The stupidity of flying over a war zone seems to be going unnoticed. They had already shot down three planes this week. Not saying that this makes it ok, but there are just certain things you don’t do for safety reasons.
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Crimea was off-limits but not eastern Ukraine. It seems flying five miles above the earth provided false security to the civilian airliner.

The United States and Ukraine are saying Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was hit by a missile while at cruise altitude over eastern Ukraine. Without being able to confirm that the missile was fired by pro-Russian rebels, U.S. intelligence said it detected both the launch and the explosion. This urgently raises the issue of why commercial flights had not been diverted from the skies over Ukraine and how war zones are defined these days.

While the Crimea was regarded as too dangerous to fly over because of military aircraft movements, eastern Ukraine was not deemed off-limits even though two Ukrainian military aircraft were shot down this week.

The scary fact is that it seems harder and harder to know what weapons are where in the world. Even an old shoulder-fired ground-to-air missile can bring down a plane that is taking off or landing. In 2002, the Al Muhajiroom terrorist group fired two shoulder-launched missiles at an Israeli Boeing 757 as it took off from Mombasa, Kenya, but narrowly missed. Airport security experts have long worried that perimeter surveillance is not tight enough in places where such missiles could be available.

The missile threat to civilian airplanes is greatest upon takeoff and landing, not when they are flying five miles above the earth.

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