I should think that visibility was not zero. However cloud cover on such tropical mountains is very dynamic, clouds can form and shift places literally in seconds. I can easily envision that they were visually aiming for a low pass over the ridge, which became overcast in the last seconds of the flight.
It seems like another lesson learnt the hard way...
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Can we rely on the sighting of two fuselage parts?
At a first glance, it looks like an impact into the vertical face, but there are two conflicting pieces of information:
One is the said sighting of bits of fuselage, and the other is the GooEarth pic showing an initial impact site. Could it be the main picture is of an impact at an extreme attitude . . . the bulk of the aircraft then sliding down with parts still in tact?
There's not going to be much need for an extensive investigation, by the look of those pics. Mark another one down to "cumulus graniteis". It appears maybe another 200' in elevation and they'd have cleared the ridge - with perhaps just a "brown corduroy trousers" moment. That country looks very unforgiving, it looks just like a lot of PNG. Not the best way to go about filling an order book. My sympathies to friends and relatives of the deceased.
As someone has commented, the impact point can be seen quite readily - slight bank to the right, it appears. Perhaps the beginning of an avoidance manoeuvre or just coincidental?
The question concerning the TAWS was raised earlier, and now will be among the first questions asked regarding system operation, performance and crew response. Whether the sharp turn to the left, shown on a map earlier in the thread, actually occurred is something to find out. If it occurred, why? Finding out the visibility is another obvious question.
Finding the recorders is certainly critical. Hoping they're readable is another matter.
It makes Sergey Dolya's fine series of photographs of the crew, passengers, the airplane now very poignant.
Having done a short internship with the NTSB many many moons ago and been to many CFIT accidents, it never ceases to amaze me how many occur within less than 100' of passing over the obstacle...
Erm... I guess most CFIT incidents occur when a situation of 'only just avoiding impact' sneaks across into 'only just not avoiding impact'! Historically this has often boiled down to 'can't see the ground, but a few feet lower and maybe...'
How much faith in those investigative agencies do you have?
Question is, how familiar are you with these agencies to make such a statement?
Of all air safety investigative agencies, Russian MAK is one of the most thorough and professional, but sadly they won't be leading this one, as their jurisdiction is only within "air transport", not flying conducted by manufacturers for testing or marketing.
Last edited by maxho; 10th May 2012 at 07:09.
Honestly, I really doubt we will ever have a credible investigation on this one.
Frankly this already looks like CFIT whilst likely flying outside commercial flight safety procedures. Given that this is a major new-model aircraft (huge investment, big sales push) the obvious conclusion looks like the one least prejudicial to the vested interests. Thus they would be idiots not to make a big show of this being an impartial and transparent investigation. It carries a small risk of evidence leading in an unexpected direction, but less risk (given appearances so far) than if they seem to be hiding something. That could kill the whole project.
Indonesian rescuers Thursday spotted the wreckage of a missing Russian Sukhoi Superjet that disappeared in mountainous terrain during a demonstration flight with about 50 people aboard.
“The Sukhoi has been found just now,” said Ketut Parwa, search and rescue agency chief for Jakarta, who was coordinating operations. “There is debris spotted by the helicopter, [we have] confirmed it is from the Sukhoi,” he said.
National search and rescue chief Daryatmo said the helicopter’s pilot had spotted wreckage including the Sukhoi logo on the ground.
“We spotted the fragments at the coordinates where we lost contact with the plane,” he told a news conference.
Ali Umri Lubis, spokesman for the search helicopter’s military airbase, said the plane was spotted in the Cijeruk area, near the dormant volcano Mount Salak, close to the city of Bogor in West Java.
Cijeruk is in a mountainous area 2,000 meters above sea level, 80 kilometers southeast of Jakarta. Indonesian officials have said the Sukhoi descended to about 6,000 feet shortly before it vanished.
Juanda, a 41-year-old villager, said he was feeding his chickens on Wednesday when he heard a roar overhead.
“I looked up and saw a huge white plane moving unsteadily just slightly below the mountain summit. It was still way above the trees but veering left and right, and then it disappeared,” he told AFP by telephone from Tenjolaya district, near Mount Salak.
“I heard a sound like firecrackers, but I couldn’t see it anymore.”
By midnight Wednesday, hundreds of rescuers had set up three posts around Mount Salak as they prepared to resume their mission at dawn on Thursday.
Ahmad Rifai, who arrived at the Cidahu rescue base seeking news of his sister, a 30-year-old stewardess who had stood in for a colleague who was supposed to have been on board, broke down as he contemplated her fate.
“Why are rescuers so slow? Why didn’t they start searching for it quickly?” complained Rifai, 48. “If they had been quick, maybe my sister would still be...” he trailed off in mid-sentence.
Yudistira Alex, 43, who had several friends on board, arrived at Cidahu late Wednesday.
“They’re four of my best childhood friends. We are inseparable like brothers,” he muttered between sobs. “I don’t know who to blame, maybe this is fate.”
There were also scenes of grief at the airport in Jakarta late Wednesday, with relatives of passengers sitting on luggage carousels weeping uncontrollably, waiting for information.
Reports of the number on board varied, with local rescue officials saying the plane was carrying 46 people and Trimarga Rekatama, the company responsible for inviting the passengers, saying 50 were on board.
Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency named the captain as Alexander Yablontsev, 57, a veteran pilot.
An aviation consultant said that flying around the Salak Mountains, which are about 100 kilometers to Jakarta’s south, are not safe for a joy ride.
“Mount Salak has steep terrain,” Gerry Soejatman, an aviation consultant, told Jakarta Globe on Thursday. “It is not recommended for a joy ride — I would recommend Indramayu [West Java] and the Krakatau region. But it might be difficult now because flying to that region might potentially meet traffic from Soekarno Hatta airport.”
Gerry, who in the past, has flown to Mount Salak and Mount Gede for mapping expeditions, said that the pilots, who were from Russia and were reportedly not used to flying in Indonesia, must be painstakingly cautious when considering routes in Java’s mountainous regions.
Gerry said that the Russian Sukhoi jet should have been flying above at least 11,000 feet (3,353 meters) to keep safe distance from the Mount Salak, which is 2,211 meters tall.
“From what I heard, the pilot requested to go at 6,000 feet [1,829 meters],” he said. “They might have requested that because they were not accustom with the weather, or not worried about the weather.”
The pilot, he added, should understand that flight timing in Indonesia is also significant.
“In the morning, the sky is clear with some fog,” Gerry said. “In the late morning, it is clear, but sometimes clouds appear. After lunch, it [varies] on how fast the clouds pile up. The clouds would not have been a problem if it went up higher than 20,000 feet.”
Gerry suspected that the Russian airplane —which left Halim Perdanakusuma airport on Wednesday at 2 p.m. — crashed into the mountain wall.
“If the picture I am seeing is correct, the aircraft didn’t fall,” he said. “It hit the wall of mountain. Therefore the airplane didn’t fall out of the sky.”