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Air New Zealand boosts Bali, seeks ‘temporary’ cabin crew

Air new Zealand Bali cabin crew

Air New Zealand is planning to boost its seasonal Bali service by 80 percent in 2020 as the holiday island’s popularity grows with New Zealanders.

The decision will add 30,000 seats compared with the current season and will see the airline’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner services between Auckland and Denpasar’s International Airport increase to up to six a week between April 11 and October 24.

READ: Boeing to take $US4.9 billion charge for MAX fiasco

The airline currently flies three services a week, increasing to four a week in peak periods such as school holidays.

“By extending our flying season by more than two months, ultimately putting on close to 50 extra return flights, it’s going to be easier than ever for Kiwis to experience the beautiful and diverse destination that is Bali,” Air New Zealand chief revenue officer Cam Wallace said.

In a separate peak period development, the Kiwi carrier is also on the hunt for temporary flight attendants to fly on its international widebody fleet over the southern summer.

The airline said successful applicants would be offered four to six-month temporary contracts and undergo a condensed and intensive regulatory training course before taking to the skies from October.

The pays is around $NZ40,000 per year plus allowances that can boost this to as much as $NZ60,000 annually but it will be prorated for the contract term.

Air New Zealand General Manager Cabin Crew Leeanne Langridge said she was looking for applicants who were resilient, have high learning agility and a natural passion for people.

“While being a flight attendant can be incredibly fun, it’s a demanding role that will push you to perform at your best,” she said.

“You need to be able to cope well under pressure and enjoy the fact that no two days are the same.”

“Many people tell me that they’ve thought about being a flight attendant at some stage in their lives, so this is a great chance for those people to give it a go.”

 

Air Niugini crew ignored alerts prior to ditching

Air Niugini crash alerts ignored
The Air Niugini 737-800. Credit makereta komai @burebasgal via Twitter

The crew of an Air Niugini Boeing 737 that ditched into a lagoon in Micronesia did not follow the airline’s standard operating procedures and ignored a string of ground proximity alerts.

A report by the PNG Air Accident Commission found the crew did not comply with the approach and pre-landing checklists and the approach procedure was not adequately briefed.

It found the pilots heard but disregarded at least 13 aural alerts from the enhanced ground proximity warning system as the aircraft landed in heavy rain at an excessive rate of descent.

The aural alerts were among 16 alerts about the sink rate and the glideslope received during the descent in addition to a visual warning to “pull up”.

The Boeing 737-800  was operating a scheduled passenger flight Pohnpei to Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia with 37 people on board on September 28, 2018, when it plunged into the lagoon about 1500ft short of the runway threshold.

Six people were seriously injured in the crash and one died.

READ: Air Niugini undershoots runway and ends up in the ocean.

Investigators had access to additional information because an engineer was in the cockpit during the crash and recorded the landing on his phone from about 3000ft for recreational purposes.

The report found the approach selected by the pilot in command required a flight path descent angle of 3 degrees but the aircraft was flown at a steep rate of descent averaging 4.5 degrees during the approach with lateral over-controlling that meant it was unstabilized.

The Flight data recorder recorded a total of 17 enhanced ground proximity warnings, eight “sink rate” and nine “glideslope” , with 14 aural alerts after passing the minimum descent altitude.

A “100ft” advisory overrode one of the glideslope aural alerts.

Both pilots failed to recognize the danger, and the co-pilot was ineffective as the support/monitoring pilot, investigators said.

“The crew of P2-PXE were fixated on the task of landing the aircraft and did not notice the visual PULL UP caution alert at the bottom of their PFD,’’ the report said.

“Therefore, they (crew) did not take any positive action to arrest the high rate of descent and avoid landing in the lagoon.

“ In fact, neither of the pilots were aware of the rapidly unfolding unsafe situation.

“The investigation found that the crew had received similar aural alerts on previous approaches in visual conditions where the aircraft was safely landed.

“This would have contributed to the perception that the alerts during the accident approach were nuisance alerts, and therefore disregarded them.”

The pilot in command did not conduct a go-around after passing the minimum approach altitude and subsequent minimum descent altitude despite reasons to do so.

These included the weather, an unstable approach, the rate of descent, glideslope indicator cues, the EGPWS aural alerts and visual “pull up” warning message on the flight display.

“Both pilots were fixated on cues associated with control inputs for the landing approach, and subsequently, were not situationally aware and did not recognize the developing significant unsafe condition of an increasingly unstable final approach,’’ PNG Air Accident Commission Hubert Numani said in a media release.

“The Air Niugini Standard Operating Procedures Manual (SOPM) instructs a non-flying support pilot to take control of the aircraft from the flying pilot and restore a safe flight condition when an unsafe condition continues to be uncorrected, in particular an unstable approach when the aircraft is in IMC and below 1,000ft.

“However, the copilot as the non-flying support pilot did not do so.

“The pilot in command did not carry out the required go-around at the Minimum Descent Altitude.”

A contested recommendation in the report was that a continuous “whoop whoop pull up” hard aural warning in conjunction with the visual alert could have been effective in alerting the crew to the imminent danger and may have prevented the accident.

The  US National Transportation Safety Board, which was a party to the investigation,  disagreed the additional warning would have been effective in alerting the crew.

“NTSB staff believes that the actions of the pilots to disregard the 16 EGPWS alerts and to not comply with Air Niugini policy clearly demonstrate that the crew was unresponsive to guidance that should have prompted a clear and decisive action to initiate a missed approach,’’

“ NTSB staff believes the disregard of the alerts, disregard of the PFD display guidance, and the continuation of an unstable approach demonstrate that any additional guidance, alert, or warning would be similarly disregarded by the flight crew and ineffective in preventing the accident.”

EGPWS manufacturer Honeywell also noted that if made the change it would be unable to certify the system with the US Federal Aviation Administration.

A slew of other recommendations related to flight crew training and testing, standard operating procedures and manuals, safety cards and aircraft evacuations.

“It is important to note that none of the safety concerns brought to the attention of Air Niugini caused the accident,’’ Namani said.

“However, in accordance with International Standards, identified safety deficiencies and concerns must be raised with the persons or organizations best placed to take safety action so as to impede recurrence of similar events.

“Air Niugini Limited took prompt action to address all the AIC’s identified safety concerns in an average time of 23 days from the date of issue by the AIC.”

As a result of the access to the engineer’s video, the AIC also recommended that the PNG regulator conduct a Notice of Proposed Rule Making to require “cockpit imagery in aircraft for safety enhancement”.

 

Boeing to take $US4.9 billion charge for MAX fiasco

Boeing taks $US4.9 billion charge MAX
Southwest Airlines 737 MAX aircraft at Victorville, California. Image: KCAL9.

Boeing will take an after-tax charge of $US4.9 billion in its second quarter to cover “potential concessions and other considerations to the customers” relating to the grounding of the 737 MAX fleet and other delays.

The manufacturer said the charge would result in a $US5.6 billion reduction of revenue and pre-tax earnings in the second quarter.

Analysts expect the charge to wipe out any profit.

“While the entire estimated amount will be recognized as a charge in the second quarter, the company expects any potential concessions or other considerations to be provided over a number of years and take various forms of economic value,’’ Boeing said in a statement issued Thursday US time.

“Additionally, Boeing’s estimated costs to produce the aircraft in the 737 accounting quantity increased by $1.7 billion in the second quarter, primarily due to higher costs associated with a longer than expected reduction in the production rate.

“The increased 737 program costs will reduce the margin of the 737 program in the second quarter and in future quarters.”

The airline also confirmed that it did not believe it would receive regulatory approval for the return to service for the MAX until early in the fourth quarter of 2019 and that 737 production will not return to previous levels until 2020.

It warned the return to service assumption reflected a “best estimate” and that “ actual timing of return to service could differ from this estimate”.

“The second-quarter financial results will further assume a gradual increase in the 737 production rate from 42 per month to 57 per month in 2020, and that airplanes produced during the grounding and included within inventory will be delivered over several quarters following return to service,’’ it said.

“Any changes to these assumptions could result in additional financial impact.”

Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg said the company remained focused on safely returning the 737 MAX to service.

“This is a defining moment for Boeing. Nothing is more important to us than the safety of the flight crews and passengers who fly on our airplanes,’’ he said.

“The MAX grounding presents significant headwinds and the financial impact recognized this quarter reflects the current challenges and helps to address future financial risks.”

Boeing Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith said the manufacturer was taking appropriate steps to manage liquidity and increase its balance sheet flexibility “the best way possible as we are working through these challenges”.

“Our multi-year efforts on disciplined cash management and maintaining a strong balance sheet, in addition to our strong and broad portfolio offerings, are helping us navigate the current environment,” he said.

Boeing’s previous 2019 financial guidance did not reflect the MAX problems and the company said the uncertainty and conditions regarding the return to service meant new guidance would be issued at a future date.

The company is due to release its second-quarter earnings on July 24.

All Nippon Airways targets Southern India

All Nippon Chennai
ANA is the first to operate direct flights Japan and Southern India. Photo: ANA

All Nippon Airways will launch the only direct flights between Japan and Southern India from October when it starts service between Tokyo-Narita and Chennai.

The new route will be ANAs third to India along with flights from Narita to Mumbai and Delhi.

It will operate Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from October 27  using a 169-seat Boeing 787-8 with 46 seats in business, 21 in premium economy and 102 in economy class.

The airline said the expansion would bring the total number of cities it serves to 46 and was the latest in a series of moves to boost its Asia/Oceania network, including the recently announced Narita-Perth service beginning September 1.

READ: Pakistan airspace re-opens to commercial flights.

“It is always exciting to add a new destination, but it is even more significant to be the only carrier offering connecting this growing region with Japan,” said All Nippon Airways senior vice president Seiichi Takahashi.

International passenger service is the main revenue generator for the ANA Group, and we hope to continue improving our market share in this dynamic sector as outlined in our Mid-Term Corporate Strategy for FY2018-2022.

“The new Chennai route will bring ANA’s world-class quality travel service to a beautiful and under-serviced region that is home to millions of potential new customers.”

While Chennai is the home Hindu temples World heritage listed ruins, it also boasts India’s second-biggest harbor and is a major car manufacturing base.

ANA also has its eye on any cargo that can be transported on the new flights.

The airline’s expansion plans have included launching A380 flights to Hawaii and buying a 9.5 percent stake in Philippine Airlines.

Its Perth service will offer travelers from the city one-stop connections cities such as Seattle and San Jose in the US and Calgary in Canada.

In Europe, the airline serves Paris, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Brussels, London, and Vienna.

 

 

Cathay sees mixed fortunes In June

cathay mixed fortunes
A Cathay Pacific A330. Photo: Cathay Pacific.

A solid rise in Cathay Pacific Group’s June passenger numbers has been tempered by the impact of intense competition on long-haul routes and weakening cargo markets.

The airline’s June figures showed passenger numbers on Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon increased 6 percent in June compared to a year ago to top 3.1 million.

The group passenger load factor in June rose 1.4 percentage points to  86.7 percent compared to June 2018  but remained flat for the first six months of the year.

Cargo tonnage slumped 9.1 percent to 163, 977 tonnes in June as the cargo and mail revenue load factor fell by 7.8 percentage points to 62.8 percent. Tonnage was down 5.7 percent for the first half of the year.

READ: why American Airlines needs to lift its customer service.

“Passenger demand remained robust for both business and leisure travel in June, with first and business class load factor reaching its highest level over a decade,’’ Cathay Pacific director commercial and cargo Ronald Lim said.

“However, intense market competition continued to exert pressure on yield. Long-haul regions such as North America and Europe performed behind expectations, particularly on the yield front.

“Such pressure on yield is expected to continue in the coming months.’’

Lim said that weakening market sentiment and impacted both tonnage uplift and yield.

“ With the exception of the Americas, Northeast Asia and mainland China, which had a marginal increase in uplift compared to May, overall volume has seen decline against the previous month and year, with only a short-lived recovery from Asia towards the latter half of June,’’ he said.

“ The outlook for the coming months has not seen signs of volume rebound. We shall further our efforts to maintain a healthy market share by working closely with our forwarders and shippers, and further rationalize our freighter capacity to better match demand.”

The figures came as the airline opened its newly renovated lounge at Shanghai Pudong International Airport.

A330neo sees upgrades to business class passenger experience

passenger experience A330neo
Qatar Airways uses Super Diamond seats on the A380, A350 and 787. Image - John Walton

The business class seats that airlines are choosing to install on their Airbus A330neo aircraft is proving to be one of the most interesting passenger experience trends of recent years.

Despite its new engines, the A330neo is a known airframe with a known cabin footprint, allowing seat makers (and their airline and design house partners) to fully maximize their designs to that space.

But it’s also a new grouping of aircraft within an aircraft’s fleet, with a new set of capabilities that exceeds that of the previous A330ceo generation of aircraft, pushing airlines to add innovation and better passenger experience than before.

READ: Emirates says hola to Mexico City

Kuwait Airways is the latest, and perhaps unexpected, airline to add to this trend. Never a leader in passenger experience, it converted some of its A350-900 aircraft to Airbus A330-800neos

This was one of the few votes of confidence in the smaller of the two re-engined aircraft, which is a similar size to the A330-200s that it already operates.

In passenger experience terms, it’s remarkable how times change — and how quickly.

Just four years ago, Kuwait Airways was announcing the very latest in its business and first-class offerings: a 2-2-2 fully flatbed without direct aisle access, and an outward-facing herringbone in first class. In that case, it was the Cirrus seat which was then from Zodiac Aerospace, now Safran Seats.

This was a very average-to-below-par passenger experience for 2015, certainly in business and definitely in first class, despite the fact that British Airways’ first-class product is essentially a slightly posher finish to a very similar herringbone product.

Now, though, the A330-800neos are seeing a 32-passenger cabin of Collins Aerospace Super Diamond, the key competitor to Safran’s Cirrus and Cirrus NG products.

(Virgin Atlantic recently chose Cirrus NG for its Airbus A350 fleet, and it seems relatively likely — though unconfirmed at Le Bourget — that its Paris Air Show order for the A330-900neo will have the same seats.)

Super Diamond is a very good upgrade for business class passengers from the previous forward-facing option.

A four-year newer seat is also a plus for passengers having to “downgrade” from first class, even if the basic idea is the same.

But it’s also noteworthy in that yet another carrier that was only very recently spruiking its installation of fully flat business class seats without direct aisle access (which was, in fairness, an upgrade for that passenger experience laggard at the time) is now installing herringbone seats with direct aisle access.

Direct aisle access is now firmly in place as the new standard.

Coming back to British Airways, this has a number of pointed comparisons that would not be favorable to the UK’s largest long-haul airline.

passenger experience
BA’s Super Diamond, launching on its A350, offers doors. Image – British Airways

 

BA too had full-flats without direct aisle access as its most recent business class.

BA, too, is replacing those full-flats with a herringbone that exceeds the previous first-class seating offering (although in BA’s case with a seat featuring doors, which is an even further improved experience over the old First seats).

We’re at a place where direct aisle access is becoming so standard that the airlines not offering it — or, like Lufthansa, promising to start installing it on future aircraft but not starting a retrofit programme in advance — are making conscious choices not to be leaders in passenger experience, relying instead on other factors to attract passengers.

That can be (and indeed has been in some cases) a successful strategy, especially for carriers whose route network and connection opportunities offer it.

But the sharks are circling.

If the passenger experience isn’t up to the increasing standard of challengers — whether that’s growing network carriers like Finnair or the long-haul, low-cost carriers who have ordered A330neos in substantial numbers — many people will start voting with their wallets.

 

Boeing 737 MAX relatives call for certification changes

Boeing MAX families
Ethiopian's group chief executive at the crash site. Photo: Ethiopian

The grieving father of a family killed in Ethiopian Boeing 737 MAX crash has slammed the US manufacturer and called for changes to the way aircraft are certified in the US.

The criticism came as Boeing announced it would hire compensation lawyers Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros to administer a promised $US100 million compensation fund to help families of the Ethiopian tragedy and the earlier Lion Air MAX crash.

READ: Boeing sets aside $US100m for MAX families.

The manufacturer said it had also dedicated the first $US50 million to the near-term relief of families of the 346 victims of the two crashes.

Paul Njoroge, whose wife, mother and three children were among the 157 killed in the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10, told a US Congressional hearing of the heartbreak of losing his family and said he bought tickets on the flight because he believed it would be safe.

Njoroge said that all he could think of during recent national days in the US and Canada was of a Boeing 737 MAX plane repeatedly taking control of the pilots to push down the nose and eventually crashing into the ground at 500 mph.

“Nothing was left but a crater,’’ he said in a prepared statement. “ I sat huddled in a small apartment, not being able to return to my house ever.

“I thought of all the celebrations I will be missing with my family.  No more birthdays, no more anniversaries, no more holidays, no weddings for my children, no grandchildren.

“Boeing has never reached out to families about the impossible sorrow and grief we will carry for our entire lives.

“Instead they have a press relations strategy to apologize to cameras and propose half-baked promises to give $100 million to local governments and nonprofit organizations.”

Njoroge said he spoke for all the families who lost loved ones they would never see again “because of the reckless conduct on behalf of many”, particularly Boeing and its attempt to blame the training of foreign pilots.

He criticized the close relationship between the manufacturer and the Federal Aviation Administration and demanded that the 737 MAX 8 be fully recertified as a new plane “because it is too different from the original plane designed at the beginning of the Vietnam War”.

He said the families also demanded simulator training for MAX pilots rather than the computer-based training suggested by the FAA and that recertification takes place only after the completion of all investigations.

Other demands included a return to greater FAA oversight of the manufacturer and that future hearing include those who wrote the software implicated in the crash, technical dissenters, whistleblowers, safety engineers and families.

In a statement announcing the appointment of the compensation lawyers, Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg said the tragic loss of life in both accidents “continues to weigh heavily on all of us at Boeing, and we have the utmost sympathy for the loved ones of those on board.

“Through our partnership with Feinberg and Biros, we hope affected families receive needed assistance as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

The manufacturer said the money distributed by Feinberg and Biros would be independent of any resolution provided through the legal process.

“We know how important it is to assist the families of the victims who have endured a personal tragedy and will work to design and administer the fund and distribute the money as efficiently and expeditiously as possible,” Biros said.

Feinberg’s firm was involved in compensation distribution after the 9/11 terrorist attacks,  the BP Deepwater Horizon fiasco and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

Boeing is facing multiple lawsuits as well as compensation claims from airlines as a result of the MAX crashes.

Emirates says hola to Mexico City

Emirates Mexico City
An Emirates Boeing 777-200LR. Photo: Jesus Aranguren/AP Images for Emirates Airline.

Dubai-based Emirates will add Mexico city to its extensive international network from December 9 with a linked service through the Spanish city of Barcelona.

The new route will be operated with a two-class Emirates Boeing 777-200LR  offering 38 business class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration and 264 seats in Economy Class.

READ:  EU marks MH17 anniversary by calling on Russia to accept responsibility.

Emirates flight EK 255 will depart Dubai at 03:30 local time, arriving in Barcelona at 08:00 before departing again at 09:55 and arriving into Mexico City at 16:15 on the same day.

The return flight EK256 will depart Mexico City at 19:40 local time, arriving in Barcelona the next day at 13:25 before leaving Barcelona 15:10 and arriving at 00:45 the following day.

The airline said this would allow convenient onward connections to numerous destinations in India, South East Asia and the Middle East.

Emirates president Tim Clark said the high altitude of Mexico City, which is at 2240m,  meant it was not possible to fly to the Mexican capital from Dubai and Barcelona was a natural choice as a stopover.

“We are pleased to offer a direct connection on the route between the Spanish city and Mexico City that has long been neglected by other airlines and remains underserved despite the strong customer demand,’’ he said.

Sir Tim said the new daily connection between Mexico City and Dubai was essential for the development of tourism, business and cultural ties.

“Trade, especially in high-value and time-sensitive products, will be facilitated by the ample cargo capacity on Emirates’ Boeing 777 aircraft,’’ he said.

“We also expect tourism to receive a major boost from the daily flights on our newly-refurbished Boeing 777-200LR.”

The new flights were welcomed by Mexico’s Minister of Tourism, Miguel Torruco Marqués, who said Emirates was the 43rd carrier operating international flights into Mexico.

“Emirates’ arrival will bring a significant contribution to our international connectivity network by adding up daily services to Dubai and beyond,’’ he said.

Mexico City is Emirates’ first port in Mexico and the Gulf carrier expects it to be a popular destination for business and leisure travelers from destinations such as the UAE, Spain, India, Pakistan, Singapore, Egypt and Lebanon.

It said Mexico was also home to Middle East communities and Dubai was increasing in popularity with Mexican travelers, with visitor numbers up 32 percent in the first five months of 2019.

Public not so scared of autonomous aircraft

Autonomous public scared
Concept vehicles for Uber's flying taxi project. Image: Uber

A surprising seven out of 10 travelers would be willing to fly in an autonomous aircraft during their lifetime, a new survey says.

But before pilots start looking for a career change, the survey of more than 22,000 people across 11 markets found a much lower proportion — 58 percent —would be willing to board a self-flying plane in the next decade.

Aircraft manufacturers are investigating autonomous aircraft but say it will be many years before commercial airline pilots join the endangered list.

Likely to be quicker to market are companies such as Uber with piloted and then autonomous small aircraft operating as flying taxis.

READ: Uber to conduct air taxi trials in Melbourne.

What the ANSYS Global Autonomous Vehicle Study suggests is that people may not be as averse to the flying without a pilot as many assumed.

Even so, younger people are more willing to take the risk on the concept than older — and possibly wiser — heads.

More than 80 percent of 18-to 24 -year-olds said they were willing to fly autonomously compared to just 45 percent of those aged 65 or older.

And there were concerns across all age groups with technology failure (65 percent) and how an autopilot would respond to external conditions such as turbulence (57 percent).

Surprisingly, 71 percent of respondents had no fears about a safe take-off without a pilot and 76 percent were unconcerned about an autonomous landing.

Less than 10 percent were aware of the extent to which planes are currently flown on autopilot and, when told only the first and last 10 minutes of most recent flight was controlled by a pilot, 36  percent said they would feel safer on an autonomous plane.

On the danger of a fully computerized plane being hacked, 39 percent believed it would be harder than compromising bank accounts, smartphones, computers and self-driving cars.

Urban commuter options such as a flying taxis were supported by 63 percent of respondents.

“Autonomous aircraft are likely to enter service over the next decade, targeting both intra-city and inter-city travel, primarily used in air freight and air taxi business models,’’ said Frost & Sullivan senior research analyst Priyanka Chimakurthi,

“Further automation in large commercial jets will be gradual, first starting with single-pilot operations, followed by fully autonomous operations.

“Undoubtedly, automation will continue to transform air transport, as it has done over the past few decades. However, it will have to overcome numerous challenges, starting with passenger perception, practical constraints as well as battery and propulsion technologies.”

The online survey of 22,041 adults was conducted in the United Kingdom, United States, DACH, France, Italy, Spain, Benelux, Sweden, Japan, China and India between April 26 and May 7, 2019.

MH17 anniversary: EU says Russia must accept responsibility

Mh17 Russia anniversary
Wreckage from MH17. Photo: Joint Investigation Team

The European Union has marked the fifth anniversary of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 with a renewed call for Russia to accept responsibility for its role in the tragedy.

The call comes as relatives of those killed in the atrocity penned a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin demanding that he end the “denials deceit and lies” and some signatories delivered it to the Russian consular officer in Sydney.

The letter accuses the Russian government of hiding the truth and demands that those directly responsible for the crime, along with those in the chain of command,  be held to account.

Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in the shooting down of the Boeing 777 with 298 passengers and crew on board as it crossed Ukrainian airspace while traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014.

It has had surprising support for Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad, who has claimed Russia is being made a scapegoat and that the prosecutions are political.

This is despite extensive evidence gathered by the multi-national Joint Investigation Team that has led to three Russians and a Ukranian being charged with the murder of those on board.

The EU council reiterated its full support “for all efforts to establish truth, justice and accountability for the victims and their next of kin”.

“In this context, the EU welcomes the announcement by the Joint Investigation Team on 19 June 2019 that criminal charges will be brought in the Netherlands against four individuals,’’ it said.

“The EU calls on Russia to accept its responsibility and cooperate fully with the ongoing investigation. The EU expresses its full confidence in the independence and professionalism of the legal procedures that lie ahead.”

READ Russian role in MH17 “deeply immoral”, says Pompeo

The three Russians were named as Igor Vsevolodovich Girkin (48), Sergey Nikolayevich Dubinskiy  (56) and Oleg Yuldashevich Pulatov (52). The Ukranian is Leonid Volodymyrovych Kharchenko (47).

The JIT has shown that MH17 was downed by a Russian-made BUK missile and the Dutch Public Prosecution Service alleges the four men cooperated to obtain and deploy the BUK TELAR that launched the missile at MH17 at the firing location with the aim of shooting down an aircraft.

Under Dutch law, that means they can be held jointly accountable for downing flight MH17 even if that was not their intention.

The men will be prosecuted for causing the crash of the Boeing 777 and the death of all those under one section of Dutch law and their murder under another.

The trial will start on March 9, 2020, before the District Court of The Hague at the Schiphol Judicial Complex.

The charges are the result of a long-running investigation that saw the JIT announce in 2016 MH17 was shot down by a missile from the 9M38 series and the BUK TELAR system from which it was launched was transported from the Russian Federation to an agricultural field near the town of Pervomaiskyi in Eastern Ukraine.

READ:  Social media helps MH17 investigators identify Russian Army unit.

It was from here, investigators say,  the missile was launched and, after firing, it returned to the Russian Federation with one missile missing.

Last year, The JIT concluded the BUK TELAR used to shoot down MH17 came from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, a unit of the Russian armed forces from Kursk in the Russian Federation.

The charges do not mean an end to the investigation and the JIT has yet to publicly identify who actually launched the missile.

 

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