‘External Influence’: Russian Plane Crash: ‘Planes Don’t Just Break Apart in Mid-Air’

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(CNN) The only reasonable explanation for the crash of a Russian passenger jet in Egypt is “an external influence,” an executive from the airline that operated the flight said Monday, stressing that planes don’t just break apart in midair.

“There was nothing abnormal before the plane crash. It suddenly disappeared from the radar.”

— Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamel

Kogalymavia Flight 9268 broke into pieces before it hit the ground in a remote area of Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, killing all 224 people on board. 

The executive was not specific about what he meant by an external influence. Experts say it is too early to know for certain what caused the plane to break up at the start of what could be a lengthy investigation.

The state-run Russian news agency Sputniknews.com reported that the head of Rosaviatsia, the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency, had told Rossiya-25 television that claims that external factors could have caused the crash were not based in fact.

“It is completely premature to speak about the reasons of this, as there are not grounds. And I’d like to call on the aviation community to refrain from any premature conclusions,” it quoted Alexander Neradko, the agency chief, as telling the station.

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CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest suggested that the Kogalymavia official could have meant something abnormal and out of the ordinary had occurred.

“We exclude technical problems and reject human error,” the Kogalymavia airline official, Alexander Smirnov, said at a Moscow news conference as he discussed possible causes of the crash.

He added that the crew did not issue any warnings or communications during the final moments, indicating that the flight crew must have been disabled and not able to radio out.

However, Smirnov said that while the plane’s flight and voice data recorders had been recovered, they had not been read or decoded.

Officials have played down an apparent claim by Islamic militants in Sinai that they brought down the Airbus A321-200, saying technical failure is the most likely reason for the crash.

Here’s where things stand:

THE FLIGHT

Flight 9268 was on its way from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg early Saturday when it dropped off radar about 23 minutes into the flight, Egyptian officials say.

Air traffic controllers apparently didn’t receive any distress calls from the pilots. “There was nothing abnormal before the plane crash,” Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamel said Saturday. “It suddenly disappeared from the radar.”

CNN’s Richard Quest said it was “unusual” for an aircraft to go down roughly 20 minutes into a flight.

“At this point, a plane is on autopilot. It’s reaching its initial cruising altitude, and there is little that can or should go wrong,” he wrote in an analysis.

But the website Flightradar24, which tracks aircraft around the world, said it had received data from the Russian plane suggesting sharp changes in altitude and a dramatic decrease in ground speed before the signal was lost.

“It’s disturbing to me. It indicates to me that something occurred possibly in the way of aerodynamic stall. I mean, an airplane just cannot fly at those lower speeds,” said CNN aviation analyst Les Abend, although he cautioned that the Flightradar information was very preliminary.

THE CRASH

“Disintegration of the fuselage took place in the air, and the fragments are scattered around a large area” covering about 20 square kilometers (8 square miles), Viktor Sorochenko, executive director of Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee, told reporters Sunday….(read more)

Source: CNN.com



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