Social media is sharing this pic of “the world’s airplanes avoiding Ukraine” after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down overnight.
— MH17 Crash News (@Planesonearth) July 17, 2014
It looks like widespread evasive action but large parts of the airspace above Ukraine have been restricted from ground level to 32,000 feet since July 14, so the big hole above Ukraine is probably not unusual.
And since the crash, all the airspace of eastern Ukraine has been closed to civil aircraft.
In April, the International Civil Aviation Organisation advised carriers of “the possible existence of serious risks to the safety of international civil flights” and asked them to consider alternative routes.
In the past week alone, airlines had been warned not to fly over the disputed zone, as two military aircraft had been shot down just within the past three days.
And the US Federal Aviation Administration has banned American air carriers outright from flying over the Crimean peninsula since April 25.
Flight MH17 was reportedly flying at 33,000 feet, so it was assumed to be in safe airspace, but there are reports circulating that it had taken a shortcut across the disputed region of eastern Ukraine to save fuel.
From these two maps, it looks as though it was taking the same outbound route across the edge of the Crimean peninsula as it had on its inbound path.
Despite several airlines saying they plan to divert around the zone, there’s still some traffic above Ukraine, according to The Guardian’s live tracker:
Basically, you can fly over Ukraine, but it’s largely seen as “best avoided”, so that hole will likely be on flight maps like that shared on Twitter this morning for some time to come.