Why things fly, why they don’t

I’ve been talking to a lot of different people today, mostly chilangos here in el D.F., about yesterday’s air crash and their views.  I need to do a bit more thinking and a lot more listening, but I hope to have something meaningful to say as a commentary on local public opinion, although this may not be for quite a while.  For right now, though, I think I can safely summarize the general mood as one of deep suspicion that the “accident” was an assassination.

I’m certainly not an expert on aviation accidents.  However, I’m struck by the heady coincidences of the crash… the timing just as the US presidential returns came in, the location in the affluent center of Mexico City… coincidences that certainly magnified the impact of the tragedy on Mexicans and on their president, Felipe Calderon.  These coincidences certainly point many to suspecting foul play (and with the recent heavy fighting with the drug cartels, it’s no wonder!).  I mean, if I wanted to cause fear and intimidation, causing the crash of a plane carrying a senior government official into the center of the capital would be a way to do it.

But why do aircraft crash?  (With a little help from wikipedia)

So what happened in this case — could it have been an assassination?  Missiles and bombs tend to be easy to identify as they result in mid-air explosions which often cause the wreckage to be spread over larger areas.  In this case, eye witness reports don’t seem to indicate either.  Another possibility is mechanical sabotage…. though this would mean that the location of the crash was purely coincidental.  And wouldn’t that eliminate the #1 reason why foul play is suspected?  Furthermore, I’d think that if I wanted to assassinate a government official, I’d favor other methods that would guarantee success; after all, the plane was only a few minutes from landing safely.

On the other hand, there does exist evidence that the crash might have been an accident.  Initial reports suggest that wake turbulence (the Learjet was following too close behind a Boeing 767) could have played a role.  Furthermore, it has been reported that the pilot reported an emergency before contact was lost, which suggests that there was at least enough time for the pilot to realize that something was wrong, perhaps a mechanical problem.  Time will tell.

Additional note: this link, which has a video/audio report of the local air traffic control, suggests that no such emergency request was made.  (That said, from what I can tell, the Learjet was asked to change frequencies just before the accident, so I can’t be sure.) 

Thoughts?  Comments?


México, D.F.


One Response

  1. […] in any harm, ASPA’s conclusion is completely incorrect.  First, as I originally posted (“Why things fly…”), wake vortices have caused accidents before, such as American Airlines flight 587… but there […]

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