Here are several stories about this week’s air traffic nightmares:
U.S. officials raise alarm about
new Venezuelan missiles
By Juan O. Tamayo | Miami Herald
Posted on Sunday, May 31, 2009
Venezuela’s recent purchase of the most lethal shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles in the Russian arsenal is sharpening U.S. concerns that parts of President Hugo Chávez’s massive weapons buildup could wind up in the hands of terrorists or guerrillas in neighboring Colombia.
Washington’s unease is well-founded, U.S. government officials say, because of credible evidence that three top Venezuelan officials offered Colombia’s FARC rebels weapons, money and contacts to buy anti-aircraft missiles in 2007…
AIR FRANCE DISASTER
And here’s a presumably unrelated story about an Air France jet (Flight 447 – an Airbus 330-200) that disappeared today somewhere in the vicinity of the Brazilian island archipelago of Fernando de Naronha en route to Paris from Rio. There were 228 souls aboard of various nationalities.
Shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles should generally not be a concern when traveling at altitudes of over 20,000 feet. Flight 447 was apparently flying at its intended “cruising altitude” of 35,000 feet.
I’m sure that authorities will have already checked the roster of small planes or jets that flew out of Naronha’s long-strip airfield yesterday. (At least, I hope they will have.)
UPDATE: June 1, 2009 – Plane wreckage found.
Missing and presumed dead in the crash are numerous business executives and Prince Pedro Luís de Orléans-Bragança, fourth in line to the Imperial Brazilian throne.
Just Last Week: Argentine Bomb Threat Against Air France.
Just five days before Flight 447 disappeared over the Atlantic during its Rio to Paris voyage, an Air France plane was delayed by a bomb threat as it waited to take off for Paris from Buenos Aires.
AND… Another presumably unrelated story about a plane over Texas that reported the lucky near-miss of a projectile at 13,000 feet.
Of course… there’s also the story about a possible attempt on the life of former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, who dropped out of the current presidential race to support Mir-Hossein Mousavi.
UPDATE: June 23, 2009 – Signals from Black Boxes Detected by Sub?
The UN Security Council has unanimously condemned North Korea’s latest nuclear firing test, which everyone seems to be assuming is their second such detonation, though that might not be the case.
The precise yield of the explosion is difficult to gauge for the following reasons:
- Given the DPRK’s proficiency at digging shafts, tunnels and underground facilities, they may be successfully shielding and shaping their blasts in order to minimise their seismic signatures. If different device placement configurations are used for each test, this will help to confound those attempting to ‘profile’ the device in question — and, over a series, it will tell the North Koreans which configurations work best.
- The seismic waves generated by the most recent test are distinctly different from their first known test on October 9, 2006, which could mean that a different device type may have been employed this time, in which case, the previous data will be somewhat less useful in determining the energy output of the test at hand.
- Russian seismographs have been off-line for quite some time, limiting the number of high quality data points when interpreting the test’s meaning and ultimate implications. The Chinese ones have been running off-and-on for a good part of the past few months, which has proved less than helpful to seismic monitoring efforts focused on that part of the world.
As compared to the first test, the blast barely registered a blip at China’s QIZ seismograph located at Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, which responded quite emphatically to the October 9th test. (See last story this topic.)
Russian sources estimate the test’s yield to be in the range of 10 to 20 kilotons — which are the same figures they proposed for the first test, which turned out only to have generated a blast force of less than one kiloton. It makes you wonder about the value of Russian contributions on these matters.
I’m still digesting the news (and the data), but I’ll take a stab at guessing the yield on this newest test — which could be anything from the country’s second to tenth nuclear test.
Best guesstimate at this time: 5 – 10 kT.
Note: There is also a possibility that two tests could have been conducted in almost immediate sequence (about 15 minutes apart) — with the second test of the day yielding roughly double the energy of the first. In other words: two tests registering 5 kT and 10 kT, respectively. (I can’t find a quake to match up with that second, slightly larger, blip. Maybe you can.)
Did North Korea score a 2-for-1 deal once again?
Now, I guess we just wait to see what happens next.