ISIS’ Egypt crash explanation that the Russian plane with 224 people on board was brought down with a Schweppes soft drink can is causing worldwide concern for airline safety officials. Can a soda can really bring down a passenger jet like the Airbus A321?
As reported by the Guardian on November 18, the ISIS online magazine, Dabiq, published a photo on Wednesday showing a picture of the Schweppes soft drink can improvised bomb that allegedly caused the death of 224 innocent people in October. The photo shows three simple components used to make the bomb – a Schweppes Gold soft drink can, a detonator, and a switch.
“Explosives experts said it was feasible the device shown in the photo could bring down a plane, depending on where it was located and the density of explosives in the soft drink can. The most vulnerable locations include the fuel line, the cockpit or anywhere close to the fuselage skin.”
ISIS’ Egypt crash account of how the Russian plane was brought down was compared by experts to the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 by Libyan nationals over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. In 1988, the deadly bomb also consisted of three simple components — a palm-sized explosive in a cassette recorder placed in the bag in the luggage hold, a detonator and a switch.
Jimmie Oxley, a professor of chemistry who specializes in explosives at the University of Rhode Island, said that the placement of an explosive device (no matter how simple) is “the critical thing.” In 1988, the device ripped a 50 centimeter (about 20 inches) hole in the fuselage, and it was the decompression that caused the plane to break up in mid-air.
The Russian plane crash investigation has shown that a 100-centimeter (1 meter or 40 inches) hole was found in a fragment of the plane’s fuselage. It appears that the explosion occurred in the rear of the passenger cabin, near the frame of the tail. “The bomb was probably placed under a window seat.” The detonation likely “caused an explosive loss of cabin pressure, detachment of the tail and the breakup of the plane in mid-air. Those on board died almost instantly from the sharp drop in pressure.”
ISIS’ Egypt crash photo details of how the Russian plane was brought down with a soda can bomb left out information as to whether an ISIS member was on board to detonate the bomb or whether it was set on a timer. According to Wednesday’s report by the Russian newspaper Kommersant, “the bomb is likely to have been brought on board by airport service personnel, such as cabin cleaners or workers delivering baggage and food, and set off by a timer, though another possibility is that it went off when a sensor detected falling pressure as the plane gained altitude.”