Buried deep in an NYT report:
Peter Marosszeky, a longtime aircraft engineer and former senior executive at Qantas, PanAm and American Airlines who advised Boeing on the development of the 777 aircraft, said in a telephone interview that the 777-200 had an extremely long range and would have enough fuel to divert around a dangerous area during a 12-hour flight if the pilots chose to do so. But he said that airlines have typically not worried until now about surface-to-air missiles reaching planes at cruising altitude, because only a very large missile with a lot of fuel could ascend such a distance.
Mr. Marosszeky expressed skepticism that militiamen could readily fire such a large missile without training as well as cooperation from whoever owned or manufactured the missile. “You’ve got to have special codes and so forth to operate these things,” he said.
Those require training and technical knowledge that would be difficult for rebels to acquire if they had only recently taken possession of the systems—unless they had previous military training on the equipment.
“If it was a Buk, that is a quite sophisticated system that would require some kind of knowledge about how it works,” said Douglas Barrie, senior fellow for military aerospace at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. “This is not the kind of system you can just pick up and use.”