Aviation, terrorism experts weigh in on plane crash

by: Kristy Wolski Updated:

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Aviation and terrorism experts from Jacksonville spoke to Action News Thursday about the Malaysia Airlines plane crash in Ukraine.

“It’s an area where there’s a lot of violence going on,” said David Schwam-Baird, University of North Florida associate professor of political science.

He explained the situation in the area where the plane went down.

“It’s in the area where Russian separatists in Ukraine are trying to break away,” he said.

Right now there is speculation by Ukraine the plane was shot down by Russian separatists.

“They claim the Russian separatists shot it down with Russian-provided surface-to-air missiles,” said Schwam-Baird. “The Russian separatists say they don’t have that kind of missile that can bring down a civilian aircraft at that level.”

Schwam-Baird told Action News it is highly unlikely the civilian airliner was targeted.

“If it was shot down, it’s likely that it might have been an accident,” he said. “There’s no reason why, for example,  the Russian separatists would want to shoot down a civilian airplane, that has nothing to do with the Ukraine.”

The passengers and crew on board the Boeing 777 did not stand a chance, according to former American Airlines pilot Capt. Wayne Ziskal.

“The fact that it was a triple 7, there’s no airplane in the world that could withstand a direct hit like this,” said Ziskal.

He said flying on a U.S. airline does not pose the same risks, because of Federal Aviation Administration regulations. He said the area where the airliner went down is already restricted for American planes.

“It’s a travel advisory put out by the FAA that says basically U.S. airlines should not fly here,” said Ziskal. “Other countries basically could have looked at this and said, ‘You know, we agree.’”

Ziskal said the crash should have very little impact on American air transportation.