by: Alexa Ashwell Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - When a Malaysia Airlines jet carrying 298 people crashed in Ukraine Thursday morning, former FBI assistant director Chris Swecker immediately started thinking about why a plane would be flying over a troubled area.
"Two planes have been shot down in the last couple of days," Swecker said. "I'm very surprised to see commercial airlines flying over that area."
He also started thinking about who could have caused the destruction.
"It's a conflict zone. It's a high probability that the separatists shot that plane down thinking it was something else," Swecker said.
Right now it’s not clear who is responsible. President Barack Obama has offered the United States’ help with the investigation.
"People will be looking for answers," Swecker said. "Everyone wants to know what happened. It's a volatile region.”
A local politics expert told Channel 9 there may have been politics in play.
“There’s incentives to engage in these kinds of violent attacks against civilians and then blame it on the other side,” said Dr. Justin Conrad, assistant professor of political science at University of North Carolina-Charlotte.
Charlotte passengers still flying but with heavy hearts
No travel alerts have been issued since Thursday morning's MH17 crash, but airlines across the world including American Airlines and Delta have sent out statements to Malaysia Airlines and the victims.
Channel 9 reporter Jenna Deery went to Charlotte-Douglas to talk to passengers about what happened.
Television screens are turned on to the coverage of the Malaysian Airlines crash, but the tragedy has not changed operations.
Passengers told Deery they are still flying Thursday, just with heavy hearts.
Passengers had their bags packed still determined to get where they are going.
“We’re doing a mission trip to work with children,” said Patrick Figgatt.
Figgatt is flying to Romania with a church group from Greensboro.
It’s the same part of the world where a commercial plane was reportedly gunned down on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lampur.
LIVE UPDATES: Malaysian plane shot down over Ukraine, officials say
Figgatt learned about the tragedy on his way to the airport and never thought about turning around.
“There are a lot of planes flying and when it's our time, it’s our time,” Figgatt said. “I just hope it’s not right now.”
Mark O’Brian is flying to London.
“It’s absolutely dreadful. It’s terrible news and hopefully they can get to the bottom of it,” O’Brian said.
He is hoping for more answers into what happened to the plane that crashed.
He said while he has trust in the airlines that fly abroad every day, it’s only human for this event to cause some concern.
“I think it had quite a lot of attention, particularly to those traveling to Asia from Europe,” O’Brien said.
Channel 9 contacted the Transportation Security Administration to find out if any alerts or travel notifications have been issued following the crash.
They directed Channel 9 to the Federal Aviation Administration which has not responded yet.
Airline industry could make changes after 2nd tragedy
Thursday was the second time a Malaysia Airlines plane was lost in less than six months.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared in March while en route to Bejing.
It has not been found, but the search has been concentrated in the Indian Ocean far west of Australia.
Action 9 investigator Jason Stoogenke said the airline industry could already be looking at making changes after this second tragedy.
There were fewer people at Charlotte Douglas Airport wanting to fly especially to more exotic places.
If enough avoid flying, passengers could see cheaper flights to those places.
Airlines could even discontinue some of those flights.
Take Europe for example. American and US Airways use Philadelphia to fly there most, and they use Charlotte second.
If they scale back, aviation expert Michael Lowrey thinks they would cut some of our flights first.
Lowrey said airlines may rethink their flight patterns and reconsider where they are flying over.
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