MOSCOW – Saturday’s reports on the tragic event of the MetroJet Flight 9268 left many Russians mourning, especially for the 25 children victims, yet experts are expected to announce the cause of the accident.
The aircraft was flying from Egypt to St. Petersburg with 224 passengers when it crashed in the Sinai Peninsula, where a mountainous region called Hasana lays. This area is known to governments worldwide as a military zone not open to the public, with many jihadist insurgent groups.
The flight of the Airbus A321-200 took off from Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, before 6am. However, less than half an hour later, the aircraft started to descend 6,000 ft per minute, and soon disappeared from the radar screens.
Speculation rules the theories
The first reports from Egyptian news stated that the pilot communicated the technical difficulties and desired to make an emergency landing. However, the country’s transportation minister, Mr. Hossam Kamal has denied any abnormal happenings, “All was normal; the plane disappeared suddenly off the radar without any prior warning,” he said in a nationally televised report.
However, many experts from the international community have developed their own theories, such as an attack from ISIL, an on-board bomb, and genuine mechanical failure.
From the United States, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence believes that there is still no evidence of terrorist involvement, yet he doesn’t rule out the possibility. Nonetheless, Alexander Smirnov, deputy director of MetroJet Airlines, says that the only possible explanation is an external impact on the airplane.
Others, outside government officials such as Wilayat Sinai, a partner of the IS extremist group, claims they overthrew the craft using a missile as retaliation for Russian airstrikes in Syria.
Regardless, Paul Beaver, a British military analyst, thinks the crash wasn’t due to ISIL action, claiming that they probably don’t possess a double-digit surface-to-air missile (SAM) that could reach 31,000 ft in the air. “That’s a very serious piece of equipment, and I don’t think they have that sophistication,” he told The Associated Press.
Beaver believes, however, that the accident was caused by a bomb on board, a statement which Michael Clarke of the Royal United Services Institute agrees with. Clarke says that the current reports suggest an on-board catastrophe, and not a mechanical failure. However, he told the BBC that if he had to guess at this point, “It’s much more likely to have been a bomb on board rather than a missile fired from the ground.”
Although it is the public’s common opinion, Russian government officials are hesitant to claim that the aircraft was in bad shape after 18 years of service, therefore causing the plane to crash due to mechanical failures. Co-pilot’s Sergei Trukachev wife, Natalya Trukhacheva, admitted to the Russian controlled NTV that her husband believed the aircraft’s technical conditions needed to improve.
Because of on-going investigations, Todd Curtis, an ex-safety engineer who worked with Boeing stated that experts will look into more unusual events, such as corrosion that might have caused an on-board fire.