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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

Sólyom Hungarian Airways Preparing For Launch

Solyom Hungarian Airways LogoWith the bankruptcy of oneworld member Malév Hungarian Airlines on 03 February, 2012, Hungary was left without a national air carrier. About 18 months later, this (temporary) status seems to come to an end with the rise of a new Hungarian air carrier: SÓLYOM Hungarian Airways.

In 2012, the market reacted quickly to fill the missing capacity left behind by the collapse of Malév, with Ryanair moving into the Hungarian market within days, Wizzair placing more aircraft to Budapest, and other carriers raising capacity and/or frequency soon after. The classical European airlines raised prices as they practically inherited a monopoly between their respective hubs and Budapest, especially among the business travelers. All long-haul operations from Budapest have also been suspended soon after Malév stopped flying. There were brave and not so brave initiatives among ex-Malév colleagues and outsiders to start a new airline in the last year or so, but they all proved to be a speculation or more of an “idea” by enthusiastic amateurs.

Then in early July 2013, one of the Hungarian newspapers reported that a new Airline is being formed, under the name of Sólyom. Many Hungarians rushed to comment about the name being hard to pronounce for foreigners, the fleet plans being too optimistic over the coming years, the business model being outdated and such, but interest was definitely raised among aviation enthusiasts in the country.

Artist's rendering of Sólyom Hungarian Airways B737-500 livery - from radarfigyelo.hu

Then week in and out, more and more pieces of the puzzle “leaked” into the domestic media, which now seem to (more or less) come together. A few weeks later, the new CEO (Mr. József Vágó) also changed his approach towards the media and replaced his “no, I can’t answer this as it is still under negotiation” approach to revealing more and more details of his plans. The airline also held their first public news conference a week ago. So what we know so far:

  • FLEET:
    • overall plan is to have 50 aircraft by 2017 (6 in 2013, 25 by 2014, 50 by 2017): 10 wide-body, 20 mid-size and 20 regional
    • Starting with 6 aircraft leased from European Aviation Group, to be handed over between 18th of August and the end of September this year
    • First 6 aircraft: Boeing 737-500 with CFM56-3C-1 engines, with 110 seats in two cabin classes: 12 in business, 98 in economy
    • First regional aircraft to be taken over in September 2013 as well: Avro RJ 85
  • FLYING: International ICAO code has been awarded: “HUN” (Hotel-Uniform-November), full length call sign: “Hungarian”
  • NETWORK:
    • First routes from Budapest: Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, London, Milan, Paris and Stockholm. No airports were mentioned (yet). Plan is to have these operating by the end of September, but needs further confirmation.
    • Long-haul to start in the summer schedule of 2014 – with “North-American” destinations. New York is likely, but nothing is confirmed yet.
    • Booking any of the flights is not yet open at this stage.
  • BUSINESS:
    • The parent company in the Sólyom Airways Holding is owned by three Hungarian citizens (fact). Multiple fully owned subsidiary companies have been founded to deal with different areas of the operations.
    • Money is coming from Middle-East investors, from Oman and the Emirates (as confirmed by the owners). Lot of speculation is flying around about the (potential) identity of these secret investors, we would not like to comment on that as nothing has been confirmed.
  • BUSINESS MODEL:
    • classical, full service airline – they claim they will have a higher on-board service standard than most of the European airlines. NOT low-cost.
    • Point-to-point as well as transfer passengers. Revitalizing Budapest Liszt Ferenc Airport as a Hub.
  • WEBSITE: http://solyomairways.com for the Airlines and http://solyomair.com for the Holding (launched today, both only in Hungarian)
  • RECRUITING: Hiring started today (01AUG) by launching the above website and posting the first 35 positions where the company is hiring (only a few job descriptions available in English at the last page of the list)  – You can imagine all the buzz among ex-Malev colleagues right now…

We are waiting for more details to be unveiled over the coming days/weeks/months, and are giving up our initial skepticism as well by writing this first post about Sólyom on this blog. We are wishing good luck and success for the new Hungarian Airways, and hope to have more and more international passengers learning how to pronounce “Sólyom” in the near future! After our first flight (hopefully sooner rather than later) we will make sure to post a Flight Review here!

by balint01

First Flight of the Airbus A350

The brand new Airbus A350 aircraft has taken to the skies for the first time ever on June 14, 2013 (earlier today). A very much awaited moment for the aviation world – and the 33 customers who have firm orders for the type – has happened, and the plane worked flawlessly. The first flying fuselage is an A350-900 version (the medium size of the type).

Airbus A350 XWB First flight (Live from Airbus.com)

The Extra Wide Body (XWB) plane took off (see video) from Tolouse-Blagnac airport at 10:00 am local time. The first flight is a very important milestone in the life of a new aircraft type, that has been preceded by the manufacturing of different parts, transporting them to Toulouse, building the actual airplane, installing the wires, connecting the engines, running ground tests, engine power up (happened on June 2nd) and also taxi tests, when the plane rolled-up and down the runway by its own power. The fuel efficient Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines on MSN1 are also new, and this flight marks the first flight of those engines as well. The A350 is planned to be more fuel efficient and have operation costs up to 8% lower than the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Airbus A350 XWB First flight (Live from Airbus.com)

Nearly two hours into the flight, above the Northern part of the Pyrenees  Mountains Peter Chandler has confirmed over radio in the Airbus.com live coverage that “All is going pretty well, the weather is beautiful up here and the plane behaves wonderful. We are climbing up higher to do some higher speed tests“. The first flight took nearly 4 hours altogether and ended with a smooth landing (see video).

Airbus A350 XWB First flight Path (from flightradar24.com)

The flight path on flightradar24.com

The A350 XWB is the all-new mid-size long range product line comprising three versions and seating between 270 and 350 passengers in typical three-class layouts. The new family will bring a step change in efficiency compared with existing aircraft in this size category, using 25 per cent less fuel and providing an equivalent reduction in CO2 emissions. Scheduled for entry-into-service in second half of 2014, the A350 XWB has already won 613 firm orders from 33 customers worldwide as mentioned above.

A350 XWB First flight crew - by Airbus

The A350 is the first Airbus with both fuselage and wing structures made primarily of carbon fibre-reinfoced polymer. The launch customer is Qatar Airways (who is soon to take its first Airbus A380 as well) with 80 pieces of the plane on firm order.

Besides this first test aircraft, two more of the type are soon to join the test fleet as they are already on the final assembly line. The third fuselage will be the first one to feature a full internal cabin as well, the other two are equipped with in-flight test lab computers on most of their deck and water tanks for heavy flight tests.

by balint01

New Livery for American Airlines

American Airlines is undergoing changes. Not only due to Chapter 11 procedures and a possible (more and more likely) merger with US Airways, but also due to technical reasons. Like the new livery – which is driven by all of these three.

American Airlines New Livery Boeing 777 - courtesy of AA

American Airlines has been using the same logo and aircraft livery for more than 40 years. Quite a nice lifecycle for a brand, especially in our fast-paced, marketing driven world of the late 20th and early 21st century. But AA is going through so many changes, that it was about time. Even if the board may have had questions about it – the undebatable technical reasons made it a must.

AA has had the very well known, very well received and very well accepted, famous, landmark aircraft livery with the polished, silver aircraft bodies reflecting the sun so beautifully – having only the red and blue stripes across the planes on the sides below the windows. This now simply HAD to be changed, as it could no longer be maintained with the upcoming new aircraft types (mainly the 777-300ER in the short term), that have a (partial) composite frame: plastic can not be polished the same way as metal (it can’t be polished, period), thus it must be painted. (Even the old livery planes had composite parts which are very well visible on this image below on the left side, for example the hold door or the nose – they were painted in simple grey until now and made such planes look somewhat like they were pieced together from left-over aircraft parts with different paint on them…)

Boeing 737-800 American Airlines Old and New livery - images from airliners.net - by David Field and Christian Eggers

Direct links on airliners.net to the above images:
Old livery / New livery

AA took a step forward, and once it had to change the basic color of the fuselage of its planes, it introduced a new logo and an updated, more fresh look – which was the right movement in my opinion. I think personally that the new design is fresh indeed with its dark grey “American” word on the forward part of the plane together with the updated, stylistic Eagle logo and with the new tail design that looks like a flag. But most of all, I think the fact that they still use the silver as the main color of the planes, keeps the heritage alive as well – as much as technically possible. Their planes will now be painted in silver-mica paint.

The American Eagle aircraft will also receive the new livery, the first outfitted airplane slated to begin flying in February. Here is a rendering of an Embraer E175 (ordered for Republic Airways Holding):

American Eagle New Livery Embraer E-175 - courtesy of AA

by balint01

First Boeing 787 for Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines is the first non-Japanese carrier to receive the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and demonstrate its forward looking strategy – even as an African airline. As the third overall operator of the new Dreamliner aircraft type (and the second Star Alliance member), Ethiopian flew the plane from the delivery ceremony from Boeing’s Everett facility to Washington Dulles airport at the US capital – even before flying it home to Africa two days later on 17 August.

The first destination is very well understandable in the light of the news that the Addis Ababa – Washington route will be the airlines’ first route served by the 787 – starting mid-September when they receive the second of the type. According to plans, Ethiopian will take 4 more before the end of 2012. The first one is the 49th aircraft in its fleet, and the Plane was dubbed as “Africa First”. Ethiopian has 10 of the type on order. The carrier also announced that its next desired route will be connecting Addis Ababa to Guangzhou, China, but it’s not yet decided when that service will get the Boeing 787. By the way, one day after the delivery flight from the US, the plane made its maiden flight in Africa with a Dream Tour to Mount Kilimanjaro with VIP passengers on board. The Dream Tour was a start of rotating Africa destinations, and some scheduled flights into Europe (Rome, London, Frankfurt) and India (Mumbai).

The plane in Ethiopian livery features 24 business class seats (called “Cloud Nine”) and 245 seats in Economy. Besides all the seats, this Dreamliner will bring the same customer benefits as the ones already in operation: lower noise levels, higher humidity, the largest windows on a passenger plane, bigger overhead bins and a unique lighting system – the Sky Interior that can be adjusted to the environment and time of the day.

In remarks at the delivery ceremony, Ethiopian CEO Tewolde Gebremariam noted the 787’s delivery was “overdue by four years” due to multiple program delays. But he said it was “worth waiting” for an aircraft that will launch a “new era” for ET and African aviation. “This shows you how much Ethiopia as a country, and Africa as a continent, is changing,” he said.

Tewolde also said that Ethiopian plans to grow its aircraft fleet to more than 120 units (passenger and cargo fleet combined) and its workforce (now numbering around 7,000) to 17,000 by 2025 and aims to become the leading airline on the African continent and eventually compete against any of the world’s top carriers for passengers and cargo. This would equal to generating $10 billion in annual revenue by 2025 (ET reported revenue of $1.5 billion in 2011). According to the CEO talking to ATW, Addis Ababa is located right in the middle of the line between the world’s most emerging markets – notably between Russia, India, China and Brazil – and would strategically be located to connect these areas both in terms of passengers as well as cargo. The Boeing 787 can reach all of these countries within a 10 hour radius with nonstop flights.

We will keep an eye on Ethiopian and see how this aggressive, optimistic strategy will become a reality. A very important step has just been made by adding the Boeing 787 to the fleet – as the third airline to ever operate the type after All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines.

by balint01

First Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental for Lufthansa

Lufthansa has conducted the first scheduled flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Washington, DC, USA with the brand new Boeing 747-8Intercontinental, which is the latest, and most advanced version of the classic Boeing 747. Lufthansa is the launch customer of the type.

The plane was delivered to Lufthansa (LH) on May 1 (about 2 years later than originally planned)  and has been used for training for a month at its home base in Frankfurt, before her maiden revenue flight on June 1, 2012. Flight LH416 — the first Boeing 747-8I passenger service — passed through the traditional water salute at Frankfurt in the morning and landed at 12:45 local time, 10 min. ahead of schedule. Flying time was 7 hr. 57 min.

The (so far) longest version of the classic Boeing 747 JumboJet has 362 seats in three cabins: 8 seats in First-class, 92 seats in Business-class and 262 in Economy. With this size, it fills the gap between the Airbus A340-600’s and the A380. Even the size (and most of the plane) was designed by Boeing, based on requirements by Lufthansa, making the German carrier a real launch customer of the new -8Intercontinental. Actually Lufthansa was the one originally raising the idea of this type to Boeing, who agreed to make the plane a bit longer, and implement many of the new technologies developed for the 787 Dreamliner program – including state-of-the-art wings with much improved aerodynamics and raked wingtips, some composite materials, fly-by-wire technology and next generation engines.

The fourth-generation 747 is powered by GE Aviation’s GEnx-2B engines, which will bring double-digit improvements in fuel burn and emissions over its predecessor, the 747-400, while generating 30% less noise (should be noticeable even on board). It should burn 10-15% less fuel than the last 747 version, the -400, which puts it right next to the Airbus A380 in terms of seat-mile-cost. This first plane is within the limits but has not yet reached planned targets in terms of performance requirements, said Deutsch Lufthansa AG Executive Board member Carsten Spohr, as quoted by ATW News. “This first new aircraft (of a new type) is never the best one,” Spohr told ATW. He said the weight of the aircraft is too high, resulting in more fuel burn. Also, he said, the General Electric GEnx-2B engines have to improve. Lufthansa hopes these issues will be resolved by the delivery of the tenth/eleventh plane of the type next year.

It is such an honor to join Lufthansa in welcoming the 747-8 Intercontinental into service,” said Elizabeth Lund, Boeing vice president and general manager, 747 Program. “Lufthansa has provided great inspiration and leadership in helping us design a new Queen of the Skies for the 21st Century, an airplane that Lufthansa will love for its efficiency and reliability, airport neighbors will love for its quiet operations and low emissions, and passengers will love for its beautiful new interior and extra space.

The German flag-carrier has 20 747-8Is on order plus 20 options as part of its biggest-ever fleet modernization program. The aircraft will be delivered at a rate of five aircraft per year through mid-2015. After the Washington route, other destination cities to follow include Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles, New Delhi and Bangalore.

Korean Air and Air China are the next customers to receive their first 747-8I type airplanes next year, while Lufthansa will take delivery of four more aircraft this year (the second one within a month).

________________

More about the 747-8I overview, details, development process and the new aircraft in general is available in the Lufthansa Magazine Special Issue on the web or for your iPad in iTunes (highly recommended!) (free app, with a selection of free issues of the Lufthansa Magazine, You should look to download the special Boeing 747-8 edition)

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


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