Ukraine Air Traffic Control does not look to be a reliable organization

UkSATSE (Ukrainian State Air Traffic Services Enterprise) is responsible for air traffic control over Ukraine airspace. One of their air traffic controllers was responsible for controlling MH17.

This post will show that UkSATSE is not a reliable organization and made very unusual decisions.

An overview of what happened with UkSATSE

  • UkSATSE was not able to provide primary radar recordings to DSB. The reason given was because of maintenance. That is very unlikely. A Dutch expert stated at January 22 that three radar stations could have detected a BUK missile. Three radar stations having maintenance at the same time is very unusual.
    It is more likely UkSATSE did not have primary coverage of aircraft flying east of Donetsk because one of the radar stations was damaged by armed men in June. See this post.
  • UkSATSE did not notify Eurocontrol about three non-operational radar systems. They should according law. More info here.
  • UkSATSE did not tell DSB that at least one radar system was taken out of order. This came out when the Ukraine ambassador to the Netherlands told this at February 4 2016.
  • UkSATSE decided not to close the airspace completely but close it to Flightlevel 320. DSB was not able to find out what was the reason to close up to FL320. Knowing that Surface to Air missiles can reach altitudes far higher than 32000 feet. The airspace should have been closed completely. What if an aircraft suffered from decompression and had to decent to lower altitide. It would have entered airspace used by military fighter aircraft. This is an interesting statement done from someone who is working as an air traffic controller in Ukraine. The statement was posted in Pprune.org , a forum used by pilots and controllers. The user with nickname TC_Ukraine knows a lot about the systems used in Ukraine seeing this post, He mentions Indra which is indeed used. For Kiev ATC Italian Strela software is used.  Spanish Indra is used as well at various airports in the east of Ukraine.

    Ukrainian officials should close whole airspace over eastern part. now is closed up to fl260. Russian terrorists can easily hit passenger a/c.

  • Uksatse decided not to mention war activities in their NOTAMS. Russian aviation authorities did. See this post for the details.
  • DSB was not allowed to question the Dnepropetrovsk  based air traffic contoller responsible for controlling MH17. UkSATSE according to DSB did not give permission for an interview as reported by Dutch largest newspaper Telegraaf at January 23 2015.
    IMG_1034The Dutch CEO of the Dutch ATC told that in each investigation the air traffic controller is questioned. Russia media reported that the controller named Anna Petrenko suddenly went on a holiday at July 18 and never returned.
  • This article has some details on corruption of UkSATSE managers. In 2011 European banks were considering to provide UkSATSE money to modernize the air traffic control infrastructure.
  • The headquarters of Uksatse was stormed by armed military men at June 4 2014. See the video.  Here is another video.

This post could explain the raid by armed men. The general director of the Ukrainian State Air Traffic Services Enterprise (UkSATSE), Yurii Cherednychenko, has been suspended from office pending an investigation into UkSATSE’s operations, the press office of the Ministry of Infrastructure has announced.

Employees of UkSATSE held a protest near the entrance to the enterprise on June 3 with the aim of preventing Zdorovets from entering the enterprise. Zdorovets returned to UkSATSE’s central office in the company of security forces on June 4. (source)

Cherednichenko (who was fired for corruption) has lots of office workers loyal to him. New director Zdorovets couldn’t get to main office for few days, as people blocked his way to it. Even controllers were forced to do it by ATC managers. So Zdorovets hired some guys from National Guard of Ukraine and finally entered office)

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30 Comments on Ukraine Air Traffic Control does not look to be a reliable organization

  1. > UkSATSE was not able to provide primary radar recordings to DSB. The reason given was because of maintenance. That is very unlikely. A Dutch expert stated at January 22 that three radar stations could have detected a BUK missile. Three radar stations having maintenance at the same time is very unusual.

    — Actually, there was only one Ukrainian primary radar technically capable of detecting events at the crash area at the time of the incident, as shown in this post: http://www.whathappenedtoflightmh17.com/ukraine-air-traffic-control-likely-did-not-have-primary-radar-available-at-time-of-mh17-shot-down/

    The radar is named as “Chugujiv” in the table, other possible transcriptions are Chuhuyiv or Chuguev, not far from Kharkiv / Kharkov.

    So it’s highly plausible that exactly this one of about 18 functioning Ukrainian primary radars might have been on maintenance that very day.

    > This is an interesting statement done from someone who is working as an air traffic controller in Ukraine.

    — The person might have been working as an air traffic controller in Ukraine but was not much competent, as it seems.

    The statement you mention, “Ukrainian officials should close whole airspace over eastern part. now is closed up to fl260. Russian terrorists can easily hit passenger a/c,” as I see that forum now, was first published at “14th Jun 2014, 21:06.” Whatever time zone that forum may use (not Japanese or Australian, I presume), the statement was published AFTER two separate Ukrainian NOTAMs closing the airspace in the region up to FL320 from 18:00 UTC that very day had been actually announced at least several hours in advance to have them distributed and implemented before 18:00 UTC: http://www.tweedekamer.nl/downloads/document?id=2bbfed05-38d4-4079-89f8-e5ff80b6a23d&title=Bijlage%202%20NOTAM%20MH17.pdf http://www.tweedekamer.nl/downloads/document?id=51f502d5-7364-4c2a-b8b0-d839d799a55f&title=Bijlage%201%20NOTAM%20MH17.pdf

    Besides, what we see now at that forum is a post-edited message: “Last edited by TC_Ukraine; 19th Sep 2014 at 17:36” — two days AFTER the crash!

    > Uksatse decided not to mention war activities in their NOTAMS. Russian aviation authorities did.

    — And they did, and closed their adjoining airspace up to FL320, exactly one day before MH17 was shot down!

    I am sure the Russian aviation authorities have been vaguely notified by their military that aircraft were going to be shot down at the East of Ukraine at much higher altitudes than before, as the Russian military knew the ‘Buk’ was already being transported into Ukraine and was supposed to be used very soon — but they did not tell the whole truth to the civil aviation authorities which would make them close the airspace in full.

    • The Russian NOTAM was certainly not some sort of early warning ahead of MH17, but rather a response to the deadly air attack on Snizhne (just 20km away from the border) the day before (July 15th). This together with the artillery strike on the Russian border town of Donetsk which had killed at least one civilian meant that the Russians would enforce a zero-tolerance policy for invaders from the Ukraine.

      • Liane Theuer // January 23, 2016 at 4:53 pm // Reply

        Not to forget the An-26 military cargo aeroplane, shot down on 14 July 2014 !
        The dutch MIVD in appendix T about the case :

        [Ukrainian authorities stated that the aeroplane was flying at 6,500 metres and was not shot down by a portable anti-aircraft system but by a more powerful system. This was probably carried out from Russian territory. (..)
        According to the MIVD, the wreckage and the eyewitnesses supported the fact that the aircraft was shot out of the air by a MANPADS from Ukrainian territory. This would only have been possible if the Antonov were flying substantially lower than 6,200 or 6,500 metres.]

        The Russians were warned that Kiev would allways put the blame on them.

        • The An-26 shootdown was the motive for the Ukrainian NOTAM raising the ceiling of the restricted airspace from 26’000 to 32’000 ft., not the Russian one we are discussing here.
          The Kiev government cited its altitude 0f 6’200 m as a “proof” that this aircraft could not have been destroyed by “separatists”, but must have been shot down by Russians.

          The Dutch MIVD indeed was skeptical about those claims:

          “The MIVD assessed it to be unlikely that the Antonov had been shot down by a powerful anti-aircraft system (separate from the question whether this had been carried out from Russian territory). From
          pictures of the wreckage and eyewitness accounts it was clear that the aeroplane’s right-hand engine had been hit and that 5 to 6 parachutes had subsequently appeared. The Antonov had allegedly
          crashed only then. On this basis, the MIVD concluded that the appearance of the damage was not consistent with a hit by a powerful anti-aircraft system.”

          • Prosto Tak // January 27, 2016 at 10:54 am //

            Actually, Kyiv claimed that the plane in question had been shot down with an air-to-air missile launched from a Russian fighter, not with a SAM, so the destruction of this An-26 may be consistent with such a theory.

            However, there are big questions about the real altitude at which it happened. The Ukrainian airmen were especially told not to go down less than 6500 or 6200 m — but they had to in order to make a more or less effective dropdowns for the besieged Ukrainian troops or otherwise the dropdown would be way too imprecise from more than 6 km altitude.

            And as for a “plane shot down with a Russian SAM from the Russian territory,” according to Kyiv’s claims, it was a Su-25M1 lost on August 29, 2014.

          • Liane Theuer // January 27, 2016 at 10:42 pm //

            Prosto Tak, are there any official Ukrainian examination results for the shooting of the An-26 or the Su-25M1?
            Or are there only the statements out of Crisis Media Center?

          • Prosto Tak // January 28, 2016 at 3:10 am //

            Liane Theuer, they remain just statements as the planes crashed at the occupied territories and their wrecks could not be examined.

            So they may not be true to the fact but anyway, even these statements are heavily misquoted in the messages above, and that’s what I wanted to show.

      • The Russian NOTAM was motivated by the apparent high altitude/long range shoot downs of three Ukrainian planes on July 16 from Snizhne, with the last being an SU-25M1 hit at 6250 m over Russian airspace by an SAM fired from near Removka/2nd Mine. The SU-25M1 crashed at Hryhorivka, far south of Saur Mogila and out of range of MANPADS.

        The VK group Novosti Snezhnogo has the immediate eyewitness testimony of the drownings and some pictures.

        • Andrew, you must have mixed several separate reports into one.

          Actually, only one Ukrainian plane was shot down on July 16, 2014, a Su-25M1, and it happened, as officially stated, “near Amvrosiyivka”, which is about 20 miles to South-West from Snizhne. As for Hryhorivka where it fell down, it is 12 miles to the East of Amvrosiyivka and 12 miles to the South of Snizhne, and only 4 miles to SSE from Savur-Mohyla.

          The official Ukrainian version was that it had been hit by an air-to-air missile shot from a Russian jet patrolling in the Russian airspace nearby, and the Russian border is about 10 to 12 miles from Amvrosiyivka to the South, South-East and East; Hryhorivka is 2,5 miles to the West from the Russian border.

          The separatists themselves claimed to have shot two planes that day. And, actually another Su-25 was hit by a MANPAD missile and damaged that day but it landed safely.

          As for a plane hit allegedly at 6250 m altitude, it was an An-26 military transporter shot down on July 14, 2014 near Krasnodon, which is about 3 miles from a nearest Russian border line. It was also claimed to have been shot down by an air-to-air missile from a Russian jet; however, the circumstances of this loss are very vague and it’s possible the plane was actually flying much lower at the time and hit by a MANPAD missile instead.

          And as for “an SAM fired from near Removka/2nd Mine,” it’s the place from where the ‘Buk’ SAM was fired on July 17.

          • Prosto Tak:

            So if that is what you think, how do you explain the actual eyewitness statements posted on Novosti Snezhnogo on July 16?

            For example:

            https://vk.com/wall235893372_14498

          • Prosto Tak // January 24, 2016 at 10:19 pm //

            Andrew, they discuss exactly what I’ve said!

            For those who do not understand Russian: the interlocutors in a Russian social network “VKontakte” (“In Contact”) also popular in other post-Soviet states discuss what they perceived as downing one Ukrainian plane and missing to shoot down another, then one of the participants quotes the separatists’ claim of shooting down two Ukrainian planes.

          • Prosto Tak:

            I encourage you to read through all of the postings from July 16th concerning the shootdown of Ukrainian military jets. The one I linked to was one of a number of threads on this topic on July 16, 2014.

            It appears from my reading that the locals believed at least three planes were shot down on July 16.

            “quotes the separatists’ claim of shooting down two Ukrainian planes.”

            This quote was given at 6:23 pm. From what I read of VK Novosti Snezhnogo, the initial downings were around 11:30 am and 3:30 pm. The SU-25M1 was shot down after this statement at 6:55 pm and photos of its crash smoke plume were then posted. There appears to have been a regular tempo of operations to bomb the rebels at Saur Mogila with flights of three planes at a time.

            It appears that in all the confusion of news about shootdowns that Ukraine was able to bluff its way through to claiming just the SU-25M1 was shot down and a second plane was just damaged. This has no correspondence to what the eyewitnesses say or what the DNR claimed.

          • Prosto Tak:

            The crash site of the SU-25M1 can be seen here:

            47.858029°, 38.798397°

            Its 8.5 km from Saur Mogila.

          • Prosto Tak // January 25, 2016 at 10:57 am //

            Andrew, theoretically your version is possible. However, physical evidence exists for only one plane shot down and destroyed that day, as far as I know.

            As for the claims, the separatists have claimed to have shot down in total much more planes than Ukraine has ever had.

    • The Dnipropetrovsk radar is approximately the same distance from the Donetsk area as the Chuhuiv/Chuguev one.

    • Prosto Tak:

      > I am sure the Russian aviation authorities have been vaguely notified by their military that aircraft were going to be shot down at the East of Ukraine at much higher altitudes….

      Prosto Tak, according to your idea, what kind of aircraft the Russian military were going to shoot down?

      • The idea is not mine, the separatists themselves immediately claimed to have shot down a Ukrainian transport An-26 as soon as a plane was hit — but had to backtrack and delete their social media bragging posts as soon as it became clear what really happened. So, an An-26 must have been the planned target. I cannot see any other reason for the fast changing claims.

        • > an An-26 must have been the planned target
          That’s a flawed logic

        • So, you have certainly seen that post in the VKontakte social media network attributed to Igor Strelkov (published at 17:50 msk, 16:50 Kiev time). In that post, it was not said “Strelkov reporting” or something like that. It was said explicitly “Сообщение от ополчения”, i.e. “News from militia”. The text followed: “In the Torez area, a plane has been just shot down, seemingly An-26….” Later, the admin of that group in VKontakte explained that he took the info from a web forum used by locals and militia men. Nothing strange in that explanation. Locals and militia talked of a plane that crashed in their area. The plane was big and given the fact that An-26 was shot down just three days before, the eyewitnesses thought that the plane was An-26, too. The “Strelkov” post is of zero value as evidence implicating the separatists.

          • Liane Theuer // January 28, 2016 at 7:13 pm //

            Addition:
            The explosion of the Boeing striking the ground could be heard from Torez to Debaltsevo. The smoke plume was visible from afar.
            It is entirely logical that it was reported in social media. And logically the separatists speculated about what might had happened.
            Of course the separatists, who first arrived at the crash site, believed to celebrate a “victory”. And they were shocked when they realized that it was a civilian plane.

        • abcd, Eugene,

          While “Strelkov’s” post is by far the most known, there were many others with the similar content, as well as many reports in the Russian media about “shooting down a Ukie An-26.” It’s rather obvious that many people both within the occupied territories and in Russia knew a Ukrainian transport plane, most likely an An-26, was going to be shot down for sure this time with a new powerful weapon.

          Also, before the tragedy the separatists boasted many times about “having captured a Ukrainian “Buk'” or even several ‘Buks.’ Actually, it must have been said about a different ‘Buk’ or even a couple of ‘Buks’ that, according to some Ukrainian sources, might have been left by the Ukrainian troops being damaged beyond repair and absolutely inoperable.

          But the most striking thing is that both the posts about “shooting down an An-26” and about “having a ‘Buk'” were mostly deleted within a couple of hours after MH17 had been shot down with a ‘Buk’!

          I have no other explanation than what they believed to be a source of their “pride” turned out to be the incriminating evidence and had to be disposed of as soon as possible.

          • Prosto Tak:

            {{While “Strelkov’s” post is by far the most known, there were many others with the similar content, as well as many reports in the Russian media about “shooting down a Ukie An-26.”}}

            The Russian media generally simply copied posts that were made on sources like the Strelkov Info VK account. There is little independent information in any of the early reports showing actual field observation and reporting.

            {{It’s rather obvious that many people both within the occupied territories and in Russia knew a Ukrainian transport plane, most likely an An-26, was going to be shot down for sure this time with a new powerful weapon.}}

            I don’t think that is at all obvious. The discussion of an AN-26 began spontaneously on Twitter and VK groups before the Strelkov Info post (which is most likely based on VK News of Snzihne and Overheard in Torez group posts) and was stated by both ideological sides in the conflict. I think it was simply an observation of what they believed happened.

            AN-26 had been flying earlier in the day according to Kiev sympathizers.

            Twitter @husnizhne, July 17, 2014, 13:17 pm EEST
            https://twitter.com/HuSnizhne/status/489715500520587264
            Два самолета. Ан-26 еще. – Two airplanes. AN-26 again.

            {{Also, before the tragedy the separatists boasted many times about “having captured a Ukrainian “Buk’” or even several ‘Buks.’}}

            Can you cite a source of an actual Separatist making this boast? By this I mean a military or government official in the DNR/LNR power structure? Anonymous Twitter accounts being run from God know’s where do not count. I think the closest you can get is Sergei Kurginyan.

            I’m certainly aware of Separatist media and internet sympathizers like Colonel Cassad and LifeNews stating they had a working BUK on July 16 only. They also stated at the same time that the Separatists had a working SU-25 with a pilot. Why do you believe the former but not the latter?

            {{Actually, it must have been said about a different ‘Buk’ or even a couple of ‘Buks’ that, according to some Ukrainian sources, might have been left by the Ukrainian troops being damaged beyond repair and absolutely inoperable.}}

            Ukrainian sources generally denied any capture of BUK’s by Separatists, focusing especially on Base A-1428, although occasionally admitting they may have left a vehicle or two behind but disabled it.

            Any investigation in this regard should focus on the location and status of the following vehicles:

            BUK 322 – abandoned at Base A-0194 northwest of Lugansk, disappears from the base after midday on July 16, 2014 taken away by unknown persons.
            BUK 111, 112, 131 – last photographed at Base A-1428 in March, 2014 by space satellite.
            BUK 132 – eventually destroyed by heavy shelling at Base A-1428

          • When people in the Torez area watched a plane falling from the sky, they had a limited number of options to guess as to what type of aircraft the plane could be. The options were SU, AN and IL. SU was too small, thus only AN or IL were relevant. To repeat, as An-26 was shot down three days earlier and was talked about a great deal, it was not unnatural that many eyewitnesses thought the plane was An-26, too.

          • Prosto Tak // January 30, 2016 at 2:59 am //

            Andrew:

            > BUK 322 – abandoned at Base A-0194 northwest of Lugansk, disappears from the base after midday on July 16, 2014 taken away by unknown persons.
            .
            BUK 132 – eventually destroyed by heavy shelling at Base A-1428

            — You obviously mix several different unrelated pieces of information.

            Base A 0194 did not have any ‘Buks’ at the time. It was a radio-technical unit which used to quarter a SAM unit on its territory for some time. However, the SAM unit had been evacuated long before the events. And the base was captured by the separatists back on June 3, 2014 so anything that might have been removed from there on July 16 could be taken by the separatists only;

            An inoperable ‘Buk’ TELAR (and another inoperable ‘Buk’ TAR) was left at Base A 1428 after it had been also evacuated in Spring 2014, before massive hostilities began (but remained under Ukrainian control). It was the one Russia claimed to have been removed on July 17. However, the Russians tried to substantiate their claim with a deliberately misdated satellite picture — while a picture known to be taken within half an hour of the Russian-claimed time still shows the ‘Buk’ in the same place where it remained at least until December 2014! Actually, there is a separate post about the misdating here: http://www.whathappenedtoflightmh17.com/dutch-satellite-expert-states-russian-mod-zaroshenskye-satellite-photo-is-fake/

  2. > He mentions Indra which is indeed used. For Kiev ATC Italian Strela software is used. Spanish Indra is used as well at various airports in the east of Ukraine.

    — The official Ukrainian data: http://uksatse.ua/index.php?act=Part&CODE=235&lang=en

    “Surveillance

    “En-route radars

    “For en-route surveillance over aircraft in the airspace of Ukraine, 8 en-route radar complexes TRLK-10 are used as a part of “Skala-M” primary radar and “Koren-S” secondary radar; 3 autonomous secondary radars of “Koren-AS” type and 5 monopulse secondary surveillance radars (MSSR) of IRS-20MP/L and SIR-S type.

    “Airdrome radars

    “For surveillance at airdrome control zone (CTR) and terminal control area (TMA), 5 airdrome-and-route radars of ATCR-33S/SIR-S type, and 10 airdrome radars of ASR-85, DRL-7SM, Irtysh and ASR-22/AL types are used.

    “In addition, Multilateration Surveillance System is used at CTR Boryspil, CTR Kyiv/Zhuliany and airdrome traffic zone at Boryspil airport.”

    Of these, IRS-20MP/L are Spanish Indra secondary radars; ATCR-33S are Italian Selex Sistemi Integrati primary radars; SIR-S are secondary radars by the same company; ASR-22/AL are both primary and secondary radars that seem to be an international venture; I’ve seen a Polish, a Lithuanian and a United Arab Emirates companies advertising them. All the other systems mentioned are either Soviet or post-Soviet.

  3. Liane Theuer // January 23, 2016 at 4:36 pm // Reply

    [So Zdorovets hired some guys from National Guard …]

    Mostly from battalion “Kyiv-1” as you can read on the UkSATSE website about the June 4/2014 events (in russian) :
    http://uksatse.ua/index.php?act=Part&CODE=247&id=274

    [The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) could have handed over recordings of conversations between air traffic control and Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 to US analysts in Kiev, a Ukraine government source said Wednesday.
    “Everyone is in a hurry realizing that the international commission could seize all physical evidence. Soon, there will be no access to it, no opportunity to examine it anymore,” the source added.]
    http://sputniknews.com/world/20140723/191152953/Kiev-Authorities-Suspected-of-Passing-MH17-Air-Traffic-Control.html

    Indeed – the „government source“ was right.

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