeyed since the route was under the ATC’s jurisdiction.

Izham said the route which MH17 flew was located about 100km from the restricted area, adding the ATC was actually the one which ensured whether any aircraft could use the route.

"The distance between the MH17 path and the restricted area was 100km away. The restricted area is located in the southern part while the MH17 path was 100km north from the restricted area," he told a press conference at the Sama-Sama Hotel in Sepang.

Izham denied reports that MH17 had deviated from its flight path to avoid a hurricane.

"There was no hurricane in that vicinity as confirmed by other flights which came later. We are aware of the tweets and statuses on the social media with regards to pilots reporting they reverted to us regarding the route changes...it is false. There was no report from our pilot," he said.

Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was carrying 283 passengers of different nationalities and 15 crew when it crashed in Ukraine.

The Boeing 777 jet left Amsterdam at 12.15pm (Netherlands time) on Thursday and was to arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 6.10am (Malaysian time) on Friday. 

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia