MH17 black boxes delivered to British investigators

The black boxes from the doomed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that came down in eastern Ukraine have arrived in Britain for expert analysis, the government said Wednesday.

The recorders have been delivered to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch headquarters in Farnborough, southwest of London.

AAIB experts were set to go through the information from the cockpit voice recorder, which should give them hours of pilots' conversations, as well as study the contents of the flight data recorder.

"We can confirm that the two black boxes from MH17 have been delivered by the Dutch Safety Board to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch at Farnborough for download," a Department for Transport spokeswoman told AFP.

The passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur came down in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board, 193 of them Dutch citizens.

US officials say the plane was mistakenly shot down by pro-Russian separatists in the region.

It is thought the AAIB will be able to send details of their findings to the Dutch authorities within 24 hours -- giving experts in the Netherlands further information about the doomed Boeing 777 jet's last moments.

Ukraine's government said in a statement that the black boxes were transferred to Britain under the observation of the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organisation.

The statement said that the vital data recorders were flown out of Kiev following an agreement between Malaysian, Dutch and Ukrainian officials and representatives from the ICAO.

"Under the protocol it was determined that the objects called 'black boxes' were presented to the Ukrainian side but the Ukrainian side did not get involved with them and these objects did not remain under Ukrainian control for even one minute," the statement said.

- Probe 'could take weeks' -

The Dutch Safety Board (OVV), which is leading the investigation, said that analysis of the information on the black boxes could take "several weeks".

"The black boxes will also be analysed for evidence of tampering," it said in a statement.

The OVV investigation in Ukraine is coordinating teams from eight different countries, including Russia.

"The investigation in Ukraine is in full swing," it said. "Despite investigators not having safe access to the crash site, work is being done in Kiev and the Netherlands to gather and analyse information from different sources."

The AAIB is responsible for investigating civil aircraft accidents and serious incidents in Britain.

It also provides assistance and expertise to the "international air accident community" to help improve aviation safety worldwide.

"The fundamental purpose of investigating accidents is to determine the circumstances and causes of the accident with a view to the preservation of life and the avoidance of accidents in the future," the branch says of its work.

"It is not to apportion blame or liability."

It says it aims to conduct "thorough, independent, impartial and timely investigations".