Aviation expert: Malaysian plane could not avoid missile - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Aviation expert: Malaysian plane could not avoid surface to air missile

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ATLANTA (CBS46) -

Kit Darby is a lead instructor for flight simulators of a major airline and has thousands of hours logged in flight.

The former commercial pilot said the Boeing 777 operated by Malaysian Airlines that went down Thursday does not have the capability to detect an incoming missile, or maneuver to avoid it if the pilot saw it heading towards them.

"The rocket system appears to be a military system designed to shoot down high-speed, small fighters," Darby said. "A relatively large, relatively slow airliner, would be no match for this type of missile."

Ukrainian officials said the plane was shot down at 33,000 feet. Darby said that is well within the range of the surface to air missile, which could shoot down a plane at more than 50,000 feet.

The pilot, even if he saw the missile heading towards the plane would not be able to react in time.

Darby said, as a retired commercial pilot, a strike from a missile is something that concerned him while in the air.

"The command and control of this type of weapon has always been a fear," Darby said. "You gotta know that country leaders, politicians and weapons manufacturers lose sleep at night worrying about this capability of this falling into the wrong hands, or being used inappropriately."

The Boeing 777 is one of the most advanced airplanes in the world. Darby said even with all the technology, there are no warnings or safeguards against an incoming missile strike. This means passengers, crew and the pilots probably didn't know what happened.

"It is hard to believe anyone would target an airliner," Darby said. "Our thoughts are with the victims and their families."

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