The first report on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, shot down July 17 over eastern Ukraine, will be released in September, authorities said this week. Ukrainian and U.S. officials say pro-Russian rebels are responsible, but the Dutch Safety Board will not be looking into that side of the issue.
The board, which is leading the investigation, "will not make any statements with regard to apportioning blame or liability, and these issues will not form part of its investigation,” it said in a statement this week, adding that the results should be released “in a few weeks’ time.”
The agency's team of international investigators, including representatives from the United States, the United Kingdom and the International Civil Aviation Organization, will meet in The Hague, Netherlands, to analyze data from the passenger jet's black-box recording devices, as well as information from air-traffic control records, photos and radar data.
Earlier this week, the team pulled all but one of its workers out of Ukraine, as tensions increased between Ukrainians and Russian rebel groups, in the conflict that started there last December.
“Due to the changed safety situation in East Ukraine, it is unclear whether the data can be supplemented with information from further investigations at the crash site,” the Safety Board said.
The investigation has been fraught with difficulties, thwarted by gunfire and shelling in the area, which has made it difficult to access the site and carry out the work of collecting debris and identifying victims. All 295 aboard perished in the crash.
Airline experts estimate the Boeing 777 jet was shot down with a Russian-made Buk missile, one of the few ground-based weapons able to reach a craft flying at 33,000 feet.