The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that crashed in eastern Ukraine Thursday may have been on a course for airspace that was closed to civilian aircraft by American and Ukrainian officials due to the ongoing violence in the region.
Earlier this month, Russian news agency ITAR TASS reported the Ukrainian aviation authority closed the airspace in the eastern part of the country to civilian aircraft in light of military operations in the area. The region, which sits along Ukraine’s border with Russia, has been the center of fighting between Ukranian forces and pro-Russian separtists in the wake of Yanukovych’s ouster. Several Ukranian jets have been shot down during the fighting including at least two on Wednesday.
In April, the Federal Aviation Administration banned American planes from flying over the Ukrainian region of Crimea and its surrounding waters. Russia and Ukraine have been engaged in a territorial dispute over Crimea, which is in the south of the country, in the aftermath of the ouster of pro-Kremlin Ukranian President President Viktor Yanukovych following widespread protests in February.
An FAA “special notice” on Ukraine issued in April warned of a “potentially hazardous situation” in Ukrainian airspace, “particularly over Crimea.” The FAA has not responded to requests for comment from Business Insider about what notices are currently in effect regarding flights over Ukrainian airspace.
The FAA isn’t the only government agency that has attempted to deter civilian aircraft from flying over portions of Ukraine.
Malaysia Airlines confirmed it “lost contact” with MH17, which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in a Twitter post Thursday. According to FlightAware, MH17 was last tracked just over the Ukrainian border in the northwestern part of the country.
FlightAware also indicated MH17 should have been on a path that would have taken it over Western Ukraine, not the volatile eastern part of the country. That flight path would have taken the plane near Crimea. However, the air traffic site Flightradar24 showed the plane’s final signal came from the east of the country. The security intelligence firm Stratfor also noted the plane reportedly went down near Shakhtyorsk, Ukraine in the east near the Russian border.
Malaysia Airlines has not responded to multiple requests from Business Insider about the crash and whether the plane was flying over Eastern Ukraine.