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Murder in the SunMorgue
by Denis O'Brien, PhD

Who killed hundreds of Syrian children in Ghouta, Aug21|2013? How, and why?

WordPress version


Breaking Bad News

March 19, 2016

Preliminary evidence suggests sinister explanation of FDB981 crash 
Video of fireball dropping like a rock is not a 737 trying to land in bad weather

Mar20|16 update



Fireball landing of FDB981

(Sat. Mar19|16, 5:00pm PT) -- Some  of the crap you see and read in the MSM is just so grossly stupid that it reaches right out and grabs you by the throat.  CNN . . . I'm lookin' at you.

As of 9:49 ET today here is what CNN's Matthew Chance, Susannah Cullinane, and Pierere Meilhan are telling us about the FlyDubai Flight 981 (FDB981) crash at the Rostov Airport (ROV) near Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia. ( 47 15.444' N 39 49.013' E )

  • The plane was a 737-800.
  • It circled the airport 2x in "high winds" before crashing on a second landing attempt.
  • It circled the airport 3x, according to CNN "aviation expert" Mary Schiavo.
  • All 62 on board killed.
  • FDB981 was scheduled to land 06:20pm ET, crashed at 08:50pm ET (3:50am Mar19 local time).
  • "State media" reported winds of 60mph at time of crash.
  • The pilots each had almost 6000 hours of flying time.
  • No distress call.
  • Runway was well lit and had an instrument landing system.

All of this info is moderately consistent with what I have found from flight tracker and weather sites, but the problem is that the CNN report includes a YouTube that is supposed to be a CCTV vid of the crash.  It is that YT that throws this whole report into the loony-toon category of journalism.  But before making that point, let's look at a couple of other MSM reports.

RT, for example, links to the same CCTV vid.  In a separate article time-stamped "19 Mar. 2016 04:10" RT presents a timeline.  Here are some of the most pertinent points:

  •  Refers to the plane a crashing "during landing approach."
  •  Emergency Ministries issued prior warning of "extreme weather conditions."
  •  2 hrs and 9 mins passed between 1st landing attempt and the crash.
  •  Plane "completely disintegrated at the very beginning of the runway."
  •  Wind velocity at time of crash was 22 m/sec.
  •  Three flights prior to FDB981 were diverted.
  • The black boxes have been recovered.
  • Crash site experience rare natural jet stream w/ winds over 100 kph according to FOBOS weather center.

And here are a number of videos I rely on to round out what we know about this crash at this early point in time.

Vid #1 -- the CCTV vid that purports to show the crash.

Vid #2 -- aerial view of the crash site well after daybreak

Vid #3 -- ground view of the crash site about daybreak.

Vid #4 -- debris-field in day light.

Given this background information, such as it is just hours after the event, a couple of very troublesome but intriguing questions will arise in a skeptic's mind.

Question #1: Did FDB981 blow up during landing, or is the CCTV vid a spoof?

It doesn't require a wacko conspiracy-theory level of skepticism to see that the CCTV vid (Vid #1) doesn't jive with the official story that FDB981 crash landed because of bad weather, or, according to CNN, because of pilot "disorientation."  I don't even know what "pilot disorentation" means with respect to pilots who have a combined log-time of 12,000 hours and a runway that has instrument landing capabilities.  But what ever, that's what we're being told.  The pilot disorientation theory comes from CNN's Mary Schaivo.  

But maybe Mary is out to lunch on this story.  For Vid #1 clearly shows a fireball falling to the ground at an angle of 55-60 degrees.  That is not, by any rational analysis, a plane attempting to land and missing the runway in bad weather or because of two "disoriented" pilots.  

The yellow line in the composite figure above -- constructed from Vid #1 -- shows a) a fireball, and b) an angle of descent of 55-60 degrees from horizontal.  Even in bad weather airliners do not land at anywhere near such a steep angle.  A normal angle of descent is more like 3-5 degrees from horizontal.  The angle of descent into London City Airport is extreme at 5.5 degrees.  

Also landing airliners do not appear as fireballs.  Had FDB981 been trying to land, it would not even be visible in this video.  The only way there could have been a fireball falling at that angle and at that velocity is if the plane exploded on approach.  

This presents only two possibilities: 1.  FDB981 exploded during its approach, or 2. the CCTV vid is a spoof.

Question #2: Why are the weather conditions being misrepresented?

Like sheep on the way to the abattoir, the media have gotten in line behind Russian reports that the weather at ROV was horrible at the time of the crash.  

As the MSM web pages keep getting updated throughout the day, the weather at the crash site keeps getting worse and worse.  For instance, the original CNN report by Chance, Cullinane, and Meilhan said there were "high winds."  Hours later that report has been replaced by one authored by Matthew Chance, Susannah Cullinane, and Greg Botelho (using the same URL) in which the winds are reported as "60 mph."  

Likewise RT upped the wind speed from 22 meters per second  (49 mph) to 100 kph (62 mph) and claims there were "extreme weather conditions" in the region.    

I don't think so. 

Strong suspicion: the bullshit meter has gone off the scale

Before wading into this BS analysis it will be helpful to give you a visual orientation of the Rostov Airport and the crash site.  Here is the Google Earth satellite view of the airport: 


After 2 hours of holding south of the runway, FDB981 made its final approach from the NE to land on runway 22, which is to say the end of the runway in the upper right corner of the figure above.  The CCTV vid (Vid #1) shows the fireball falling from left to right, which means that the CCTV cam had to be on the west side of the runway looking toward the east.  Besides there is no boulevard on the east side of the airport matching the one seen in Vid #1.  Using the few geolocation clues available in the vid I have tentatively located that camera position to one of two spots opposite the north end of runway 22, as shown below.  I believe the marker #1 below indicates the most likely position as it is the one most accurately aligned with the impact site.  These sites are about 800 meters from the runway.


Finally, there is the aerial view of the impact site (Vid #2).  

As explained below, this vid was taken after snow had begun to fall.  That snowcover makes the extent of the impact site  obvious.  It begins just 100 meters from the very end of the pavement and extends barely 240 meters to the leading edge of the first large "zebra."  

My first inclination was that the CCTV vid is another spoof of the type that both CNN and RT have fallen for in the past.  But when I located at least two possible camera positions that agree very well with the information we have, then the authenticity of the CCTV vid is much more likely.  I mean of ROV had been stuck out in the country with nothing around it vaguely resembling the parking lot and tree-lined boulevard we see in Vid #1, then one would have to conclude the vid is a spoof.  But now I don't think it is. 

The problem is that if that vid is not a spoof, then the plane was almost certainly brought down by an explosion, and the authorities are almost certainly lying. 

Let me begin with the weather.  Watch that CCTV vid carefully.  What you will see is a night scene of a well-lit multi-lane boulevard  with a median strip and quite a few bare trees.  The road surfaces are wet, but there is no discernable rain falling during the vid.  But what is more telling is the lack of wind -- the trees are barely moving.  According to the MSM who are, parroting Russian "authorities," the wind was supposed to be blowing at 60 mph -- far, far more than sufficient to bend the trees.  

Also, note that the falling fireball and resulting smoke are very clear, indicating visibility was not too bad.  This is corroborated by photos of the impact site taken before sunrise and showing very good visibility and the runway light burning.  Again, I'm not sure how a pilot gets disoriented in such moderate conditions.  

If you watch the CCTV vid to the end, you will see the fireball and smoke rise and drift toward the left, which is to say to the north or northeast.  The fact that the smoke doesn't immediately dissipate but, rather, rises straight up and moves fairly slowly tells one that a very modest wind was blowing from the south to southwest.    

These observations and deductions about the weather at the impact site, while in stark contrast to the "extreme weather conditions" reported by the media, are in good agreement with what I have found on international weather sites.  Weather Underground, for instance, provides half-hourly conditions for ROV on the morning of the crash, shown below.  

 In the half hour prior to the crash, which was at 3:30am, the wind was blowing about 25 mph from the WSW.  That is a very moderate breeze and would present no problem for a 737 even though it was cross-wind of a few degrees.  These data are entirely with what we see in Vid #1, both in terms of virtually no movement of the trees and the slow drift of the smoke to the north or northeast.  The data do show that during that half-hour prior to the crash there was at least one gust of about 40 mph (19 m/s) -- nothing like the "extreme weather" or gusts of 60 mph being reported by RT and the Russian authorities.  Besides, the runway itself is partially protected from a westerly by multi-story buildings along the western boundary of the runway.  

And even if, perchance, a large gust of 60 mph that was not detected by the weather instruments that Weather Underground has access to but knocked FDB891 off the runway, that would still not explain either the fireball or the angle of descent being 10x steeper than a normal landing approach.

For the record, Vid #2 and Vid #3 both show heavy snow falling.  That is consistent with the Weather Underground data indicating heavy snow started at about 10am and tapered off after 2:30pm.

Evidence of terrorism.

It is way too early in the aftermath of this tragedy to be concluding that this is the second Russian-bound flight leaving an Arab country in the last five months to be sabotaged with scores of fatalities.  However, given the impressive contradictions between what we are being told and what we can plainly see with a little digging, I don't think I would be wacky or irresponsible to lay out the evidence so far collected indicating this was an act of terrorism.  I am not making that allegation at this point, but I think there is valid cause for concern. Here's my bullet-list:

  • There is no disputing that Vid #1 shows a fireball falling to the ground.  Unless that video is proved to be fabricated or not related to FDB981, then this was almost certainly sabotage.
  • Likewise, the angle of descent of the fireball clearly indicates that the aircraft did not hit the ground during a landing approach.  The footage of the  very small size of debris shown in Vid #4 combined with the very limited length of the impact site both confirm the visual evidence of Vid #1 that the aircraft virtually dove into the ground at a steep angle and high rate of speed.  Had this been an attempted landing, the debris would have extended for half the distance of the runway and there would have been large pieces of the aircraft left intact. Given that the aircraft was obviously lined up to land, it may have been on a landing approach up to about a few thousand feet off the ground, but something happened.  
  • According to FlightAware data, FBD981 made a normal approach to ROV from the southeast.  At 111 miles out, it began its descent from its cruising altitude of 36,000 ft.  The last data FlightAware has was when the aircraft was 57 miles from the airport traveling at 300 knots and an altitude of 18,000 ft.  This does not sound like an aircraft flying into "extremely" bad weather.  According to CNN and RT, three flights in front of FDB981 were diverted just 141 miles to the south to Krasnodar.  Why wasn't FDB981?
  • Let me ask that one again: why wasn't FDB981 diverted to Krasnodar?  Here is a close-up from Flightradar of the holding pattern of FDB981 over ROV for two hours prior to it's crash:

Nobody in their right mind would hold a plane over ROV for two hours due to bad weather when an alternative landing was only 15-30 minutes away.  Besides, during those two hours FDB981's altitude was about 10,000 ft., which would have been smack dab in the middle of the foul weather. 

  • One reason FDB981 was holding over ROV could have been because it was burning off as much fuel as possible, which means the pilots knew they were in trouble.  At the end, FDB981 dropped like a rock in a vacuum. Here's FlightTrader's tweet that destroys the bad weather theory and virtually confirms the rest of the evidence presented here: 


The best theory that fits the data

From what I have seen today, the best theory that fits all the data is that FDB981 was brought down by an explosion. The fact that the airliner burned off its fuel for two hours suggests that the crew knew they were in trouble, which suggests a terrorist on board.  If this is terrorism being covered up by the Russians, it won't be for long. 



Denis R. O'Brien, PhD/Esq.
denis [at-sign] logophere [full stop] com


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