What Caused the Crash of Russian Flight #7K9268 in Egypt?

Yesterday, ISIS's Wilayat Sinai (background here) claimed responsibility for the crash of Kogalymavia Airline flight #7K9268 from the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt to St. Petersburg, Russia, in which all 224 persons on board, including 25 children were killed. (The passenger list is here. All but 4 were Russian - 4 were Ukranian, according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Ukraine.)

Russia said ISIS' claim was false and ISIS doesn't have "manpads" that can shoot down a plane at 30,000 feet. )Manpads stands for man-portable air-defense systems. ) Almost everyone is mocking ISIS' claim. But ISIS didn't say it shot the plane down. It just said it was able to bring it down. Earlier reports that the pilot had radioed of technical difficulty and intended to make an emergency landing have now been disputed by officials.

Could there have been a bomb on board? Could it have been on-board sabotage? No one knows right now. [More...]

Some developments from yesterday: The Russian airline operating the Airbus A321 is Kogalymavia. Police have already begun searching their offices in Moscow, seizing computers and documents.

Both black boxes have been recovered. (one is for cockpit voice recordings and one records flight data.)

There's no indication of technical failure from the tracking of the plane.

Minister Hossam Kamal said there had been no sign of any problems on board the flight...."Up until the crash happened, we were never informed of any faults in the plane, nor did we receive any SOS calls," he said. All contact with air traffic control had been normal, and pre-flight checks showed no problems, he added.

The plane went off radar about 23 minutes after takeoff, and fell near Hasana, Egypt.

At 4:12 GMT it was at an altitude of 33,500 feet and and had a speed of 404 knots. At 4:13, when it went off radar, it had dropped 6 thousand feet and the speed decreased to 93 knots. You can watch the replay here. More here.

There were "very big changes" in vertical speed the last 20 seconds. The plane was set to autocruise at 32,000 feet.

The plane crashed at 4:17 GMT according to Airbus's official statement. While it could be a stall, which calls for the pilot to drop the nose to reclaim speed, that's by no means a given.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis was Egypt's most violent militant group. It swore allegiance to al Baghdadi in November, 2014. Since then, Wilayat Sinai has claimed credit for firing rockets into Israel in July, and killing 64 Eqyptian soldiers in a massive attack. In addition to manpads, ISIS has gotten hold of the more powerful Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missiles which Russia sold to Syria and Iraq.

Israel just began using a anti-missile defense system in its airlines to protect against attacks by manpads.

Why did the plane crash? The answer for now, is no one knows.

It could be as simple as the plane stalling after it reached cruising altitude and the pilot started corrective action but was unsuccessful. That happened to this Air Asia flight in January. It was an Airbus 320 from the same family of Airbuses as the Russia plane.

Or, it could have been on-board sabotage by either the pilot or copilot. Maybe one had recently become enamored of ISIS, decided to turn the flight into a murder-suicide mission and disabled the other. Maybe one or two passengers disabled both of them and took the controls.

The absence of a missile attack on the plane or an on-board bomb doesn't rule out ISIS' passive or active participation -- nor does it confirm pilot error or a technical glitch (although inadequate pilot training has been a focus of late.) I'd start with the premise that it's very rare for planes to simply fall out of the sky by themselves, look at other cases where it's happened and wait for information from the black boxes. I'm not sure who's lowest on the credibility scale: ISIS or the Governments of Egypt and Russia.

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  • Display: Sort:
    True this (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by CaptHowdy on Sun Nov 01, 2015 at 10:33:03 AM EST

     I'm not sure who's lowest on the credibility scale: ISIS or the Government.....

    What or who caused the (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by KeysDan on Sun Nov 01, 2015 at 01:50:09 PM EST
    crash of the Russian plane?  I don't know.  But, the fact that ISIS was quick to take credit, whether or not they were responsible, supports the lethal blow-back that Putin et al. can continue to  expect from its involvement in the fratricidal warring in Syria.

     And, if unheeded by Russia, hopefully, that observation and its implications for the US will not go unnoticed.   But, alas, that does not seem to be in the cards.  The change in power dynamics with Russia's new involvement seems to have registered in US military and political circles as a mandate for us to do likewise.

     Boots need to be put on any ground the Russian boots trample. Can't have Russian influence, as if it was not an historical reality.

    Now that we have boots on the ground, our next task is to identify the enemy.  Although, most any enemy will do since they all seem to coalesce depending on the circumstances and time of day.

     The most likely outcome will be for the US to slide down that slippery slope into a civil war. Russia attacking our "rebel allies," US attacking Russian-backed Assad troops, and ISIS riding around in their new white Toyota pickups waiting for the US and Russia to complete their respective tasks.  

    The civil war (none / 0) (#15)
    by lentinel on Tue Nov 03, 2015 at 07:46:07 AM EST
    in Syria is being turned into a pizsing content by the two big powers to see whose is the biggest.

    Boys will be boys.


    ... there was no indication of any SAM being fired at the aircraft, which was apparently near 31,000 feet when it broke apart. That altitude is way above the maximum range for any shoulder-launched missile (MANPAD).

    A Russian TV channel interviewed Natalya Trukhacheva, the wife of co-pilot Sergei Trukachev, who said that her husband had complained to one of their daughters via phone from Sharm El-Sheikh "that the technical condition of the aircraft left much to be desired."

    The Daily Beast also notes that this same aircraft was involved in an accident at Cairo airport back in Nov. 2001, in which it landed with its nose too high, which in turn caused the tail to strike the ground violently. The aircraft incurred substantial damage:

    "Tail strikes like this are not uncommon. The airplane was repaired and would have been rigorously inspected then and during subsequent maintenance checks. Nonetheless investigators who will soon have access to the Airbus's flight data recorder will take a hard look at what is called the rear pressure bulkhead, a critical seal in the cabin's pressurization system. Images from the wreckage in the Sinai show parts of the tail and rear fuselage near the site of this bulkhead lying clear of the rest of the debris, suggesting a possible break-up in flight."

    Nothing can or should be ruled out during these early hours of the investigation, but while you are correct that it's rare for aircraft to simply fall from the sky, I'm also reminded of two serious aircraft structural failures which occurred in Hawaii skies within nine months of one another in 1988, both of which served to call public attention to the issue of aging jetliners.

    While the cockpit crews of both Aloha Airlines Flt. 243 and United Airlines Flt. 811 were able to land safely, the accidents nevertheless cost the lives of nine passengers and one flight attendant, all of whom were sucked out of the aircraft at high altitude through significant breaches in the fuselages.

    We'll undoubtedly learn more about this tragedy in the coming days.


    when a small disaster causing the deaths of hundreds of civilians happens that you did not cause, claim responsibility for it anyway?


    Well, are the "darwin awards" for governments?



    see, the plan is (none / 0) (#3)
    by zaitztheunconvicted on Sun Nov 01, 2015 at 09:25:42 AM EST
    Russian enters the low-level civil war with the apparent intent of covertly degrading the moderate opposition to Bashar . . . so that Bashar can remain in power and be thankful to Russia

    and THEN


    ISIS claims responsibility for killing 200 and some Russian civilians . . .

    and maybe Russia decides that bombing ISIS might be a good idea . . .  Oh, boy.


    Viola???? (5.00 / 6) (#4)
    by oculus on Sun Nov 01, 2015 at 10:00:18 AM EST
    Cello? (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Nov 01, 2015 at 11:59:38 AM EST
    cue the violins (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by Peter G on Sun Nov 01, 2015 at 12:11:40 PM EST
    And, as Miss Emily Litella would ask, what is all this talk about violins in the Middle East, anyway?

    Violins in the Middle East? (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun Nov 01, 2015 at 12:30:01 PM EST
    Your wish in my command, Sahib.

    More like (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Zorba on Sun Nov 01, 2015 at 12:32:30 PM EST
    An oud.  

    please stay on topic (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Nov 01, 2015 at 12:56:53 PM EST
    he obviously meant voila.

    Oh, that's different then. (5.00 / 6) (#11)
    by Peter G on Sun Nov 01, 2015 at 01:12:07 PM EST

    very well played. (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by Mr Natural on Sun Nov 01, 2015 at 03:50:10 PM EST
    Sometimes, a little levity ... (5.00 / 4) (#13)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun Nov 01, 2015 at 03:36:14 PM EST
    ... helps to bring things into proper focus. Perhaps we should all take a deep breath and wait for crash investigators to do their work, rather than lead ourselves toward conclusions which might otherwise prove to be premature.