Archive for the 'accident' Category

Malaysia Airlines MH370 Hijacked – Then Crashed or Shot Down?

It has been a week. A full week since the now famous Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, has disappeared. It disappeared from radars, from air traffic control, from the map – and from the Asian skies as well…

This past (very long) week will be the food for thought and the basis for media speculation for months, if not years to come. At the current moment, after one week of contradicting information having been published, and leaked by multiple nations’ authorities and unnamed “resources familiar with the matter”, we barely know anything about what actually may have happened. We don’t know facts, other than that the plane’s transponder stopped working above the South China Sea – about one hour into the flight, and that it has never arrived to Beijing.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER that operated flight MH370.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER that operated flight MH370 (registration 9M-MRO)

 

The public news that were published and circulated state that the plane has not crashed around the area where it was last seen on radars, nor has it landed anywhere in the vicinity. Authorities have searched to the North, to the East, then with a sudden twist to the West last week – without proper reasoning back then. HOWEVER, the picture that is being drawn by the known – and at least twice confirmed – “facts” leads us to the conclusion that the plane must have been hijacked. Why?

The transponder was turned off. It did not simply stop working, it was turned off – otherwise it would have sent signals during a crash. And it was turned off at the right time. The plane just left Malaysian air space, saying the last words “Good night!” – so the Malaysian air traffic control would not be looking for it for a while. The plane has not yet checked in with the Vietnamese air traffic controllers – so they would not be looking for it for a while, either – giving a free, uncontrolled hour or so worth of head-start flying time for the hijacked plane, before any civil authorities would start looking for it. The transponder being off simply takes it off the civilian radars as well. By the time military radars pick it up and start checking it – in the middle of a Friday night with probably only a handful of workers on duty – the plane could have flown on its own for probably like 2 hours or so.

The plane changed direction. After the transponder was turned off, the plane changed direction and instead of continuing North-East, it turned back West and flew past the Malaysian peninsula – following navigational points, which indicates that the person in control in the cockpit knew where they were flying, and knew exactly where they wanted to get. This is information now (7 days later) confirmed by the Malaysian Prime Minister, based on Malaysian military data. (This was once said back on the second or third day of the search, but was then denied the same day…) Even though they turned off the so called ACARS reporting system that sends data from the engines to Boeing and Rolls-Royce (the manufacturer of the turbines), this system continued to ping satellites – practically giving a life-signal, but no any additional data. But it says that the engines were running for at least 4 hours more, but some reports say that up to 7 hours more after the reporting was turned off…

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER - on airliners.net by Konstantin von Wedelstaedt

The plane changed altitude. Drastically. Multiple times. This may sound like a small detail, but to me it indicates that the person in control in the cockpit knew what they were doing. Flying up to 45.000 feet (beyond the 777’s official maximum altitude) may have knocked out the passengers on board so that they were unconscious for at least a little time. (The pilot(s) in control may have taken the oxygen masks before going up so high.) Maybe then someone onboard took away their mobile phones and any other communication devices they could find in the pockets and elsewhere. Then the plane went much lower – to avoid some of the civil radars and continue it’s new flying course.

Then what happened? This is of course the biggest question. We need to look at the possible motivation/goal behind the hijacking to seek answers for this.

  • Pilot suicide – they would have taken the plane down after they took control, crashing into the South China Sea, leaving debris. No debris found, therefore can be ruled out.
  • Seeking global attention for a (political) cause – “typical” terrorist approach, but they would have contacted the government and global media with their reasons behind the hijacking. No media reported anything similar, therefore can be ruled out.
  • Seeking political asylum – hijack the plane, and land in a third, free country. It would only make sense for those with a fake passport on board – but as they had a working fake passport (they could get through security and onboard), it would make little sense to complicate matters this much. Plus, the country where they would have landed, would have already publicized the event and we would know about it. Ruled out.
  • Stealing the plane and selling it – given the so many identifiers and easy recognition of the plane itself, this is very unlikely that another airline would actually buy it…  Putting it on eBay would not be a solution, either. Can be ruled out in my opinion.
  • Stealing the plane for technological advances – this would only be useful for a handful of countries, like North Korea, Iran, Pakistan and some others in the region. Stealing a maintenance handbook could almost be as useful, unless you need some special material from onboard. Seems unlikely in my opinion, especially as North Korea is in the other direction (would have made more sense to hijack the plane much later in the flight in order to reduce risks), and Iran is simply too far away.
  • Seeking ransom for the plane and the passengers – this could be a valid motivation – but it requires the plane to be landed. Otherwise there is no plane and passengers they you can ask the money for. We would probably know about it by now – but could be that the negotiating government is keeping this information from the media.
  • Gaining control over someone onboard, or something in the cargo hold – this could be a valid motivation – but it also requires the plane to be landed. Otherwise there is no person or no cargo that you can unload the use later on. We will probably never learn if there was any classified cargo on board, such as special weapons, weapon materials or anything similar. The affected governments would never release such information publicly.

So the plane could have landed somewhere. We would probably know about it by now, there would be some witness who would tell the American or any other media for a little money if they had seen such a big plane – even simply flying low, not to mention landing on a remote airstrip. I believe we can rule this out, unless there is a big conspiracy behind this missing flight. (Like it landed on a small island airport, they stripped all communication devices, let the crew and passengers out, and flew it somewhere else under a different flight number and with a new transponder on board. Or they took it apart, or buried it in the ground, or put it in a hangar – but it’s a big plane. So the number of such big hangars, and runways able to support such a plane on such a small island is really only a handful.)

The plane could have crashed on its own. Running out of fuel would be a dumb mistake from someone who could turn off the transponder, though… Crashing after such a long flight on purpose would be a waste of time and lots of risk for a suicide crash. It could have crashed – in case the passengers had a “riot” on board against the hijackers and the onboard fight resulted in someone taking over the cockpit who had no idea how to fly the plane. The cockpit is complex enough, that in such a case, an amateur would not be able to turn on the radio, the transponder and seek help from the ground – let alone getting instructions on how to land the aircraft somewhere. In such a case, they may have run out of fuel actually.

And finally, The plane could have been shut down by military. Just look at the last two possible motivational ideas above. Either case, the government (sorry, but given it was a Malaysian aircraft, we must assume the Malaysian government here) may have shot down the airliner to reduce further risk and danger. They may have actually negotiated with the hijackers in the first hours or so, but getting no results and seeing the plane flying out of Malaysian Air Space, they went ahead and shot it down. If there was some precious, illegal cargo on board, it’s better to have it rest somewhere at the bottom of the Indian Ocean than having it land at a terrorist base… Now this scenario could be the reason behind why the Malaysian authorities were giving so contradicting information for days. They simply had no communication plan for such a situation. Or they had one, but the fact that most of the passengers on board (154 out of the 239 including crew) were Chinese, simply does not allow it to be confirmed. As it would lead to a very tricky political situation with the biggest (super)power in the region: China. And this is not something Malaysia (or any other country in the area for that matter) wants. (Alternatively, the military may not even have noticed the whole thing – as per the BBC.)

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK by leaving a comment for this article or voting here below.

So the facts what we knew are pointing to a hijacking scenario, with one of the more tragical ends. The plane is still missing. The plane can not be in the air anymore, so it must have either landed, or crashed, or shot down.

We may learn the faith of MH 370, or we may never get to know what really happened. It will soon transfer to a legal procedure between Malaysia Airlines and the aircraft insurer, the airline and the passengers’ relatives, the airline and the cargo owners, and maybe the airline and some media outlets about the contradicting information published during this last week.

We’ll keep an eye on the future news about this mysterious flight and suggest that you do as well.

by balint01

Thoughts During a Crash Landing

We covered the original “story”, of the US Airways Airbus crash landing into the Hudson River back in January 2009. We also shared the Pilot’s blog post about the miraculous event. We even shared a game that was released after the safe landing…

US Airways Airbus in the Hudson River in New York City - from webpark.ru

But for some reason, we haven’t come across this great TED video for all those years. This video is from 2011 (so not new at all), but still worth sharing here as well, I believe. Rick Elias had the seat 1D on flight 1549 that day. He talks about his thoughts that went through his mind as the plane was preparing to attempt the almost impossible landing on the Hudson River. He shares three things with us:

by balint01

Sukhoi SuperJet 100 Missing in Indonesia

A Russian built Sukhoi Superjet 100 passenger plane with at least 44 people aboard has gone missing on a demonstration flight in Indonesia, on 9th May, 2012 – and confirmed the next morning to have crashed into the side of the Mount Salak volcano.

The plane took off from east Jakarta’s Halim Perdanakusuma airport shortly before 14:00 local time (07:00 GMT) and was scheduled to fly an approx. 30 min circle from Jakarta as the second of two demonstration flights today, with 8 Russian and 36 other nationalities (two Italians, one American, one French, all the rest were Indonesian) on board. Those people are believed to be mostly airline employees (the potential buyers– representatives from Indonesia’s Batavia, Pelita, Air Aviastar, and Sriwijaya Air) invited by Sukhoi to this demo flight in the hope of buying the airplane which Sukhoi is trying to sell on the global market. Indonesia has been a potential breakout selling location due to the country’s aging fleet and growing demand for air travel. 8 SuperJets have been in operation with Aeroflot and Armenian Armavia for more than a year now with only minor incidents.

At 14:12 (21 minutes into the flight) it requested approval for descending from 10.000 ft to 6.000 ft from air traffic control. While starting the descent, the plane disappeared from radar screens near Bogor, a city in West Java province, near Mount Salak (7,200ft, 2,200m), a volcano south of Jakarta – a blogger with the Sukhoi delegation said. Juanda, a villager who lives near the mountain, told local TV: “I saw a big plane passing just over my house.” “It was veering a bit to one side, the engine roaring. It seemed to be heading toward Salak, but I didn’t hear an explosion or anything.” BBC reports that Jocean Bowler, an American running an organic farm on the slopes of the mountain, which is a popular tourist destination, said: “Salak’s a big mountain, I didn’t hear anything.

Emergency services confirmed a Sukhoi plane was missing and two helicopters were dispatched to find the jet. The plane is believed to have had about four hours’ fuel aboard, the BBC’s Karishma Vaswani reports from Jakarta, but as darkness fell, the helicopter search was called off due to dusk and unpredictable weather, but rescuers continued looking for the plane on the ground, he said….

The latest reports suggest the mobile phones of at least two passengers are working, though nobody has picked up. “A call waiting tone can be heard, but nobody is answering,” the director of Angkasa Aviation magazine says, as cited by Detik.com. Two employees of Angkasa, Didi Yusuf and Dodi Aviantara, were reportedly onboard the missing plane. The aircraft is believed to be one of two company prototypes being used for sales and marketing promotion tours. The missing aircraft’s registration number is SN95004.

UPDATE: Thursday morning teams searching for the plane spotted debris from the Sukhoi Superjet 100 at a height of about 5,800 feet (1,800 meters) on the side of Mount Salak, around 1.5km (one mile) from the spot where the plane last made radio contact, and the Sukhoi logo had been identified amid the wreckage – said Daryatmo, head of the National Search and Rescue Agency. There was no sign of any passengers but rescuers were preparing to drop a team from a helicopter onto the ridge to search for survivors, a military official said. No bodies have been found at the scene, but human remains found will be taken to hospitals for DNA tests. Experts say that survival chances are very low given that the crash seem to have happened on the nearly vertical side of a very steep mountain cliff.

Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev established a special commission to investigate the accident.

The Superjet, a mid-range airliner that can carry up to 100 people, is military plane-maker Sukhoi’s first commercial aviation plane. This particular Sukhoi Superjet 100 airplane arrived in Jakarta as part of a demonstration tour of six Asian countries. It had been to Myanmar, Pakistan and Kazakhstan, and was due to visit Laos and Vietnam after Indonesia, Russian RIA Novosti said.

The first completely new Russian Passenger Aircraft since the Cold War was created by a joint venture, majority-owned by Sukhoi, with Italy’s Finmeccanica and a number of other foreign and Russian firms also involved. 170 of the type has been ordered by airlines so far, with 8 delivered to Aeroflot and Armavia. It gained European Aviation Safety Agency certification in early February and Sukhoi was aiming to sell 42 such planes in Indonesia.

by balint01

LOT Boeing 767 Emergency Landing

A Boeing 767 operated by LOT Polish Airlines made a successful emergency landing in Warsaw, Poland on Tuesday, 1 November, after a hydraulic failure led to the landing gears not opening before landing.

Flight LO-16 was bound to Warszawa-Frédéric Chopin Airport from New York Newark airport with 220 passengers and 11 crew onboard. According to Aviation Safety Network, at about 13:16 local time, while on approach to Warsaw’s runway 33, the crew encountered problems lowering the undercarriage (gears). The airplane entered a holding pattern at 2750 feet but the gear could not be deployed. While on holding, they burnt off most of the remaining fuel onboard, and thenthe crew decided to carry out a gear-up landing on runway 33 at 14:35. Nobody was hurt in the “text-book” emergency landing.

The Boeing 767-300 (registration SP-LPC, named “Poznan”) was originally built for LOT, first flew in May 1997, and is powered by two GE engines – that this time served also well as the main landing gear…

More images on Airliners.net.

by balint01

Explosion At Moscow Domodedovo International Airport

Most probably a suicide bomber has caused an explosion at Moscow’s largest International Airport, Domodedovo. First reports claimed 31 people dead and more than 130 injured, but by the evening this has increased to 35 lost lives and about 170 injured of whom 70 have been hospitalized…

The bomb blew up on the arrival side at 16:32 Moscow time, close to the international baggage claim area, and the police believes it might have been a suicide bomber – but some reports mention a bomb in a bag that exploded too late and may have been targeted for an airliner. Smoke has filled up the airport terminal, all international flights are now rerouted to other Moscow airports and the Russian capital has been put under terror alert state. Russia Today reported that the explosion had the power of 7 kg of TNT and that some eyewitnesses say there were two explosions.

From the preliminary information we have, it was a terror attack,” President Dmitry Medvedev told officials in a televised briefing. Medvedev postponed his planned Tuesday departure for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he was to give the opening address on Wednesday.

Although there have been repeated attacks on the Moscow subway and on Russian trains – most blamed on Chechen militants – the bombing Monday is the first involving a Russian airport since 2004 when two suicide bombers were able to board planes at Domodedovo by buying tickets illegally from airport personnel. The female bombers 7 years ago blew themselves up in mid-air, killing all 90 people aboard the two flights.

Sergei Lavochkin told Rossiya 24 television that he was waiting in the arrivals hall for a friend to arrive from Cuba, when he saw emergency teams carrying bloodied people out of the terminal. “I heard a loud bang, saw plastic panels falling down from the ceiling and heard people screaming. Then people started running away.”

Mark Green, a British Airways passenger who had just arrived at the airport, told BBC television he heard the huge explosion as he left the terminal.  “Literally, it shook you,” he said. “As we were putting the bags in the car a lot of alarms … were going off and people started flowing out of the terminal, some of whom were covered in blood.” “One gentleman had a pair of jeans on that was ripped and his thigh from his groin to his knee was covered in blood,” he added. He also said thousands of people were in the terminal at the time of the blast.

Some reports indicate that airport workers even broke a brick wall close to the baggage carousel so that the people stuck inside after the blast could leave the terminal. On the other hand, those who could get out were reportedly faced with the “news” that the Taxi drivers have rapidly raised their prices to 3-5 folds… But the train service (Aeroexpress) was free for those leaving the airport.

Built in 1964, Domodedovo is located 26 miles (42 kilometers) southeast of the center of Moscow and is the largest of the three major airports that serve the Russian capital, serving over 22 million people last year. It is generally regarded as Moscow’s most up-to-date airport, but its security procedures have been called into question.

Currently 77 airlines offer regular flights to Domodedovo, serving 241 international and national routes, according to the airport’s website.

Security at Moscow’s two other airports – Vnukovo and Sheremetyevo has been strengthened. The airports are operating in terror threat regime which means extended security checks, and most probably longer queues, etc.

by balint01

Afriqiyah Airways Crash In Tripoli, Lybia

An Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A330 has crashed at the Tripoli International Airport while trying to land. There were 104 people on board, the lives of all but one are believed to have been lost.

The Afriqiyah Airways flight 771 arriving from Johannesburg, South Africa, after a 9 hour flight, carrying 93 passengers and 11 crew members was about to land at Tripoli at 10 minutes past 6am this morning. The plane was scheduled to continue its journey to London-Gatwick as flight 8U 912, thus a few British citizens were also aboard with other nationalities including South Africans and Europeans bound for other connecting flights. As confirmed by the Dutch authorities, there were 62 Dutch citizens on this flight! All the crew were from Lybia. Nicky Knapp, a representative of the Airports Company South Africa, provided the breakdown in the destinations of the passengers aboard: seven to London, 32 to Brussels, 42 to Dusseldorf, one to Paris, and 11 to Libya. She was speaking on behalf of Afriqiyah Airways.

First reports suggest the plane has exploded in the air before touching down (“It exploded on landing and totally disintegrated,” a Libyan security official told AFP), but these are not yet confirmed. Some burnt airplane parts are also lying on the ground, together with intact airline seats, which would indicate that we may have some survivors. Ambulances are continuously arriving at the scene. Early reports indicate there is one survivor, an 8 year old Dutch child! He is currently undergoing surgery at a local hospital with some bone injuries.

By the afternoon, 96 bodies have also been recovered from the wreckage… Some of the TV footage show a destroyed car wreckage being moved by rescue workers as well – it is unknown at this stage if there were any casualties on the ground as well.

Officials also recovered the plane’s flight data recorder, which investigators use to piece together a flight’s last minutes.

The plane was one of three Airbus A330-200’s operated by Afriqiyah Airways. Carrying the registration number 5A-ONG (pictured here above), it was handed over to Afriqiyah just 8 months ago, thus was a new a plane. The planes in the fleet carry the logo 9.9.99 – the date when the African Union was formed, and this plane was handed over to the airline exactly ten years later, on 9.9.09. Ended her short life after accumulating about 1,600 flight hours in some 420 flights in a very tragic way.

by balint01

Air Berlin Plane Slides Off Runway At Dortmund

An Air Berlin Boeing 737-800 plane has slid off the runway at snowy Dortmund Airport in Germany after aborting take-off.

The plane with 165 people onboard attempted to take-off on the first Sunday morning of the year 2010, heading to the Canary Islands on January 3rd, but according to the pilot, they detected some technical problems in the cockpit while accelerating. Due to the wintery conditions, the plane was unable to come to a complete stop on the tarmac and slid off the runway. No passengers or crew got hurt, all passengers disembarked the plane safely through the rear-doors of the aircraft using regular stairs, even as it lay nose-down on an embankment. The plane is undamaged.

The Air Berlin spokeswoman said that the pilot had followed procedures correctly during the incident, which is believed to have been caused by a malfunctioning speedometer in the Boeing where the Captain and the co-pilot were being shown different speeds. The airline is now examining if the airport services could have been at fault for the accident, they are investigating, whether the surface was completely de-iced.

A spokesman for Dortmund airport said that following the incident the runway had been closed to allow the recovery of the aircraft, the Air Berlin passengers were flown to Las Palmas from the nearby Paderborn airport, with another aircraft.

The plane is the third Boeing 737-800 to leave the runway in recent weeks. On December 22,  an American Airlines flight from Washington left the runway as it landed in Kingston, Jamaica, in heavy rain. In that case, the fuselage cracked open, the left main landing gear collapsed and the nose was crushed as the plane stopped at the ocean’s edge. There were no deaths, but many passengers needed hospital treatment in that accident. On December 23, a RyanAir Boeing 737-800 with 129 people on board skidded off the runway while taxiing at Glasgow Prestwick airport after hitting a patch of ice.

by balint01


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