Sinai crash update

The wreckage field for the Metrojet A321 crash in Sinai is wider than originally reported – about 5km across at present, and in time maybe even more wreckage will be found.

If this report is accurate, it indicates an in-flight break-up of the aircraft, but the cause cannot be determined with certainty at this point.

Causes of in-flight break-up could be related to a missile strike or a bomb on board, but there is no proper evidence for those right now. There has been an “Islamic State”  claim of responsibility, but it has not been backed up with any evidence either.

Speculation in the media has begun about a possible fuselage failure caused by damage to the fuselage that was – allegedly – not properly repaired by the airline, causing an explosive decompression and in-flight structural failure. The kind of damage suggested in this speculation is a tailstrike on the runway during landing or take-off. But this is guesswork. It is not based on evidence.

Modern engineering makes aircraft extremely strong, so total in-flight break-up without extreme stress being applied to the structure is impossible. Thousands of Airbus aircraft in this series have been flying since 1988 and no such event has occurred.

7 thoughts on “Sinai crash update

  1. The crash. Would you be available to speak tonight? If so, what number is best to reach you on? Thank you. Andrea rothman, Bloomberg news

    Andrea Rothman, aerospace, aviation reporter (33) 5 6365 7668 (33) 6 0724 8146 (cell)–if urgent sent TXT on cell! (33) 1 5365 5062 (when in Paris)

    Paris office genl number: (33) 1 5365 5050 At: Nov 1 2015 18:47:04″ data-digest=”From: At: Nov 1 2015 18:47:04″ style=””>


    • Sorry Andrea. Off duty now because of 04:00 rise for Today Programme tomorrow. Incidentally, Russian investigators on the site now say the wreckage area is widening even further.


      • Hello David. You mentioned on Irish radio today that the speed shown on Flightradar24 falls to a very low figure. Is this not the speed over the ground as derived from the GPS distance travelled over time as distinct from the airspeed. In another words the aircraft could have gone vertically up or down at high airspeed while the ground speed would appear very low ?
        Kind regards
        Ray Walsh


      • Ray, you’re absolutely right. It could indeed have been as you said – a move from a horizontal into a vertical flight trajectory, but i suspect it may have been a bit of both. A sudden climb would reduce the groundspeed and the airspeed at the same time.


  2. The report of sharp, up and down movement reminds me of the “porpoising” effect that was reported to have occurred after the uncontained engine failure on UA232. Does this suggest to you that the Metrojet A321 lost its vertical stabilizers – i.e., that the tail section parted, for whatever reason – prior to the crash?


  3. Hi David,

    It is a strange set of circumstances for this crash. It is very close to takeoff but at cruising altitude so it is unlikely to be mechanical failure. If it was a bomb, then detonation is very close to takeoff- if it was a timer bomb then the likelihood is it would be later in the flight(unless there was a delay like Lockerbie). The concern I guess would be a suicide bomber or lax security at Sharm el Sheik. I think the flight was early in the morning so I am not sure if a missile is likely (presumably it was still dark at this time)?




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