Local expert gives us a pilot's perspective on Ukraine crash - San Diego, California Talk Radio Station - 760 KFMB AM - 760kfmb

Local expert gives us a pilot's perspective on Ukraine crash

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – CBS News 8 sat down with a longtime local pilot who gave us some insight into the crash in the eastern Ukraine, and helped answer some of the questions many people are asking.

Anyone who turned on the news this morning was most likely met with the same sense.

"I was shocked," pilot Robert Walker said.

For some insight, we spoke to Walker, a former military pilot who now flies commercial with 36 years in the industry. We sat down with him and watched coverage of Thursday's crash. Witnesses say debris was scattered for miles. We asked what that told him.

"If the debris field is just widely scattered over miles and miles and miles, kind of similar to the Air France jet that went down over the Atlantic, that tells you it kind of broke apart in flight," Walker said.

We've learned the jetliner's route was declared safe by the world civil aviation body. Walker says when they don't believe an area is safe, alerts are sent out across the world.

"Most pilots are given that info and not just the pilots, the airlines, the dispatchers, and the companies. They would know ahead of time whether they're recommended to avoid the area or if it's required to avoid the area," he said.

After the fact, you can see the vast majority of flights are not only avoiding that contested area, but most of Ukraine. We also asked Walker if the pilots would have had any warning a missile was headed towards them. The answer, no. He said it's not like the movies and passenger planes aren't equipped to detect that sort of thing. In fact, even military aircraft need to be actively searching for a missile to detect it.

"From a military point of view, every missile has its own radar system. And in order to detect it you have to tune the radar frequency, and all this electronic parameters to actually listen to it. It's like a radio, in order to hear that missile you have to tune it to the right channel," he said.

Walker stressed this is still just the beginning, and urged people and the media to not jump to conclusions.

"Investigations take a long time, even just a simple aircraft… not that they're simple. An aircraft accident usually takes months and months of investigations," he said.

Walker went on to say these investigations can go on to take years. Here's the problem with this one -- the country where the plane crashes usually takes the initial lead on the investigation. But since this area is a war zone now, that is really going to complicate things.

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