[FPSPACE] Meteorite, not space junk, blamed for airliner's near miss
ljk4 at msn.com
Thu Apr 5 09:22:40 EDT 2007
Meteorite, not space junk, blamed for airliner's near miss dpa German Press
Published: Thursday March 29, 2007
Wellington- Experts believe a meteorite, not space junk, was more likely the
cause of flaming debris that narrowly missed a Lan Chile airliner over the
South Pacific this week, according to news reports Friday.
New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) launched an inquiry into the
incident after debris fell close to the Airbus A-340, carrying up to 300
people from Santiago to Auckland Tuesday night.
A Russian satellite falling out of orbit was originally blamed for the
incident in which the jet was said to be only 40 seconds away from disaster.
"Space agencies track satellites, and if they're coming down they can
predict when and where reasonably accurately," CAA spokesman Bill Sommer
told the New Zealand Herald. "Airlines will then have that information and
make sure they don't fly through those areas."
He said the system was reliable, adding, "If I was a betting person, I would
bet on a meteorite rather than space debris."
Captain Steven Anderson, assistant secretary of the Australian and
International Pilots' Association, told the paper most space debris would
have burned up by the time it reached an airplane's cruising altitude of
about 10,668 metres.
"I would imagine that a satellite, by the time it reached the aircraft,
would have been completely destroyed," he said.
The flight landed safely at Auckland Airport early Wednesday. The CAA
inquiry is likely to take a month.
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