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"It's odd," said Terry McVenes, executive air safety chairman for the
Air Line Pilots Association, International. "It's a very rare event to even have a pressurization problem, and in general crews are very well trained to deal with it."
When the aircraft flew into Greek airspace, Greek air traffic controllers couldn't raise the pilots on the radio and fighter jets intercepted the plane, flying at 34,000 feet.
The fighter pilots saw that the airline pilot wasn't in the cockpit, the co-pilot was slumped over his seat and oxygen masks dangled, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said. He said the air force pilots also saw two people possibly trying to take control of the plane.
It is that sequence of events that puzzles aviation experts.
Warnings should go off if an airliner suddenly loses pressure, and pilots are trained to immediately put their oxygen masks on and dive to about 12,000 feet, where there's enough oxygen for people to breathe, they say.
Paul Czysz, emeritus professor of aerospace engineering at St. Louis University, questions the decompression theory because people apparently were trying to fly the plane and the co-pilot was slumped over.
"He couldn't have been unconscious for a small decompression at 34,000 feet," Czysz said. "Something's amiss."
The pilot and the co-pilot would have had far more oxygen than the passengers, who have about 15 minutes, he said.
The chief Athens coroner, though, said at least six of the victims were alive when the plane plunged into the ground. But he couldn't determine whether they were conscious.
Source: Stewart Crash May Help With Greek Crash, AP
Originally posted by Zaphod58
Pilots masks are different. They hang from the back of the seats. They have to grab them, take the covers off, slip them on, and turn on the oxygen bottles. in 15 seconds or so.
Originally posted by Rasputin13
Someone earlier made reference to the decompression of a plane causing the windows to freeze over. Could it still be possible that with the windows frozen the F-16 pilots could have still made out the silloette of those in the cockpit? Could the people who entered the cockpit have scraped the ice away in an attempt to get a view of their surroundings? Or does the ice form on the outside? Aren't the windows heated to prevent icing regardless of depressurization?