Re: Swissair Flt 111

Date:         10 Sep 98 03:04:18 
From:         Jesus Brezmes <jbrezmes@etse.urv.es>
References:   1
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As far as I know, the choice of Halifax was done because the altitude at
the time of the emergency (over FL300) does not allow you to go down
instanly and land just right below where you are when you declare an
emergency. Even Hallifax proved to be too near since the pilot would have
to fly in a circle path in order to lose altitude safely before landing,
remember that descent rates are limited, they cannot be infinite or
instantaneous.

Besides that, my personal opinion, completely speculative of course, is
that the plane exploded at 10.000 feet. I base my idea in the following facts:

1. Radar lost contact with the plane at FL100, something unusual at that
altitude unless the plane explodes
2. The plane transponder seems that it became suddenly dead at that altitude
3. The first black box recovered (the digital data recorder black box) went
blind at that altitude, that is, it was recovered with minor damage and
data before FL10000 has been read easily, which means that the recording
mechanism died at 10.000 feet due to whatever cause(electrical powerdown,
explosion, etc).
4. Neighbors heared a loud "boom" that could have been the explosion rather
than the impact with water
5. The plane sections located so far are far appart than expected, which
may point to the fact that the plane was already in pieces when it hit the
water
6. The smoke in the cabin is a clear indication of a fire, of course, and
that fire could have reached the center fuel tanks of the plane if the fire
started in the cargo bay as suggested by some experts.

I don't think they run out of fuel dumping too much fuel to prepare
landing, as some preliminary comments pointed out. In that case landing
over water should have been softer, the tail hitting first the water. There
are some stablished procedures for such emergency situation.

Well, I insist that this is my opinion and I woud like to see more comments
on the accident on the list. Of course mine and the rest of the comments
sent to the list will only be hypothesis.