Explanations are trying to be made in the wake of Saturday’s tragic crash of Russian airline Kogalymavia’s flight 9268, which went down over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula killing all 224 people on board. An airline executive has cited “external influence” as the cause, stating that the company is ruling out technical or human errors as the likely cause of the crash.
Rosaviatasia, the Russian Federation Air Transport Agency, however, is saying that it is to early to be certain what the exact cause was, and that finding it will require a long and thorough investigation. It is important to note that it appears that no distress signals or any communications were sent to indicate a state of emergency on the plane before it went down. The black boxes containing flight and voice data have been recovered, but have yet to be analysed.
The flight itself was a routine trip from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh resort, a popular vacation spot, to St. Petersburg. It appears that flight 9268 dropped off the radar roughly 23 minutes into the flight. According to experts, this could add to suspicion of “external influence” as a plane disappearing from radar that early into a flight with no distress calls is highly unlikely. The plane should have been close to cruising altitude with auto pilot engaged, a relatively safe endeavour.
Investigators have confirmed that the plane broke apart in the air, with the disintegrated fuselage hitting the ground and scattering wreckage over an area of about 20 square kilometres (8 square miles). The fact that the plane broke apart mid air does help investigators narrow the list or probable causes down marginally, but a full investigation is still required.
Of the 224 people on board, 217 were passengers. Most were of Eastern European descent (with the majority being Russian), and 25 of them were children. None of them, including the 7 crew members aboard, survived the crash. Several planes have landed in Russia Monday morning carrying all recovered remains of the victims.
Speculation has been made as to whether or not Islamic militant group ISIS is behind the disaster. While the group has not claimed responsibility, the area in which the plane went down has been known as a recent battleground between ISIS and the Egyptian military, leading to fierce conflict in the region.
However, the Egyptian military is stating that terrorism claims are unreliable. They cite the fact that the militants appear to only have access to shoulder fired anti-aircraft weaponry, which can only reach vessels at a altitude of about 14 000 feet, a far cry from the planes recorded 30,000 foot altitude at the time of disappearance. In order to shoot down a plane that high, the Egyptian military says, specialized launch pads equipped with radar and a manned crew of engineers would be needed. This is infrastructure that ISIS has never been reported to possess.
As the investigation continues, it is important to note that airline Kogalymavia has yet to specify what “external influence” is defined as, only stating that they do not believe human error or technical issues to be the cause to the tragedy. While it is obvious that some sort of abnormality caused flight 9268 to go down, the world won’t know for sure until the investigation is concluded. Until then, the Russian people and the world mourn over the death of the 224 people of Kogalymavia flight 9268.