Re: A second 757 crash -- off the Dominican coast

From:         Pete Mellor <pm@csr.city.ac.uk>
Date:         08 Feb 96 03:21:01 
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Further to the message from Karl (07 Feb 96 14:42:36) detailing
the current "facts" (the quotes should not be taken to imply any
criticism of Karl's fairly comprehensive summary, but to
emphasise the dubious nature of some of the sources), a few
points from the coverage in this morning's Guardian are worth
noting:-

1. The flight was described as "illegal". The airline (given as
   "Alas Nacionales") that chartered the aircraft had not contacted
   the German authorities to obtain landing permission.
   (Source: Volker Mattern, German transport ministry.)

2. The B757 that crashed had no licence to fly to Berlin and Frankfurt.
   The B767 that it replaced on the flight did have permission to fly
   to Germany. (Source: German transport ministry spokesman.)

3. In 1993, Alas Nacionales was one of 14 Carribean air carriers shut
   down by the FAA for failure to comply with safety standards.

4. The tour operator was a Herr Vural Oeger of Oeger Tours, based in
   Hamburg. Herr Oeger was the source of the statements about the 767's
   "mechanical troubles" and the 757's lightning strike.

5. Herr Oeger's statement that the 767 originally scheduled for the
   flight had to be grounded before take-off due to a malfunction of
   the hydraulic system was contradicted by a spokeswoman for Berlin
   Schoenefeld airport (Rosamarie Meischner), who said that the planes
   were switched because the flight was underbooked for a 767
   (capacity 300 compared to the 757's capacity of 224). The Guardian
   also gives the numbers as 176 passengers and 13 crew.

6. Herr Oeger claimed that no landing permission was needed when a
   plane was substituted at short notice. This raises the question
   (not addressed in the Guardian report) of whether Alas Nacionales
   had previously sought landing permission for the flight as
   originally planned with a 767.

7. Herr Oeger's statement that the 757 appeared to have been struck
   by lightning was contradicted by German officials (not identified)
   who said that a thick film of oil miles wide at the crash site
   meant there was neither a fire nor an explosion.

8. The pilot was Turkish. Early reports said that he had attempted to
   turn back shortly after take-off from Puerto Plata airport. The
   time that the plane disappeared from radar screens was given as
   three minutes after take-off, and the location as "12 miles from
   the coast" and "13 miles north of Puerto Plata".

9. The search was suspended in "heavy rain" last night and is expected
   to resume today. No information about the weather on take-off is
   given. 106 bodies have so far been recovered by the US coastguard
   and Dominican military rescue teams. Wreckage stretched over two
   miles and included bodies, seat cushions, empty life rafts and
   life jackets. "This is the ocean and this is the sharks' home,"
   said a Dominican air force major.

10. The accompanying map shows that the crash occurred just outside
   the Bermuda triangle.

Draw your own conclusions about the integrity of the tour operator
and carrier. (Perhaps Herr Oeger had been on the 'phone to a
well-informed shark! :-)

Pete
----
Peter Mellor, Centre for Software Reliability, City University, Northampton
Square, London EC1V 0HB, UK. Tel: +44 (171) 477-8422, Fax: +44 (171) 477-8585
E-mail: p.mellor@csr.city.ac.uk