Speculation Running Rampant Surrounding Metrojet Crash
As officials continue to comb through the wreckage of Metrojet Flight 7K9268, which crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula Saturday, investigators are attempting to discover why the aircraft broke up at high altitude.
In a report from Alastair Jamieson of NBCNews.com, the Airbus A321-200 aircraft was flying at an altitude of 31,000 feet from Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to St. Petersburg, Russia, when the plane suddenly broke apart for an unknown reason, spreading wreckage over an area measuring six square miles.
While the head of Russia's federal aviation agency Alexander Neradko would not speculate about the cause of the crash due to the ongoing investigation, he did reveal that the large debris field suggests the plane disintegrated mid-flight.
There are already several theories being tossed around early in the investigation about what caused the breakup. One possibility is that the aircraft suffered from a mechanical or structural failure.
The Metrojet plane was 18 years old, and investigators are looking into an accident the aircraft suffered in 2001. According to reports, the plane suffered serious damage when its tail struck the runway during a landing, but the plane was repaired and had been in service ever since.
Unfortunately, there is a history of similar incidents. Repairs made to the same section of the Flight 7K9268 have also caused at least two other midair breakups, including the world's second-deadliest plane crash in Japan in 1985.
Another theory is that the plane exploded at altitude due to a bomb being smuggled onto the aircraft and then detonated midair. Investigators have discovered the flight data recorders from Metrojet Flight 7K9268, and the results of testing on the recorders should be able to determine whether an explosion or a mechanical failure caused the plane to disintegrate.
In the same vein, investigators will also be looking to see if the fuel system or maintenance issues could have resulted in an explosion.
The most far-fetched possibility gaining mainstream attention is that a local ISIS affiliate brought down the aircraft in a terrorist attack. Russian officials and experts are dismissing this possibility due to the fact that ISIS militants lack the weapons necessary to shoot down a plane at Flight 7K9268’s altitude.
NBC News aviation expert John Cox commented on the possibility of an air strike from ISIS, saying, “I think the claims by ISIS are a propaganda grab. They don't have the weaponry necessary to reach an airplane at 31,000 feet. They can only go to ten, maybe, 12,000 feet and this airplane was very much higher than that. I don't put any real credibility in the claim by ISIS at this point.”
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