Metrojet crash update
On 31 October 2015, a Metrojet Airbus A321 operating flight 7K-9268 from Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt to St. Petersburg, Russia disappeared from radar over the Sinai Peninsula with 217 passengers and 7 crew on board. Shortly after first word had been received of its disappearance, Egyptian authorities confirmed that the flight had gone down, killing all those on board. It was an air disaster that combined with the subsequent crash of Egypt Air MS-804 dealt a devastating blow to Egypt’s tourism industry.
In the immediate aftermath of the accident Egyptian Authorities claimed that there was no evidence of foul play, and that a full investigation was underway to determine the cause of the accident.
Just over a week following the accident, Egypt’s Accident Investigation Commission (EAAIC) released a statement pertaining to the investigation, detailing the spread of the debris field and stating that both the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR) had been recovered and data downloaded. It was then that the EAAIC stated that a loud noise was heard towards the end of the recording before it stopped. This particular piece of information bears a stark resemblance to the shoot-down of MH-17, where Dutch investigators also heard a loud noise towards the end of the CVR recording, which was later identified as coming from an explosion caused by a Buk surface-to-air missile that was fired at the aircraft. Though the noise reported by the EAAIC could not in of itself prove that a bomb or missile brought the aircraft down, it would be hard to dispel the possibility of such an event.
In addition to the noise heard on the CVR, British and US Intelligence Authorities suggested in the immediate aftermath of the crash that the aircraft was brought down by a bomb. In response to such claims the EAAIC stated that any authority claiming facts about the accident should present their evidence to Egyptian authorities.
On 17 November the website of the Russian President published details of a meeting held on 16 November during which Russia’s Director of Federal Security stated that after examination of the remains of those on board, traces of foreign-made explosives were found. He continued saying that an explosive device equivalent to up to 1KG of TNT was set off on board the aircraft, although it remains unclear as to how the Russian Authorities came to such a conclusion with the evidence at hand.
Since then not much else has come to light about the accident, however on 30 August 2016, the EAAIC reported that a delegation from Russia had arrived in Egypt to meet with counterparts from Egypt, Germany, Ireland, France and the United States to discuss the investigation at a secure location at Cairo Airport, where all the wreckage of the aircraft is located. The focal point of the meeting is said to be about at which point the fuselage of the aircraft started to disintegrate in the air.
The results from this meeting have as yet not been made public, but it will be interesting to hear the Russian stance on the accident versus the Egyptian and rest of world opinion. One could once again draw parallels to the investigation of MH-17, where Russia still maintains a strongly contrasting view of events despite the evidence provided by the Dutch Safety Board that led to the final conclusion of the cause of the event.