Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Kogalymavia Flight 9268 n 31 October 2015 at 04:13 UTC (06:13 EST) following departure from Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport, Egypt, en route to Pulkovo Airport, Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Kogalymavia Flight 9268 (7K9268/KGL9268)[a] was an international chartered passenger flight, operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia (branded as Metrojet), which crashed in northern Sinai on 31 October 2015 at 04:13 UTC (06:13 EST) following departure from Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport, Egypt, en route to Pulkovo Airport, Saint Petersburg, Russia.
The aircraft, an Airbus A321-231, was carrying 217 passengers and seven crew members. Of those mostly tourists aboard, the majority were Russian, four were Ukrainian, and one was Belarusian.
With its death toll of 224 people, the crash of Flight 9268 is the deadliest both in the history of Russian aviation[b] and within Egyptian territory.[c] It is also the deadliest air crash involving an aircraft from the Airbus A320 family, and the deadliest plane crash in 2015.
3 Passengers and crew
4.1 Missile or explosion theories
4.2 Tailstrike and maintenance theories
7 See also
10 External links
The aircraft in previous services: first with Middle East Airlines (left) and then during its operation with Onur Air
The aircraft was an 18-year-old Airbus A321-231, serial number 663. It was delivered to Middle East Airlines in May 1997 with the registration as F-OHMP. It later served for Onur Air and Saudi Arabian Airlines as TC-OAE, until October 2011. In April 2012 Kolavia acquired the plane with registration EI-ETJ and transferred it to Kogalymavia in May. The aircraft was powered by two IAE V2533 engines and configured to carry 220 passengers in an economy configuration. At the time of the crash, it was owned by Dublin-based AerCap and leased to Kolavia. The aircraft had accumulated 56,000 flight hours on nearly 21,000 flights.
On 16 November 2001, while operating for Middle East Airlines as F-OHMP, the aircraft suffered a tailstrike landing in Cairo. It was repaired and went back into service with the airline in 2002.
The route of the aircraft. The black dot indicates the starting point of the flight; the red dot indicates the last position at which the aircraft was tracked.
Last data received by Flightradar24.com
Flight 9268 left Sharm el-Sheikh airport at 03:50 UTC (05:50 EST) for Pulkovo Airport in Saint Petersburg, Russia, with 217 passengers and seven crew members on board. The aircraft failed to make contact with Cyprus Air Traffic Control 23 minutes later. Russia's Federal Air Transport Agency confirmed the flight had disappeared from radar tracking. There was initial confusion about whether the plane had come down.
Russian media outlets said that the pilot reported technical problems and requested a landing at the nearest airport before the plane went missing, but Egyptian authorities disputed that claim.   Other sources suggested there were no such requests or distress signals. The Egyptian Civilian Aviation Ministry issued a statement that indicated the flight was at an altitude of 31,000 ft (9,400 m) when it disappeared from radar screens after a steep descent of 5,000 ft (1,500 m) in one minute. Flightradar24 shows the aircraft climbing to 33,500 ft (10,200 m) at 404 kn (748 km/h; 465 mph) before suddenly descending to 28,375 ft (8,649 m) at 62 kn (115 km/h; 71 mph) approximately 50 km (31 mi) north east of Nekhel, after which its position was no longer tracked. All 224 passengers and crew died. It had disappeared in a mountainous area in central Sinai with poor weather conditions making it difficult for rescue crews to get to the scene.
Reuters quoted an unnamed security officer as saying that the aircraft had been completely destroyed. Wreckage was scattered over a wide area (some 20 square kilometres (8 sq mi)), with the forward section found about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from the tail, indicating that the aircraft had broken up during flight. Aerial images of the wreckage broadcast on RT indicated that the wings were intact until impact. The debris pattern, combined with an initial interpretation of the aircraft's abrupt changes in altitude and airspeed, reinforced the presumption that the aircraft's tail separated during flight and fell separately.
Shortly after the aircraft's disappearance, Eurocontrol's Air Flow Traffic Management (NMOC) issued a notice to all operators along the route that because of technical problems all flights would be tactically re-routed. The notice was redacted shortly thereafter.
Unnamed Egyptian authorities indicated that the first parts of the wreckage had been located. Fifty ambulances were sent to the crash site near Housna, 300 kilometres (190 mi) from Sharm el-Sheikh. Unnamed Egyptian officials reported that the aircraft "split in two" and most bodies were found strapped to their seats. Initial reports indicated that voices of trapped passengers could be heard in a section of the crashed aircraft. At least 100 bodies were initially found, including at least five children.
Passengers and crew
People on board by nationality
Flight 9268 was carrying 217 passengers, including 25 children, and 7 crew members. Most of the passengers were Russian, according to the Russian embassy, and a majority were female. There were also 4 Ukrainians and 1 Belarusian on board. Most of the passengers were tourists returning from Red Sea resorts. The Association of Tour Operators of Russia released the passenger manifest of all those thought to have been on the flight.
According to Kogalymavia, the flight's captain had over 12,000 hours of flight time, including 3,800 hours on this aircraft type.
Ayman al-Muqaddam was appointed to investigate the cause of the crash. In a statement, he indicated that the pilot had made contact with the civil aviation authorities and asked to land at the nearest airport. He suggested the aircraft may have been attempting an emergency landing at Al-Arish airport in north Sinai. It crashed 35 kilometres (22 mi) south of the coastal city. Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamel said that air traffic control recordings did not show any distress calls. According to CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest, it was "unusual" for an aircraft to go down after around 20 minutes in flight. President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said that a probe of the crash would take months.
The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations sent three of its aircraft to the crash site. The Investigative Committee also started a legal case against Kogalymavia under legislation regulating "violation of rules of flights and preparations." Kogalymavia's employees were also questioned, along with those of the Brisco tour agency that had chartered the flight. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry promised to work closely with Russian officials and investigators to find the cause of the accident. The aircraft had successfully undergone technical checks before taking-off. Investigators would also view the security camera footage. Soon after the crash, the Russian Investigative Committee announced that it would be conducting tests on fuel samples taken from the aircraft at its last fuel uplift in the Russian city of Samara.
The aviation accident investigation agencies BEA (France), BFU (Germany), and AAIU (Ireland) will also participate in the investigation as representatives for the state of the aircraft's design, manufacture, and registration respectively. The BEA will send two investigators, accompanied by six representatives from Airbus, to Egypt on 1 November. According to the BEA, they will join two investigators from the BFU and four investigators from the Interstate Aviation Committee, their Russian counterpart, representing the state of the aircraft's operator.
Both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder were recovered from the crash site on 1 November. Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov and a team of specialist investigators arrived in Cairo to assist the Egyptian investigators in determining the cause of the crash. Later that day, Russia's regional transport prosecutors determined that the quality of fuel on the aircraft met required standards. The flight data recorders were reported to be in good condition.
As of 1 November, Egyptian search and rescue team had found 163 bodies. As the search area widened, the Egyptian team found the body of a child about 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from the wreckage, indicating that the plane broke up in mid-flight. Russian investigator, Viktor Sorochenko, confirmed that the plane broke up in mid-flight.
Missile or explosion theories
According to an official quoted by Reuters, Flight 9268's tail section separated from the main body of the plane and was burning, which could indicate an explosion. On 2 November, Metrojet spokesman Alexander Smirnov ruled out technical fault and pilot error as the cause of the crash and blamed an "external force". He insisted that the aircraft was 100% airworthy and that its crew was "very experienced". He also showed the certificates the airline had received in 2014. He later added that the tailstrike incident in Cairo had been fully repaired, and the plane's engines had been inspected on 26 October, five days before the crash.
Shortly after the crash, Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the incident, which occurred over an area of fighting between government forces and an IS affiliate, Sinai Province. Islamic State claimed this was in revenge for Russian air strikes against militants in Syria, where IS controls territories, along with contiguous Iraqi territories. IS' affiliate, Sinai Province, was said not to have access to surface-to-air missiles capable of hitting an aircraft at high altitude since MANPADS can rarely reach even half the cruising altitude of an airliner, but analysts could not exclude the possibility of a bomb on board the flight.
Egyptian Army spokesman Mohamed Samir rebutted the claims and pointed out that the investigation was ongoing. Similarly, Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov summarily dismissed the claims as "fabrications" due to a lack of evidence from Egyptian civil aviation and security officials and air traffic data. James Clapper, United States Director of National Intelligence, said on 2 November that there was no evidence of terrorist involvement. On the same day, a source on the committee analysing the flight recorders said he believed that the plane was not struck from the outside and that the pilot did not make a distress signal before it disappeared from radar. He based his comments on the preliminary investigation of both flight recorders.
Tailstrike and maintenance theories
Although airline officials have announced that they have ruled out mechanical failure, investigators have still not made such a determination. Natalya Trukhacheva, the ex-wife of co-pilot Sergei Trukachev, said in an interview with NTV that her ex-husband had complained to their daughter about the aircraft's technical state as leaving "much to be desired."
The aircraft involved in the crash had suffered a tailstrike while landing in Cairo, Egypt in 2001. Some have drawn comparisons to Japan Airlines Flight 123, which crashed seven years after the plane suffered a tailstrike on landing. Like Flight 9268, Flight 123 also suffered catastrophic damage in mid-air while climbing to its cruising altitude. The crash of Flight 123 was attributed to an incorrect repair of the aircraft's tail section following the tailstrike, which left the rear pressure bulkhead of the plane vulnerable to metal fatigue and ultimately resulted in an explosive decompression. Reports on the wreckage of Flight 9268 have suggested that a "clear break" occurred near the plane's rear pressure bulkhead, possibly indicating failure of the bulkhead.
On November 1, 2015, Russia grounded Airbus A321 jets flown by Kogalymavia. Russian news agency Interfax said the Russian transport regulator, Rostransnadzor, had told Kogalymavia to stop flying its A321 aircraft until the causes of the crash were known. These reports were contradicted by Kogalymavia representative as saying that the airline had not received the order from Rostransnadzor.
Emirates, Lufthansa and Air France–KLM announced they would avoid overflying the Sinai peninsula until the cause of the accident has been determined. The United States' Federal Aviation Administration had previously told carriers under its jurisdiction to operate above FL260 while flying over Sinai. Germany's Luftfahrt-Bundesamt had told its airlines the same thing. Air Arabia, flyDubai and British Airways also stopped their flights over the Sinai Peninsula in response to the crash. The latter later stated that they planned to continue flights over Sinai, although the intended alternative route was not announced. EasyJet stated that they would not halt their flights over to and from Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada and that passengers who opt not to take the risk over the route would be re-booked on another flight or given a flight voucher, but will actively review them.
Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said that the Russian Embassy was following the events. President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and ordered an official investigation. Putin also declared 1 November a national day of mourning in Russia. Israel, which borders the Sinai peninsula, offered its assistance to Russia and Egypt with surveillance and search efforts.
Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail cancelled his meetings upon hearing news of the crash. He was on his way to the crash site along with other ministers on a private jet, according to the Tourism Ministry.
Airbus posted a note on Twitter that announced it was "aware of the media reports" and that it would issue more "information as soon as available." They also released a statement on their website confirming the aircraft's MSN and engine configuration.
On 1 November Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader and chairman of the Russian right-wing opposition party "LDPR", called for the total governmental control of the Russian aviation industry, alongside a ban on air chartering.