DUBAI, Nov 8 (Reuters) Emirates Airlines President Tim Clark said on Sunday he expected the crash of a Russian passenger jet in Egypt would result in demands for stringent aviation security worldwide.
Speaking at the Dubai Airshow, Clark added that he had ordered a security review, but was not suspending any flights as a result of the disaster.
Daesh militants fighting security forces in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula have said they brought down the Airbus AIR.PA A321, which crashed 23 minutes after taking off from the resort of Sharm Al Sheikh a week ago, killing all 224 passengers. Egyptian officials have rejected that claim.
“Plane Broke Up Mid-air”
The Russian plane was flying on auto-pilot and appeared to break up in mid-air after a sudden noise but it is too soon to conclude exactly what brought it down, the lead investigator said on Saturday.
Ayman Al Muqaddam, head of a team of experts looking into one of Egypt’s worst air disasters, said the cockpit voice recording would be analysed to identify the nature of the noise, which Western governments have indicated may have been a bomb.
Muqaddam said the auto-pilot was still engaged when the crash occurred and debris were scattered over a wide area of the Sinai desert extending for 13 km (8 miles), adding that this was “consistent with an in-flight break-up.”
The black boxes recovered from the crash site showed that a “a noise was heard in the last second of the … recording.” The recording will be send to a specialist laboratory for analysis.
Scientists have used such methods to examine the signature of dying cockpit recordings inaircraft bombings. Comparing the frequencies may help determine whether the sound recorded on the Russian jet comes from a deliberate or accidental explosion.
Muqaddam said his team, including experts from Egypt, Russia, France, Germany and Ireland, was considering “all possible scenarios for the cause of the accident” but had not yet reached any conclusion. He said structural fatigue, a fuel explosion and even lithium batteries carried by passengers could be a cause.
Referring to media reports that Western intelligence sources believe that the plane may have been brought down by a bomb, Muqaddam said no evidence related to those claims had been provided to his team.
Anger at West
His comments echoed the irritation expressed earlier on Saturday by Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who said that foreign intelligence about the cause of the crash had not been passed on to Cairo.
“The information we have heard about has not been shared with Egyptian security agencies in detail,” Shoukry said. “We were expecting that the technical information would be provided to us.”
He suggested countries now flagging the likelihood that militants were behind the crash should have heeded Egypt’s repeated calls for coordination to combat terrorism.
“The spread of terrorism, which we have for a long time called on our partners to tackle more seriously, did not get through to many of the parties which are now exposed and which are currently working for the interests of their citizens to face this danger,” he told a news conference.
Shoukry repeated his government’s insistence that it was premature to reach conclusions, but security officials said they were checking video footage at Sharm Al Sheikh airport for any suspicious activity, in the clearest sign yet that they believe the Russian plane could have been deliberately targeted.
“We want to determine if, for instance, anyone sneaked past security officials or the metal detectors. We are also trying to determine if there was any unusual activity among policemen or airport staff,” one of the officials told Reuters.