The Metrojet plane crash, which happened in the Egyptian desert, wasn’t due to technical fault or pilot error, indicated the airliner. However, the company hasn’t confirmed if the plane was attacked.
Russian airline Metrojet, whose plane, with 224 onboard, disintegrated over the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, has confirmed that the plane did not suffer any malfunction. Moreover, it is highly unlikely that it was pilot error that downed the plane, said the company. The plane’s breaking-up in midair was most likely caused by an “external mechanical impact,” said Alexander Smirnov, deputy general director of Metrojet.
“We rule out a technical fault of the plane or a pilot error. The only possible explanation could be an external impact on the airplane.”
Smirnov refused to elaborate what he meant by “external mechanical impact,” and remained silent when asked if the plane was hit from the outside, reported MSN. Moreover, when reporters persisted, asking what sort of impact the company suspects brought down the plane, Smirnov flatly refused to divulge any more details, saying he wasn’t at liberty to discuss details because of an ongoing investigation.
However, Smirnov did categorically mention the commercial jetliner, Metrojet Airbus 321-200, was routinely inspected to ensure it was air-worthy. He added that the airplane was highly unlikely to go into a spiral, even if the pilots would have made a grave error. This is because all planes have stabilization systems that autonomously correct the plane’s stability, orientation, and even trajectory, if needed.
The passenger plane was cruising at a standard altitude of 31,000 feet when its speed abruptly dropped 300 kmph (186 mph) and its altitude by 1.5 kilometers (5,000). All this happened under a minute, before the plane crashed, killing all 224 onboard. The Metrojet plane was flying over the Sinai Peninsula when it crashed just 23 minutes after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St. Petersburg, reported WAFB.
Neither the statements from the company, nor those from Russia’s administration, have clearly indicated the cause behind the plane crash. Russian aviation officials, however, were quick to reprimand the company for drawing such hasty conclusions. The head of the Russian aviation agency, Alexander Neradko, called the company’s comments about the likely cause of the plane crash as “premature and not based on any real facts.” He has strongly urged that aviation officials hold their conclusions and speak only after investigators have studied the scattered fragments of the plane.
Interestingly, though, Dmitri Peskov, the personal spokesman to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has assured that an act of terrorism hasn’t been ruled out. But he strongly urged the media to practice restraint and have patience until the investigation is completed.
Incidentally, authorities have recovered the black boxes, the devices that record the activity in the cockpit. However, Neradko insisted that Egyptian authorities will not begin studying the black boxes until representatives of all the involved parties arrive. He was referring not just to the representatives of the countries, i.e. Egypt and Russia, but also from the company that made the plane, i.e. Airbus, the company that owned the plane (Metrojet), and also independent experts from France, Germany, and Ireland for added measure.
There have been a lot of discrepancies and contradictions since the Metrojet plane crash. While an Egyptian official indicated the pilot had confirmed his intentions of landing at the nearest airport as the plane was experiencing some “technical problems,” Viktor Yung, another deputy director general of Metrojet, mentioned the crew never sent any distress message. Meanwhile, conflicting reports indicate an official at the Sharm el-Sheikh airport confirmed the Air Traffic Controller (ATC) at the airport did receive a distress call.
These inconsistencies may reaffirm doubts if it was, indeed, ISIS that shot down the plane. But, if the ISIS claims are true, then the terrorist faction possesses missile systems that are capable of hitting a fast moving object 31,000 feet in the air, a theory many defense experts refute.
Most modern planes crash only in the event of catastrophic weather, midair collision, or external threats like bombs, unless they suffer from irrecoverable internal systems failure. Unless the air-crash investigators complete their investigations, it may not be possible to determine what crashed the Metrojet plane.
[Photo by Sergei Korovkin / Getty Images]