Sinai Crash Caused by “External Influences”

 

_86435749_86435748The Russian airline Kogalymavia has blamed “external influences” for Saturday’s Sinai plane crash which killed 224 people, reports the BBC:

A senior airline official said: “The only reasonable explanation is that it was [due to] external influence.” …

At a news conference in Moscow, the deputy director of the airline, which was later renamed Metrojet, ruled out a technical fault and pilot error.

“The only [explanation] for the plane to have been destroyed in mid-air can be specific impact, purely mechanical, physical influence on the aircraft,” Alexander Smirnov said.

“There is no such combination of failures of systems which could have led to the plane disintegrating in the air,” he added.

Beats me what that means. Beats me what it implies. Your best guess?

 

 

Published in Foreign Policy
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  1. MLH Inactive
    MLH
    @MLH

    This?

    • #1
  2. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Bomb. Tail separated well before impact.

    • #2
  3. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    iWe:Bomb. Tail separated well beforeimpact.

    Could you perhaps elaborate for the laymen am0ng us?

    • #3
  4. livingthehighlife Inactive
    livingthehighlife
    @livingthehighlife

    Sounds like they believe it was shot out of the sky, or by a bomb placed inside the plane.

    Both were my suspicion as well.  It’s highly rare for a plane to just fall from the sky, and only two examples I can think of were true accidents:  Air France 447 and TWA 800.

    • #4
  5. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    livingthehighlife:Sounds like they believe it was shot out of the sky, or by a bomb placed inside the plane.

    Both were my suspicion as well. It’s highly rare for a plane to just fall from the sky, and only two examples I can think of were true accidents: Air France 447 and TWA 800.

    TWA 800. Sorry, but that’s silly.

    • #5
  6. SteveSc Member
    SteveSc
    @SteveSc

    MLH:This?

    Well, if that leads Putin to bombing them, I’m fine with that.

    • #6
  7. livingthehighlife Inactive
    livingthehighlife
    @livingthehighlife

    Barfly:

    livingthehighlife:Sounds like they believe it was shot out of the sky, or by a bomb placed inside the plane.

    Both were my suspicion as well. It’s highly rare for a plane to just fall from the sky, and only two examples I can think of were true accidents: Air France 447 and TWA 800.

    TWA 800. Sorry, but that’s silly.

    Please explain?

    • #7
  8. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Suppose we had a source who knew this would happen.

    Suppose telling them would blow the source.

    Would it be ethical to tell them?

    • #8
  9. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Just like MH17, it must have been those Israelis.

    • #9
  10. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    livingthehighlife: It’s highly rare for a plane to just fall from the sky, and only two examples I can think of were true accidents:  Air France 447 and TWA 800

    What is not a “true accident”? You have already excluded bombs and missiles like Pan Am 103 and KAL 007 among others.

    • #10
  11. livingthehighlife Inactive
    livingthehighlife
    @livingthehighlife

    ctlaw:

    livingthehighlife: It’s highly rare for a plane to just fall from the sky, and only two examples I can think of were true accidents: Air France 447 and TWA 800

    What is not a “true accident”? You have already excluded bombs and missiles like Pan Am 103 and KAL 007 among others.

    Maybe I’m not communicating clearly.  KAL 007, Pan Am 103 and MH17 were not accidents.  They were intentionally targeted and blown up in flight.  (Maybe MH17 was miss-identified, but it was still targeted on radar and shot.)

    Air France 447 was pilot error.  TWA 800 was a faulty circuit in the fuel tank.  I consider these accidents.

    My point is most of the time when a plane falls out of the sky, it’s because of nefarious intent, so it leads one to believe that the MetroJet crash is also due to nefarious intent.

    We’ll see, though.

    • #11
  12. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: Beats me what that means. Beats me what it implies. Your best guess?

    Dunno.  But did they note whether external influences must have been involved in the plane that crashed with Poland’s president aboard?

    • #12
  13. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Here is the explanation.

    When an airplane crashes, it leaves a wake of damage and pieces. That wake is limited in length.

    Most of this airplane hit the ground in one place. But the tail was 1.2 nautical miles away. Which means that it separated when the airplane was still at some elevation. So the airplane was not flown into the ground (either on purpose or by accident).  See heremetrojet_a321_ei-etj_sinai_151031_map1

    • #13
  14. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    For an airplane to break up in the air is quite rare, and hard to do. It CAN happen because of fatigue over time (and it could even be related to the tail strike in 2001). But usually those fatigue events happen during stressful phases of flight, not the beginning of cruise at altitude.

    If there was a missile, Israel would almost certainly have seen it, and told someone. So that leaves a bomb as the most likely case. But fatigue is not ruled out.

    Here is a wrinkle: The recorders are in the tail. So if the tail separated as the first event, the recorders may not tell us anything besides when and where the tail separated (the data stream stopped). It will not tell us what the airplane or pilots did in response to the tail separation.

    • #14
  15. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    The Russians are, by the way, speaking out of turn. Their speculation is no more informed than mine.

    • #15
  16. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    Perhaps a financially marginal airline trying to get ahead of the news cycle, jumping the gun on actual data?

    A bomb could fit the know facts (structural failure), so could a fuel tank explosion (TWA 800) or a pressure bulkhead failure (JAL 123).  Gotta wait for both the black box data and wreck analysis, most likely.

    • #16
  17. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Locke On:Perhaps a financially marginal airline trying to get ahead of the news cycle, jumping the gun on actual data?

    The airline is finished anyway. This is Russian damage control.

    A bomb could fit the know facts (structural failure), so could a fuel tank explosion (TWA 800)

    Except that it was not a fuel tank explosion. But that is a side issue.

    or a pressure bulkhead failure (JAL 123). Gotta wait for both the black box data and wreck analysis, most likely.

    If the triggering event separated the tail quickly, then the wreck analysis will have the answers. The black boxes, as I said, are in the tail (aft of the aft pressure bulkhead) – so they won’t have any data from after separation.

    • #17
  18. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    iWe, there’s not one hell of a lot a pilot can do after tail separation.

    The types of surface to air missiles that can hit an aircraft at altitude are limited and quite large. This was likely a bomb, or something bomb-like, such as experts think might have led to the crash of UPS Airlines Flight 6 with a shipment of lithium ion batteries on board.

    • #18
  19. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    The most common cause is what is known as CFIT – Controlled Flight Into Terrain. Pilots land too early or too late, or aim at the ground (suicide).

    Secondarily we have pilot error such as AF447 where pilots don’t understand that the pilot is stalling, and they can pancake it all the way down.

    This crash fits neither type. Which leaves mechanical fatigue and/or bomb/missile as the most likely. We have examples of both bringing aircraft down from altitude.

    • #19
  20. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Percival:iWe, there’s not one hell of a lot a pilot can do after tail separation.

    Agreed.

    The types of surface to air missiles that can hit an aircraft at altitude are limited and quite large.

    Agreed. And, as I mentioned, I think Israel would almost certainly have sensed a missile launch in their backyard.

    This was likely a bomb, or something bomb-like, such as experts think might have led to the crash of UPS Airlines Flight 6 with a shipment of lithium ion batteries on board.

    Agreed as well. Though mechanical fatigue could still have been the main cause or at least contributory.

    • #20
  21. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Call me cynical, and maybe I’m marrying Russia to her own past…

    but the minute I heard the news of this crash, my first thought was “oh, there will now be an ‘investigation’ and Putin will find someone at fault; conveniently, it will be a country he wants to invade.”

    Now, I’m not up on the current goings-on in the area, and I’m probably completely wrong, but that was my initial thought.

    • #21
  22. Eric Hines Inactive
    Eric Hines
    @EricHines

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:Suppose we had a source who knew this would happen.

    Suppose telling them would blow the source.

    Would it be ethical to tell them?

    Ultra.

    Eric Hines

    • #22
  23. Eric Hines Inactive
    Eric Hines
    @EricHines

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: Your best guess?

    Fuel leak, fumes buildup, spark, and explosion.

    I don’t know, though, how far forward the tail was separated from the main, and not all that far back would create an odd fuel line routing to get from the wet wings to the under-wing engines.

    Eric Hines

    • #23
  24. Eric Hines Inactive
    Eric Hines
    @EricHines

    Ryan M:Call me cynical, and maybe I’m marrying Russia to her own past…

    but the minute I heard the news of this crash, my first thought was “oh, there will now be an ‘investigation’ and Putin will find someone at fault; conveniently, it will be a country he wants to invade.”

    Now, I’m not up on the current goings-on in the area, and I’m probably completely wrong, but that was my initial thought.

    Even under Putin, Russian airline maintenance is notoriously bad.

    Eric Hines

    • #24
  25. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    iWe: Though mechanical fatigue could still have been the main cause or at least contributory.

    This is interesting.  56,000 hours flight time,  21,000 flight cycles (the Aloha plane had over 90,000 cycles), but a tail strike incident back in 2001.

    • #25
  26. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Claire,

    “There is no such combination of failures of systems which could have led to the plane disintegrating in the air,” he added.

    Let us assume that the failure of any one particular system on the plane has a probability. Let us assume that the systems in question are independent of one another (the failure of one system does not force the failure of another). Then the probability of the failure of two systems simultaneously failing is their probabilities multiplied.

    Let us say, for the sake of argument, that the probability of one system failing is .0001. As we see the simultaneous failure of multiple independent systems the probability of the simultaneous event would be .0001 x .ooo1 x .ooo1 x .0001…etc.

    The likelihood of the simultaneous event actually happening, without the assistance of a bomb on board or a missile hitting the plane, approaches absurdly long odds.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #26
  27. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    What percentage of airliners of that age have suffered tail strikes?

    • #27
  28. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Eric Hines:

    Ryan M:Call me cynical, and maybe I’m marrying Russia to her own past…

    but the minute I heard the news of this crash, my first thought was “oh, there will now be an ‘investigation’ and Putin will find someone at fault; conveniently, it will be a country he wants to invade.”

    Now, I’m not up on the current goings-on in the area, and I’m probably completely wrong, but that was my initial thought.

    Even under Putin, Russian airline maintenance is notoriously bad.

    Eric Hines

    Oh, I believe that – but Putin has always felt a lot more like his Soviet predecessors.  Like I said, maybe it is unfair to assume the worst, and I’m certainly not suggesting that Putin shot down his own plane in order to invade someone; but when opportunity knocks…

    • #28
  29. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Eric Hines:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: Your best guess?

    Fuel leak, fumes buildup, spark, and explosion.

    Sparks don’t make Jet A combust.

    This was the flaw in the TWA 800 post-mortem. They failed, despite trying time and again, to get jet fuel vapors to explode with a spark source. It does not happen. You can drop a lit match into a vat of Jet A, and the fuel will not even ignite.

    • #29
  30. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    ctlaw:What percentage of airliners of that age have suffered tail strikes?

    Tail strikes happen – my WAG is that fewer than 2% of planes ever have one. Many are not reported, though. And certain aircraft (longer ones like the 757-300 or the A321) are much more prone if the pilot rotates too quickly on takeoff.

    • #30
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