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MH17 Crash Report: Black Box Recorders Reveal Plane's Crew Had No Warning Of Explosion

09/09/2014 11:22 BST | Updated 11/09/2014 10:59 BST

The first findings from the investigation into the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash have revealed that the crew and passengers had no warning before the plane exploded.

The plane was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed in rebel-held territory Ukraine in July, killing all 298 people on board. Reports suggest it was shot down by pro-Russian rebels.

The report from the Dutch Safety Board said no distress messages were received from the aircraft.

mh17 crash site

The wreckage of the plane after the crash which killed 298 people

It said: "No aural warnings or alerts of aircraft system malfunction were heard on the cockpit voice recording, which ended at 13.20.03 hours. Crew communication gave no indication that there was anything abnormal with the flight."

The black box recordings revealed the final words transmitted the plane were "Romeo November Delta Malaysian one seven", acknowledging a flight instruction from air traffic controllers shortened to RND.

In the following seconds, the controller asked: "Malaysian one seven, how do you read me?" before saying "it's disappeared." Another air traffic controller on the same radio frequency saw the plane "falling apart".

final conversation

The final transmissions from MH17

At 1:19:53 pm on the day of the crash, the air traffic control centre in Ukraine instructed MH17 to alter its route slightly. The crew acknowledged this three seconds later, at 1:19:56pm, in a message that lasted three seconds. One second later, air traffic control sent a clearance signal for the course alteration, but MH17 never responded.

Data from the flight data recorder and digital cockpit voice recorder both stopped at 1:20:03pm.

Investigation crash MH17, 17 July 2014 Donetsk

The plane had been informed that it should not fly below 32,000 feet as the area was restricted airspace due to the hostilities between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces. At the time of the explosion, MH17 was flying in unrestricted space at 33,000 feet, on the approved route and altitude.

The damage to the plane, which was completely destroyed, was "consistent with the damage that would be expected from a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside", the investigators said.

Many pieces of the plane were distributed over a large area, which indicated that the Boeing 777 broke up in the air.

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The report confirmed that the black boxes for the flight were taken from the crash site by "individuals unknown to the team". They were then handed to a Malaysian official by the armed separatists controlling Eastern Ukraine on 21 July, before being given to the Dutch safety board which carried out the investigation.

No evidence of any tampering to the black boxes was found, the report said.

According to documents provided by Malaysian Airlines, the crew was properly licensed and had the correct medical certificates to run the flight. The documents also said the airplane was in "an airworthy" condition before it left Amsterdam, with no known technical malfunctions.

The report did not attempt to establish responsibility for the crash. It states: "The sole objective of this investigation is the prevention of similar accidents and incidents. It is not the purpose of this activity to apportion blame or liability in respect of any party."

Investigation crash MH17, 17 July 2014 Donetsk