The flight route

The path Flight 17 took on Thursday was similar to its previous routes.

Where it happened

Flight 17 crashed in a separatist-controlled area where fighting has recently been heavy.

Passenger and crew nationalities

Among the 298 people aboard Flight 17 were several delegates to an international AIDS conference in Melbourne and three infants. The one U.S. citizen known to be aboard the flight, Dutch dual-national Quinn Lucas Schansman, 19, was travelling to Kuala Lumpur to meet his family for a vacation.

Note: Passengers with dual citizenship appear in both countries of their citizenship — therefore the total exceeds 298 passengers.

Aircraft

Flight 17, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, lost contact with air traffic controllers while flying at an altitude of 33,000 ft.

Wingspan: 200 feet

Length: 209 feet

The Buk surface-to-air missile

The plane likely was shot down by a Russian-made Buk SA-11 missile fired from a separatist-held are of eastern Ukraine, according to a preliminary assessment by U.S. intelligence.

The original Buk SA-11 Gadfly (1979) or the newer Buk SA-17 Grizzly (2007) surface-to-air missile system can track up to six targets simultaneously at various altitudes and directions and can fire as many as three missiles at a single target. Success probability with a single radar-guided missile is 90 to 95 percent.

Missiles
Fuel solid fuel
Maximum ceiling 82,000 ft
Weight 1,550 lbs
Speed Mach 2.5
Launch vehicle
Crew 4
Carries 4 missiles
Readiness time 5 min.
Reloads 12 min.

Turmoil on the ground

Since late June, Ukrainian forces appear to have made three main thrusts into eastern Ukraine’s pro-Russian strongholds, resulting in heavy fighting.

  1. One column has seized the city of Slovyansk and apparently taken a strategic intersection that cuts the main road running between the industrial population centers of Luhansk and Donetsk.
  2. Another column from the vicinity of Mariupol seems to have fought its way along the border to secure the crossings with Russia, then launched an assault on the industrial hub of Luhansk.
  3. A third column appears to have attacked Luhansk from the north.

Notes: A previous version of the flight route map relied on estimated data from FlightAware with a large margin of error. We have since updated the map with data from flightradar24.com. A previous version of this graphic reported an incorrect flight number. Sources: AP, U.S. intelligence officials, Malaysia Airlines, Federation of American Scientists, flightradar24.com, Air Power Australia. Published July 17, 2014.

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