Several planes had taken the exact same flight path as the Ukrainian airliner, up to an hour before it took off, aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas told CNN.
"So clearly the authorities thought it was safe," said the editor-in-chief of Airlineratings.com.
All of which raises the question -- why was this particular aircraft shot down so soon after taking off?
"To sort of say it was an accident doesn't really ring true," said Thomas. "Because other aircraft had been operating in exactly the same manner in the previous hour."
He added that the Ukrainian plane's transponder was switched on and flight radar was "tracking it until it was blown out of the sky at 8,000 feet.
"If it was a threat, that aircraft would be probably below the radar. And/or a stealth aircraft. So it just doesn't ring true (that it would be an accident)," said Thomas.