Comments about technological history, system fractures, and human resilience from James R. Chiles, the author of Inviting Disaster: Lessons from the Edge of Technology (HarperBusiness 2001; paperback 2002) and The God Machine: From Boomerangs to Black Hawks, the Story of the Helicopter (Random House, 2007, paperback 2008)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New Russian Jet, Off the Radar

Readers might be wondering how a modern airliner like the Sukhoi SuperJet 100 could stay missing for the better part of a day. 

In this post I wrote about how airliners hardly ever go permanently missing, the most recent a Pakistan International Airlines Fokker-27 turboprop that vanished among the mountains on its way to Islamabad in 1989; no trace was ever found.

No doubt something of the SuperJet 100 and its 44 souls on board will turn up soon, given that whatever happened couldn't have been more than 50 miles from Jakarta and ten miles from an airbase. 

Here's what the plane looks like on the inside, from FlightGlobal:
All we know now is that a half hour after leaving Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in Jakarta, the crew of a brand new SuperJet on a short demonstration flight for airline customers and the press (registration RA 97004) asked ATC for immediate clearance to descend from 10,000 feet to 6,000 feet. Shortly afterward it vanished from primary and secondary radar.

Nor has any information come to authorities via satellites that receive signals from emergency locator transmitters.

Mount Salak, a dormant volcano in the vicinity, tops out at 7,200 feet and another one is even higher. That raised questions about ground impact in the drizzly conditions, but people who live nearby say they heard no sounds of a crash. 

RT reports that the search has now resumed. Pending some evidence, there is speculation in some quarters about a crash-landing at high elevations because some of the passengers' cellphones do ring when called, without anyone picking up.

1 comment:

  1. RE: passenger's cell phones ringing when called...spooky!