Sunday, November 1, 2015

Flight 7K9268: What We Do And Don't Know About The Crash [Updated] - More ISIS Claims

Flight 7K9268: What we do and don’t know about Russia’s deadliest-ever air crash

As experts prepare to analyze the flight recorders, the number of theories speculating about the demise of the Russian plane crash that killed 224 people on Saturday is proliferating by the hour. RT separates the facts from the conjecture.

What was the sequence of events leading up to the tragedy?

The Airbus A321-200 took off from the Egyptian seaside resort of Sharm El-Sheikh at 5:51am local time (3:51 UTC), in the direction of St.Petersburg. Some 22 minutes later, air control, according to local officials, lost contact with the jet, which by then had climbed to 9,450 meters (31,000 feet ). 

Flight tracking websites then reported a rapid, almost vertical, descent. The manufacturer Airbus says the plane hit the ground about three minutes later, killing every single person on-board. There was no distress call.

How did the plane crash?

The head of Russian aviation agency Rosaviatsia, Aleksandr Neradko, has said that “all signs testify to the fact that the destruction of the structure of the airplane took place in the air and at a great altitude.” The principal evidence is that the remains of the plane and the bodies have been scattered over an area measuring about 8 km by 4 km. An Egyptian military source told the media that the plane cracked open into two main segments, one of which collided with a rock on impact.

Why did it crash?

This is the big question, as of now. Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL)-affiliated militants, based in Sinai, stole a march on officials, when they claimed responsibility for the downing of the plane. Russian authorities – backed up by Egyptian officials – have dismissed the boasts as being out of hand, saying the terrorists in the region do not possess the specialized equipment necessary to shoot down a large passenger jet flying at cruising height. Nonetheless, several major carriers have diverted their planes from the route, at least for the time being.

This does not necessarily rule out an act of terror

“Early reports said that the aircraft split into two and that suggests a catastrophic failure, not a mechanical failure, but that suggests perhaps an explosion on board,” posited Michael Clarke, Director General of the Royal United Services Institute, an aviation think tank. “It's much more likely to have been a bomb on board rather than a missile fired from the ground.”

Could a problem with the plane or its crew have caused the disaster?

Some contradictions here. Siberian operator Kogalymavia, also known as Metrojet, has said that a technical malfunction, even one as serious as an engine fire, could not have led to such a rapid disintegration, and Egyptian authorities say the aircraft passed the pre-flight check without incidents.

The Airbus itself was 18 years old – not a particularly grand age by aircraft standards – and had been leased from Aercap, the world’s biggest plane leasing company. It had only suffered one minor incident in 2001.

When will there be more clarity?

The flight recorders have now been taken to Cairo, with Egyptian officials set to lead the investigation, with the aid of Russian specialists. A team of outside experts has been dispatched by Airbus from France, and two more US investigators will join the analysis, as the engines for the jet were manufactured there. Fragments of the plane will also have to be gathered, meaning that definitive analysis of the causes of the crash are likely to be named after weeks, if not months.

Just when it seemed as though the conflict in Syria and the attendant ISIS saga couldn’t possibly get any more surreal, on Saturday a Russian passenger jet fell out of the sky over the Sinai Peninsula. Subsequently, ISIS claimed responsibility and released a video clip that purportedly depicts the mid-air explosion that brought the plane down. 

And so, even as the "experts" claim that i) ISIS couldn't have shot the plane down, and ii) that the data seem to "rule out" sabotage, one can't help but note that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was brought down by a missile over Ukraine and furthermore, it's not clear why "some sort of control problem" isn't compatible with someone either hitting the aircraft with a projectile or else detonating an explosive on board. That is, when planes explode in mid-flight, it tends to lead to "control problems." Indeed, Russian officials have confirmed that the plane "broke apart in the air": 

"It is too early to draw conclusions," MAK executive director Viktor Sorochenko says. "Disintegration of the fuselage took place in the air, and the fragments are scattered around a large area [about 20 square kilometers]", the official added.
Yes, it "broke apart", which would appear to suggest that it in fact exploded. And so even as it will probably never be possible to definitively say whether or not the video released on Saturday is real or fake, we would note once again that if the footage is authentic, someone on the ground knew exactly when to start filming.

In any event, we'll await the "official" word, although reports indicate that it could take weeks, or even months to determine exactly what happened here. That said, if there's even a shred of credible evidence to corroborate the video shown above, don't expect The Kremlin to wait around on the full report as IS in Sinai may soon find themselves shooting at other Russian jets in the skies above Egypt - only these jets will be shooting back. 

Egyptian analysts began examining the contents of the two "black box" recorders recovered from the airliner although the process, according to a civil aviation source, could take days. However, Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov told Russia 24 television that this work had not yet started. 

Carriers from United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait said they would re-route flights over Sinai as a security precaution until there was more clarity. Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways said it would continue to overfly the peninsula but avoid airspace over certain areas on the advice of Egyptian authorities.

A militant group affiliated to Islamic State in Egypt said in a statement that it brought down the plane "in response to Russian airstrikes that killed hundreds of Muslims on Syrian land", but Sokolov told Interfax news agency the claim "can't be considered accurate".
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said it could take months to establish the truth behind the crash though his country was cooperating with Russia to aid investigations. 
"This is a complicated matter and requires advanced technologies and broad investigations that could take months," Sisi said in a televised speech on Sunday. 
The wreckage was found in a desolate area of stony ground.
Rescuers had collected the colorful suitcases of the passengers into a pile. A pink child's sandal decorated with white flowers lay among the debris, a reminder that 17 children were among those killed as they headed home from their holidays.

Parts of the wreckage were blackened and charred, with one section forming heaps of twisted metal, although the blue Metrojet logo was still visible on its broken tail fin.
As the Russian investigators moved slowly across the site, Egyptian military helicopters buzzed overhead, combing the wider area for debris - or bodies - not yet found.
At least 163 bodies had already been recovered and transported to various hospitals including Zeinhom morgue in Cairo, according to a cabinet statement. 
Airport security sources said Russian experts who arrived on Saturday brought with them refrigerators and DNA samples to help identify and take home the dead. 
Russian experts had already visited the morgue on Saturday night and Moscow's ambassador to Cairo said the first 130 bodies were due to leave on Sunday evening bound for St Petersburg.

Experts from Airbus have begun arriving in Egypt to assist in the investigation, the civil aviation ministry said.

ISIS claims: We downed Russian airliner in ‘sophisticated attack’

Insiders in the group that represents ISIS in the Gaza Strip claimed to WND Sunday that the global jihadist group will soon release information purporting to show how it helped to bring down the Russian passenger plane that crashed in Egypt, killing all 224 people on board.
Salafist jihadists in the Gaza Strip who operate under the ISIS banner in the territory said the global jihad group was indeed involved in the downing of the aircraft Saturday morning.
They claimed it was not a missile that brought the plane down and that supposed evidence will soon be released by ISIS.
One ISIS leader in Gaza told WND that “in the Russian plane operation our brothers used their brains more than their bullets or their explosives. It was part of a brains war.”
The ISIS leader hinted to similarities with the 9/11 attacks as far as what he described as the level of sophistication of the claimed attack on the Russian jet.
The ISIS leader spoke on condition of anonymity, citing specific ISIS instructions for all members of the global jihad group to refrain from putting out information concerning the attack for the time being.
Other ISIS ideologues in Gaza further claimed the video circulating on the Internet purporting to show the final moments of the Russian jet is not authentic.
The Gazan ISIS ideologues fight under the same ISIS banner as their jihadist comrades in the neighboring Peninsula, the group formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which claimed it was behind the fatal plane crash.

“Early reports said it split into two and that suggests a catastrophic failure, not a mechanical failure, but perhaps an explosion on board, so I would be much more inclined to think, if we have to guess at this stage, it is much more likely to have been a bomb on board than a missile fired from the ground.”

He continued: “And there’s no sign of a distress call, so the idea that the aircraft was undergoing an mechanical problem, or an engine problem, or a fire, or something like that, you would expect that there would be some sort of distress call beforehand.”

“So the fact that there was a catastrophic failure at 31,000 feet, with the aircraft falling in two pieces, suggests to me an explosion on board. So was this caused by some form of terrible accident, which is unlikely, or a bomb, which is much more likely, my mind is moving in that direction rather than anything that happened on the ground.”

1 comment:

Peter said...

Very interesting. Seems likely there was a bomb on board. Did you see the ISIS video threatening Israel today? I thought the words were very interesting - especially the part about the war of stone and wood!

""My message to the [IDF] officers and soldiers and all the Jews - we will fight you with God's help, we will come for you from across the world and we will slaughter you like sheep, prepare for the big war, the war of stone and wood. This is be soon and not long," said the jihadist in the video.

Meanwhile, Erdogan won big today in Turkey. There were repeated shouts of 'Allah Akbar' and anti-Israel chants in the halls of the party after the win. He's already calling for a new constitution. Get ready for the 10 nation coalition!