Saturday 20 January 2018

Terrifying toll of year's crashes that shocked the world

The wreckage of the Russian plane that crashed in Egypt. Photo: AFP
The wreckage of the Russian plane that crashed in Egypt. Photo: AFP
A French rescue worker inspects the debris from the Germanwings Airbus A320 at the site of the crash, near Seyne-les-Alpes, French Alps. Photo: REUTERS
Dramatic footage of a plane’s last moments in Taiwan. Photo: AFP
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

There were a number of high-profile aviation incidents during 2015.

A disaster involving a TransAsia Airways flight in Taiwan was dramatically captured on a motorist's dashcam as the ATR turboprop aircraft hurtled to catastrophe on February 4.

The aircraft had taken off from Taipei's Songshan Airport just minutes before. The pilots had climbed to 1,500 feet and apparently the aircraft quickly suffered an engine flameout.

Within about three minutes of takeoff, the aircraft had crashed.

Its final moments were captured on camera, as it first cleared an apartment building, then tilted sharply, the wing clipping a taxi on an elevated viaduct road, before part of the port wing was sheared off immediately after as it struck the road's guardrail.

Of the 58 passengers and crew on board, just 15 survived.

The following month, the world was shook by the almost unimaginable case of Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who ploughed an Airbus A320 aircraft into the French Alps about 100km from Nice in a suicide case.

His actions killed himself and all 144 passengers, the captain, and four cabin crew members, most of them from Germany and Spain.

The aircraft had been en route from Barcelona's El Prat airport to Dusseldorf. Germanwings is a subsidiary of Lufthansa.

Troublingly, 27-year-old Lubitz had been previously treated for suicidal tendencies, and had torn up doctors' notes that had declared him unfit for work. He had never informed Germanwings of the doctors' findings.

In October, the loss of Metrojet flight 9268 over Egypt would have major geo-political repercussions.

The Airbus A321 aircraft was travelling from the popular Sharm el-Sheikh airport to St Petersburg in Russia, with 217 passengers and seven crew on board.

Less than 25 minutes after taking off, having climbed to 31,000 ft, the aircraft vanished from radar, 300km from Sharm el-Sheikh.

The wreckage indicated the aircraft had disintegrated in the air over the Sinai Desert, and the immediate suspicion was that a bomb had caused the disaster.

Russia banned flights from its country to Sharm el-Sheikh and insisted that a bomb had caused the disaster. Terror group ISIS also claimed responsibility.

But Egyptian authorities later said that it wasn't certain a bomb had caused the aircraft disintegration and that there was still no proof that explosives had been involved in the incident.

"The technical committee has not acquired thus far any indication of the presence of illicit meddling or a terrorist motion," said Ayman el-Mokkadem, the Egyptian head of the crash investigation.

It's been speculated that catastrophic mechanical failure could still have been the underlying cause.

Experts from the Irish Aviation Authority were among investigators from five countries involved in probing the disaster. The Metrojet aircraft was registered in Ireland.

Irish Independent

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