Of malaysian airliner in ukraine.
Joining us by webcam is john mccraw, former deputy director director of the faa flight standards division.
John, thank you for joining us.
We have heard about just the chaos on the ground as investigators are limited to 75 minutes on the ground.
900 so-called rebels, pro-russian forces there with guns in hand.
How is the accident site going to be investigated properly here?
I think there is no question that the accident site is now contaminated here to there been reports of components being removed, things moved around, certainly for humanitarian reasons you have to remove the victims, but when an accident like this happens in most countries, there is a very careful discipline and methodical process of laying out a grid, mapping and photographing every piece of evidence.
I guess in this case the solution is and probably the answer is it will be easy to determine whether a missile knocked the airplane down or not and everything points to that.
In that case you don't need quite as much forensics.
No question, the site has been contaminated.
At is it.
If you don't need that much forensics, why is it still important to keep that area free from contamination?
You really want to have a full set of evidence to make sure you can confirm everything.
The intel community is going to be key here.
They will know very accurately where the missile was launched from.
They will know the path of the missile before it hit the airplane.
They will be looking at radar and other things to see if they can determine evidence from that as well.
Ridiculously, the cvr and fdr are going to tell a lot about what happened in the flight deck , whether the crew was talking about deviating from the path or thunderstorms, as everyone has been reporting, which would be normal.
If there was anything else going on, you need to be able to rule those things out.
Should there be any indication from the crew there was something else going on, then you have to turn to the evidence of the debris field.
In the debris field, there are reports that there have been rebels or unidentified gunmen down there rustling through the bodies, removing evidence.
How would they be even able to cover up any kind of evidence that would point to one thing or another?
I don't think, they will move components around.
If the investigators ever get a chance to get on site, there may be enough by looking at the debris field, which is reported to be very large, which typically indicates an in-flight breakup of the aircraft.
The fact that there were large pieces of the airplane in tact, also points toward an in-flight breakup, which is reasonable to think if you had a missile strike.
One thing that some people don't understand is these missiles can to blow up when they get within a certain distance of the airplane rather than actually striking it.
That can cause the airplane to come apart, the concussion from that explosion.
That is how we ended up with these large pieces.
If in fact it is directly indicative of an in-flight breakup, i would try to determine whether damage came from that cost that.
They will have to look for evidence on the pieces of fuselage that are left.
From what i understand, this evidence on the ground will point to the type of missile that was used to bring it down.
I think certainly it will point toward the extent of the explosion that brought it down, if it indeed ends up being that.
It is unlikely, if it doesn't up being that, all evidence points in that direction, it is unlikely that the contamination on the site will prevent them from determining and confirming the missile.
Any other evidence, anything that might have happened will be lost.
Certainly, the fact that they're going to personal remains is something that should not be allowed at any crash site.
John, as a former deputy director of faa, described to me just how different this g crash scene is in terms of this investigation and your concerns going forward.
The big concerns right now in addition to the site having parts moved or removed and not having good documentation, the big concern is, whether the fdr's and cd-r's are in the hands of someone that is keeping those in tact.
Cracks are talking about the black boxes?
There are pictures that show what appear to be those in the hands of the separatists.
They have been reported to have them in their hands, although earlier it was reported that those had gone to moscow.
It will be critical to have an international organization or a group of countries look at the data from that flight data and talk it for supporters of that there is transparency and integrity in the investigation of this.
Cracks john, how much is russia's current response indicative of any culpability it may have?
From what i have seen, there is a lot of -- between all three components, the russians, ukrainians and the separatists.
Here each accusing the other.
Certainly, the evidence we have seen of the missile launch would point to an area where you would think the separatists might have control.
This is the stage where everybody is going to blame everybody else until they can get some hard evidence to show who actually launched this missile.
We understand the osce are the only ones who have been able to be on the ground.
What is it like, bring us into the minds of those investigators.
75 minutes surrounded by 900 armed soldiers.
Certainly, there must've been a lot of apprehension and fear.
First, you're going into a crash site which has a lot of -- there are still a lot of human remains.
It is horrific to see and smell.
A lot of personal effects laying around.
Even if there weren't armed guards walking them through the site, it would be a terrifying experience.
I am sure that their ability to take in what they're seeing is probably hampered somewhat by being so closely guarded.
Final question, what needs to happen now if we are to salvage the crash site and preserve it as much as we can and get a really transparent investigation moving forward from this moment?
I think they need to form a group of international experts that can join together and form a team that can go into the crash site and get agreement that they can go in and do the rigorous investigation that is normally done in this kind of accident.
Without that, i'm afraid there
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