Russian airliner Kogalymavia, involved in Saturday’s deadly crash in Egypt, could have gone down because of a “mechanical impact on the plane,” a senior official at the company said Monday, pushing aside the theory of a technical failure. Alexander Smirnov, deputy general director of Kogalymavia, also known as Metrojet, said the plane lost speed before the crash.
Investigators are yet to determine the cause of the crash and have been apprehensive about the theory that an external force might have led to the downing of the Airbus A320-200 carrying 224 people. According to Smirnov, the plane’s speed fell 300 kilometers per hour (186 miles per hour) and 1.5 kilometers (about 5,000 feet) in altitude one minute before it crashed in the Sinai Peninsula, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
The company also claimed that plane's crew did not contact the ground during the flight, suggesting that it was not possible for the plane to break up midair because of a technical error or pilot fault, according to the Telegraph.
Smirnov said at a press conference, according to the Agence France-Presse, that the pilots 'totally' lost control of the plane and did not try to make any radio contact before it crashed. He added that a previous tail strike "was repaired fully," and did not have any effects on the plane’s safety. Moreover, the airline reportedly said that the plane’s engines were last tested in Moscow on Oct. 26, and no issues were detected.
Metrojet’s comments come after Russian news agency RIA, citing Russia’s labor inspectorate, reported Monday that Kogalymavia had failed to pay two months’ salary to its employees, according to Reuters.
A Russian minister, meanwhile, said Monday that the black boxes found from the plane were in good condition, according to AP. Investigators have reportedly started examining them.
Viktor Sorochenko, director of Russia’s Intergovernmental Aviation Committee, said Sunday that the 18-year-old plane broke up midair and that it was too early to draw conclusions. "The destruction happened in the air, and fragments were scattered over a large area of around 20 square kilometers," Sorochenko said.
The Metrojet aircraft crashed Saturday morning 23 minutes after takeoff from Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt. All 224 on board, mostly Russian citizens, were killed. The bodies of 144 victims were flown to St. Petersburg, Russia, from Sinai early Monday.