Until the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned all U.S. airlines (followed by British Airways and all the other major ones) from flying over Iraq because of the “hazardous situation” created by the armed conflict in the region, hundred commercial flights crossed each day the Iraqi airspace on their way between Europe and Asia and (vice versa), at high altitude, well above the reach of MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense Systems) and the weapons known to be in the hands of the militants.
The following image, from Flightradar24.com, shows aircraft (those equipped with ADS-B transponder) crossing the airspace over Iraq on Aug. 8 (top) and Jul. 8 (bottom). It looks like U.S. flights are currently routing through Iranian airspace, that is considered safer than Iraqi one.
Among all the images published on media outlets from all around the world, the one first published by Financial Times over the past weekend, struck our attention.
The piece of wreckage, reportedly measuring 1 mt sq, has a couple of distinctive features that may help the identification: the colored stripes of the Malaysia Airlines livery and the bolts of the cockpit side windshield.
Based on these details, with the help of our contributor Giuliano Ranieri, we identified (and obviously we were not the only ones) the piece as a chunk of front fuselage located next to the cockpit (slightly below it), on the left hand side of the plane.
The piece has several burn marks, a large central hole and several smaller punture marks surrouding it. The edges of the small holes seem to be bent outwards, evidence of something that got out of the skin from the inside of the plane.
This is a sign the missile, most probably fired by an SA-11 system according to almost all reports to date, equipped with a proximity fuse, detonated on the right side of the aircraft not too far from the nose, scattering several fragments of shrapnel so fast that they traversed the plane from side to side: they entered through the right side of the airframe and got out from the left one.
Furthermore, considering the amount of puncture marks concentrated at the base of the cockpit window’s we can assume both pilots were hit by high speed, hot shrapnels that most probably did not give them time to realize what was going on.
Image credit: FT.com/graphic by Giuliano Ranieri
New, higher resolution images of the same part of wreckage have emerged. These images seem to point in a different direction.
Indeed, the holes have edges that appear to be inward. This could be coherent with a missile which did not blast on the aircraft’s right hand side, but on the left one, between the nose and the leading edge of the left wing. Still, the type of puncture marks and the concentration are suitable with a SARH.
A nice head-on combo image of the Airbus A350 and Airbus A380 during Farnborough International Airshow 2014.
Even if the F-35 saga is what most people will remember about this year’s edition, Farnborough International Airshow, in UK, featured several other highlights, including, as always, some stunning air displays by huge commercial planes.
Among them, the demo of Boeing 787-9, the newest and biggest version of the Dreamliner, with some stunning maneuvers performed by the 280-seat passenger planes, and the displays of the A350 and A380.
The Airbus planes flew their displays in sequence: as the cool image above, taken by Rich Cooper, shows while the Airbus A380 (which was preceded by an A400M Grizzly) was coming to land at the end, the A350 took off to perform its demo flight.
For this reason, when on Jul. 22 rockets fell close to Ben Gurion international airport, in Tel Aviv, Delta Airlines and several U.S. and European airlines decided to cancell all their flights to Israel not to jeopardize the safety of their planes.
At the time Delta decided it was not safe to fly to Israel, DL468, a Boeing 747-400 was en route from JFK to Tel Aviv. The flight was then diverted to Paris Charles De Gaulle international airport.
Along with Delta, United Airlines, American Airlines, Lufthansa, Air France, Alitalia and other airlines decided to cancel their flights to Tel Aviv, most of them for at least 24 – 36 hours, or “until further notice.”
Interestingly, the Russian MoD said the Su-25 (mistakenly defined as a “fighter jet” whereas it is an attack plane) operated well above its ceiling of 23,000 feet. Even more interesting the Wiki page of the Su-25 was edited (by a Russian IP address) to update its specifications…