Sector Aviation

Investigation crash MH17, 17 July 2014 Donetsk


The Dutch Safety Board is investigating the accident to flight MH17 which occurred at Thursday 17th of July 2014 in the region of Donetsk (Ukraine). The Dutch Safety Board will be doing all it can to provide a clear view of the cause of the accident.

The investigation is operated in accordance with the standards and recommanded practices in  ICAO Annex 13. The state of of occurance (Ukraine) has delegated the investigation to the Dutch Safety Board. To this end agreements were set out in a Memorandum of Understanding between Ukraine and The Netherlands, and in an agreement between the Ukrainian National Bureau of Incidents and Accidents Investigation of Civil Aircraft (NBAAII) and the Dutch Safety Board. The Dutch Safety Board is leading the investigation and co-ordinating the international team of investigators.

In addition to the international accident investigation, the Dutch Safety Board is also conducting two other independent investigations: an investigation into the decision-making process with regard to flight routes and an investigation into the availability of passenger lists.

September 9, 2014
The Dutch Safety Board has issued the preliminary report on the investigation into the crash of MH17 on Tuesday September 9, 2014. The preliminary report presents factual information based on the sources available to the Dutch Safety Board.

In the months to come further investigation is needed before the final report can be written. The Dutch Safety Board  expects to publish the final report within a year after the crash.

Click here (YouTube) to watch the explanation of the premliminary report by Chairman Tjibbe Joustra.

December 9, 2014
Recovery of the wreckage of flight MH17, commissioned by the Dutch Safety Board, began at the crash site on Sunday, November 16, 2014. The recovery was preceded by a long period of preparations. To enable the recovery of wreckage, the Dutch Safety Board agreed certain arrangements with the Ministry of Disaster Management with regard to handing over the wreckage and SES (the Ukraine State Emergency Service) assistance. These documents have now been published. The first document concerns the recovery of the wreckage. The second concerns the period subsequent to the recovery.

On December 9, 2014, two of the four convoys carrying wreckage have arrived at Gilze-Rijen air force base. The transport will be unloaded in accordance with a fixed procedure and will then be photographed, scanned and categorised. The investigation of the wreckage and preparation for the reconstruction effort will then commence.

October 13, 2015
On October 13 the final reports of the investigation into the crash of flight MH17 were published. In addition to the reports there is also a video about the investigation into the causes of the crash of flight MH17 on 17 July 2014 in the eastern part of Ukraine and the  investigation into flying over conflict zones. The video was based on the investigation reports. You can find our YouTube-channel here.

February 25 2016
On 4 and 10 February 2016 Dutch Parliament has asked questions to the Dutch Safety Board. These questions relate to the investigations of the Board into the crash of flight MH17. The Dutch Safety Board has responded to these questions and also issued its response to a letter of the Russian Federation. You can find both responses below (questions are in Dutch).

- Response to questions Dutch Parliament
- Response to letter Russian Federation
- Appendix letter to Russian Federation


  • Start date 18 jul. 2014
  • End date 13 okt. 2015
  • Type investigationFull
  • Status investigationClosed


  • The crash of flight MH17 on 17 July 2014 was caused by the detonation of a 9N314M-type warhead launched from the eastern part of Ukraine using a Buk missile system. So says the investigation report published by the Dutch Safety Board today. Moreover, it is clear that Ukraine already had sufficient reason to close the airspace over the eastern part of Ukraine as a precaution before 17 July 2014. None of the parties involved recognised the risk posed to overflying civil aircraft by the armed conflict in the eastern part of Ukraine.
    In response to the crash of flight MH17 the Dutch Safety Board has conducted various investigations, which have been published in two reports. The first report is on the causes of the crash and the issue of flying over conflict areas. The second report is on the compilation of the passenger list and the process of informing the relatives of the Dutch victims. The rationale behind the investigations has been published separately.
    Buk missile system
    The investigation has shown that flight MH17 progressed normally up to the moment when the aeroplane was flying over the eastern part of Ukraine. At 13.20 UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) a 9N314M warhead, launched by a Buk surface-to-air missile system from a 320-square-kilometre area in the eastern part of Ukraine, detonated to the left and above the cockpit. The forward section of the aircraft was penetrated by hundreds of high-energy objects coming from the warhead. As a result of the impact and the subsequent blast, the three crew members in the cockpit were killed immediately and the aeroplane broke up in the air. Wreckage from the aeroplane was distributed over various sites within an area of 50 square kilometres. All 298 occupants were killed.
    The Dutch Safety Board has established the cause of the crash on the basis of several sources. For example, the weapon system used was identified on the basis of, among other things, the damage pattern on the wreckage, the fragments found in the wreckage and in the bodies of crew members, and the way in which the aircraft broke up. The findings are supported by the data on the flight recorders; the Cockpit Voice Recorder picked up a sound peak during the final milliseconds. In addition, traces of paint on a number of missile fragments found match the paint on parts of a missile recovered from the area by Dutch Safety Board. Other potential causes, such as an explosion inside the aeroplane or an air-to-air missile, have been investigated and excluded. No scenario other than a Buk surface-to-air missile can explain this combination of facts. The 320-square-kilometre area from which the missile was launched has been determined on the basis of various simulations. Additional forensic investigation will be needed to establish the exact launching location; however, such an investigation lies outside the scope of the Dutch Safety Board’s mandate.

    The airspace over the eastern part of Ukraine
    The airspace over the eastern part of Ukraine was much in use: between 14 and 17 July 2014, 61 operators from 32 countries routed their flights through this airspace. On the day of the crash, until the airspace was closed, 160 commercial airliners flew over the area. Malaysia Airlines prepared and operated flight MH17 in accordance with regulations. As the state of departure, the Netherlands had no responsibility to advise Malaysia Airlines (or KLM, as its code share partner) with regard to the chosen flight route.
    On 17 July 2014 an armed conflict was taking place in the eastern part of Ukraine. In the preceding months, the conflict had expanded into the airspace: from late April the number of military aircraft downed increased. According to statements by the Ukrainian authorities, in two cases long-range weapons were used. In the Dutch Safety Board’s opinion, Ukraine had sufficient reason to close the entire airspace over the eastern part of Ukraine as a precaution. Instead, on military grounds flying at lower altitudes was restricted. The same turns out to apply to conflict areas elsewhere in the world: it is rare for a state to close its airspace because of an armed conflict.
    Flying over conflict areas
    The Dutch Safety Board has noticed that the current system of responsibilities with respect to flying over conflict areas is inadequate. Operators assume that unrestricted airspaces are safe. When assessing the risk, the operators do usually take into account the safety of departure and arrival locations, but not the safety of the countries they fly over. When flying over a conflict area, an additional risk assessment is necessary. Therefore, the Dutch Safety Board considers it extremely important that parties involved in aviation – including states, international organisations such as ICAO and IATA, and operators – exchange more information about conflict areas and potential threats to civil aviation. When processing and interpreting this information, more attention should be paid to the development of the conflict, including any increase of military activity and shootings from the ground. States involved in an armed conflict should receive more incentives and better support to safeguard the safety of their airspace. In addition, the Dutch Safety Board is of the opinion that operators should give public account for their flight routes.
    Passenger information
    After the crash of flight MH17 was reported, many relatives gathered at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol , hoping to obtain more information there. At the end of the evening an initial passenger list was made public. It then took two to four days before all of the surviving relatives received confirmation from the Dutch authorities. When gathering information related to the passenger list and determining the identity of the occupants and their surviving relatives, the information that various parties gathered about the victims and their relatives was not combined.  The Dutch crisis organisation failed to function properly and the government authorities involved lacked direction. In order to improve information provision after a crash, the Dutch Safety Board recommends – among other things – that passengers’ nationalities be registered on passenger lists. The Dutch Safety Board also recommends that the Dutch government make provisions to improve direction in case of a disaster abroad with a large number of Dutch victims.
    Over the past months, a reconstruction of the forward part of the aeroplane was assembled at the Dutch air base of Gilze-Rijen. The reconstruction clearly shows the effects of the impact and subsequent blast, and has been important for verification and additional substantiation of the investigation’s results.

    Find the press release in pdf here.

  • Other messages in this phase

  • Nieuws 15 sep. 2016

    Following up the recommendations in the MH17 report takes time

    In 2018, the Dutch Safety Board will assess whether the follow-up of the recommendations to improve the management of risks associated with flying over conflict zones is adequate. In 2018, the International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO will complete the work programme, launched as a result of the MH17 investigation. The Board would like to obtain clarification sooner, but concludes that, based on official reactions to the MH17 report, the necessary international coordination takes time.

  • Nieuws 15 sep. 2016

    Follow-up of the MH17 Passenger information recommendations

    The Dutch Government has taken various actions as a result of the three recommendations in the MH17 Passenger information report to ensure that passenger information is made available more quickly and that next of kin are better informed. The Dutch Safety Board is positive about the efforts and proposals, however, it still has to be proven whether these will actually lead to specific improvements in practice. The Dutch Safety Board is of the opinion that the recommendations are being adequately followed up.

  • Nieuws 7 jun. 2016

    Found Buk missile parts in final report Dutch Safety Board

    Following the reports on Monday, June 6th, 2016, on Buk missile parts found during the MH17 investigation, the Dutch Safety Board cares to explain that this does not involve recently found items. It concerns parts recovered during the Dutch Safety Board’s investigation into MH17.

  • Nieuws 25 feb. 2016

    Response Dutch Safety Board to questions Dutch Parliament

    On 4 and 10 February 2016 Dutch Parliament has asked questions to the Dutch Safety Board. These questions relate to the investigations of the Board into the crash of flight MH17.

  • Nieuws 20 okt. 2015

    Over 400 surviving relatives visit the reconstruction of MH17

    Last week, a total of 428 surviving relatives of the victims of Flight MH17 took the opportunity to visit the reconstruction of the aircraft. Investigators were in attendance at the Gilze-Rijen air base to answer any questions they had. In addition to the surviving relatives, the reconstruction was attended by a delegation from the Dutch Lower House as well as representatives from around 50 embassies.

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Video about the investigation into the causes of the crash of flight MH17.

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