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Plane 'smashed' into Sweden's tallest peak

The Local/dl · 17 Mar 2012, 16:10

Published: 17 Mar 2012 16:10 GMT+01:00

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"Norwegian military ground personnel found the plane. Wreckage from the main body of the plane has been found. Police are now taking over the investigation," Swedish rescue services spokesman Tobias Mikander told Norwegian newspaper VG.

None of the five Norwegian officers on board the plane have yet been found and the Norwegian defence minister Espen Berth Eide was downbeat over the chances of any survivors being located.

"Unfortunately it is a very serious accident. The aircraft has hit the western face of Kebnekaise and pieces of wreckage are lying across an extended area," he said at a press conference on Saturday.

Around 100 people are participating in the search for the missing soldiers at the top of Mount Kebnekaise, located some 150 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, police said.

Wreckage has been found on the east and west sides of the Kebnekaise Massive at an altitude of more than 1,500 metres.

Heavy overnight snowfall was slowing down the search operation due to the heightened avalanche risk, police spokesman Håkan Alselind told a press conference at around 10am.

Search teams still face considerable risks in the search for survivors, as four avalanches took place in the area overnight.

On Friday evening, rescue teams found pieces of wreckage smelling of aircraft fuel.

The aircraft went missing on Thursday afternoon when it was on its way from Evenes in northern Norway to Kiruna in the far north of Sweden.

At the time, the Hercules was participating in the Cold Response military training exercise taking place over northern Norway which was scheduled to run from March 12th to March 21st and included 16,000 soldiers from 15 countries.

"There was a crew of four on board as well as an extra officer. Their mission was to fly from Evenes to Kiruna to pick up material and personnel and fly back to Norway," Harald Sunde, head of the Norwegian Armed Forces told Norwegian news agency NTB.

Story continues below…

He added that the officers on board the Hercules aircraft were among the "most experienced" in the Norwegian military and that there were no clues regarding what may have happened.

"We have nothing that points us in any particular direction. This is a very robust and new aircraft, one of the best there is. It's been hard to have bad luck with this type of aircraft," said Sunde.

The missing aircraft is a C-130 J "Super" Hercules transport plane manufactured by Lockheed Martin in the United States.

The plane is one of four C-130 Js ordered by the Norwegian air force in 2007, the first of which was delivered in November 2008.

The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:41 March 17, 2012 by JulieLou40
Poor buggers.
16:06 March 17, 2012 by AmericanInSweden
Sounds like they bailed.
16:07 March 17, 2012 by sunnchilde
How could such an experienced crew make this kind of basic altitude mistake? They need to find the black boxes and especially the voice recorder. I wonder, does the C-130 have a "Terrain" alarm?
16:28 March 17, 2012 by Liquidmonkey
i'm going to guess they wanted to do a 'fly-by' of swedens highest mountain and misjudged the altitude and BANG!

its sad but there is not much else to have happened... or?
17:17 March 17, 2012 by riose
@Liquidmonkey +1

At least it wasnt another Cavalese disaster.
20:09 March 17, 2012 by Rick Methven
@ Liquidmonkey + riose

Thank god the accident investigation branch is not run by uncaring idiots like you two who's sole expertise in aviation is how to fasten your seat belt.

1. Under normal circumstances, at the place that the aircraft hit, it would of been flying at 25,000 ft not the 6,900ft of the mountain it hit.

2. professional pilots like those in charge of the aircraft do not do stupid fly by of dangerous terrain especially in low visibility.

3. If all systems in the aircraft were operating normally the GPWS ( Ground proximity warning system for you idiots) would have been sqwaking " pull up" long before they hit.

5 brave crew members have lost their lives in this accident. So kindly keep your stupid mouths shut and stop your idiotic posts.

Funny or knowledgeable you are not
20:19 March 17, 2012 by philster61
Hope they managed to somehow have bailed out and survived.....wonder how they managed to be so low.....
21:02 March 17, 2012 by Liquidmonkey

wow, u seem like a real charmer to bring to parties.

sure, we are not experts but thats no need to resort to name calling.

the plane should have been flying much higher.

if not, warning signals would have gone off plus they have an altimeter to go by.

there would have to be multiple errors in the plane for them to be flying so low and numerous sites have reported how new and how safe these planes are.

i only offered an opinion as to what i think might have happened. u don't like it or disagree, so be it but don't be a jerk and start calling people idiots. it just makes you look like one yourself.

either way, its a tragic accident and lets hope some answers are given in the near future.
21:26 March 17, 2012 by millionmileman
Why I am reading so much snarkiness over this tragedy is beyond me. I have some sarcastic comments on this site at times but now is not the time.

Having done 2 jumps from a C-130 Hercules one normally requires 1,200 ft above ground for a safe parachute jump. Emergencies can call for shorter height. But there would probably have been not enough time to harness-up.

I read about a month ago how some SAAB Gripens ran into trouble in the same geographical region. I can't recall the exact reason, possibly weather but I was wondering if the massive Iron Ore deposits in the Kiruna region could have affected their navigation interference?
21:53 March 17, 2012 by skogsbo
Ground proximity warnings would make no difference even if fitted, 1 sec they would have a few thousand feet between them and the ground, then zero ad they slammed into face.

They were probably flying purely visually, missed judged the top of the hill or cold between peaks, due to snow/white cloud blurring the real horizon. Those on foot would call it a white out.

Bail out, may day or activate plb, squawk, no chance it would all be over in under a second. Had a similar job with 2 US jet in cairngorms they missed flying over the hill by less than 30feet vertical height.

It could be instrument failure, but quite unlikely. Given my 20 plus years military sår, dozens of military air crashes and a great number of Herc flights, i suspect its a sightseeing trip gone wrong, sad for all concerned, those killed, their families, the rescuers and crash investigators who will have to bag their remains and recover at least key bits of wreckage.
00:07 March 18, 2012 by notpresto
The J model is fitted with both a ground collision avoidance system & a colour weather radar/ground mapping radar. Not as advance as a C17 but pretty damn good.

But to rely soley on these systems is the equivalent of driving your car down the e4 trusting the cruise control to get you there. These guys where experienced pilots but mistakes happen (if that was the case) and so does mechanical failure although the J model herc is a very reliable airframe.

I feel for the families of the men and woman whom have lots there lives. Tragic stuff.
01:14 March 18, 2012 by riose
@Rick Methven

1. Maybe, just maybe, they wanted the plane to fly low. Search for flyby on youtube.

2. Yeap, the captain of Costa Concordia was a pro too. But it seems that latelly the ships and planes decide to do stunts that go wrong by themselves.

3. Maybe they were working fine.
07:56 March 18, 2012 by Rick Methven
The complete lack of any mayday communications and any signal from the emergency location transmitter, indicate a catastrophic failure or mid air explosion. The C130 is built like a brick built shithouse and is sold as a rock. I have flown many hours in the civil version and it is a safe beast. kerosene soaked parts and now body parts indicate a violent explosion, yet idiots who know nothing about aircraft operations are quick to be armchair experts and blame it on pilot error. How do you think the families of the dead crew feel about you slandering them without a shred of information or understanding?
08:05 March 18, 2012 by skogsbo
I would suggest the lack of comma indicates a terminal impact. The USAFs airbourne sentry aircraft will show exactly what height and track it took. They are airbourne 24/7 and should have been used in the search information.
10:02 March 18, 2012 by Kevin Walker
I agree with Rick Methven,No one should make silly remarks,asumptions to what may of happened ,untill they find the black

boxes and do a full investigation to get all the answers.You can only feel for the families of the lost ones.It is quite possibly pilot errror,but things still can go wrong with very new aircraft aswell.
22:16 March 18, 2012 by rjcrist
I knew these crew members..very professional and exceptionally training. I worked w/ them and was a witness to their top-notch knowledge and professionalism. As a C130J Evaluator/Instructor pilot w/ USAF, there are many factors that could have caused this. So the speculation should cease till the flight information is analyzed. These aircraft have digital cards which record all information from engine start to shutdown. This aircraft has many systems..TAWS, GCAS, Low Power Color Radar w/ Ground Mapping features. All of these enable aircrew to map the ground and fly low-level missions through terrain. The news said the weather was terrible and if the aircraft encountered icing..the radome (where the radars housed) could have large accumulations of ice which impedes the aircrafts Ground Mapping feature..they could have had pitot static instruments ice up..which would give erroneous airspeed/altitude readouts..they could have also encountered severe icing..which would have reduced service ceiling..there are many factors..the only one that counts..is they'll be sorely missed...just saw them less than a month ago..your friends at Keesler will miss you all...RIP my friends.
17:30 April 7, 2012 by Al Ventura
On the 28th of November 1979, a DC10 operated by Air New Zealand crashed on the northern slopes of Mt Erebus, while conducting a sightseeing flight to the Antarctic. All 257 people on board died instantly.

From cockpit voice recordings and photographs taken by passengers moments before the crash, investigators were able to conclude that the weather was fine at the time, visibility was greater than 40 miles, and Mt Erebus was not shrouded in clouds. The pilots who were flying the aircraft did not see the mountain in front of them. They could see a horizon (albeit probably a false one) and were in clear sight of ground and water beneath them, but could not see Mt Erebus which they were about impact.

This is known as sector whiteout and it was a "major contributing factor" in this controlled flight into terrain (CFIT), according to Human Factors for Aviation, a basic handbook published by Transport Canada. The crew of Air New Zealand Flight 901 lost visual reference to the horizon and surface obstructions even though the prevailing visibility was in excess of 40 miles.

According to the American Meteorological Society, in a whiteout, "Neither shadows, horizon nor clouds are discernible; sense of depth or orientation is lost; only very dark, nearby objects can be seen." The result is plenty of vertigo-inducing, sensor illusions.
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