As usual there are conflicting reports. Some examples are shown below, with items of note in bold. First, here's something from an AP wire report:
The crash occurred at 11.57 p.m. Monday local time when the French-made Dassault Falcon 50 burst into flames after hitting the snowplow during takeoff from Vnukovo airport, which is used by Russian government officials, including President Vladimir Putin, and visiting foreign leaders.So AP says it was during "takeoff". Makes sense when considering the destruction of the aircraft, which apparently inverted before its tragic end. But here's the press spokeslady from the Vnukovo airport (the government facility Putin uses to fly in and out):
During the taxiing before take-off, at around 0:10 am Moscow time on Tuesday, the light aircraft hit a snow-clearing machine, the head of Vnukovo’s press service, Elena Krylova, told the media. “A Falcon airplane that was en route from Moscow to Paris collided with a snowplow while the jet was preparing to take off. The plane caught fire after the collision and all the people onboard – including a passenger and three crew members - died,” Krylova said.
The aircraft did not leave the ground after hitting the vehicle, she added, refuting earlier reports that the plane did eventually take off but then the pilot made a decision to turn back and land. The investigators have already found the aircraft’s black boxes while the airport staff were writing explanatory reports, she added.So we're being asked to believe the Falcon jet slammed the plow as it was lining up for takeoff? With debris strewn hundreds of meters and the aircraft being inverted? But despite the widespread debris the plow driver survived and amazingly, the airport was cleared to reopen only 2 hours later:
Vnukovo Airport temporarily suspended all flights following the incident, but by 2 am all operations were restored.Perhaps at this juncture it would help to show a picture of the airport..
Two main runways, lots of taxiways, more than enough potential confusion with low visibility. And they could have resumed operations with only one runway, it appears. So what about the weather? According to this report the temperature at crash time was 34F with humidity at 100 percent with a light southeast wind--all conducive to fog formation, and indeed the weather observation mentioned visibility at only 1/4 mile in light drizzle. So, why was a snow plow on the runway? Were they releasing urea or some other substance to melt possible slush and ice? Maybe--Moscow was expecting snow. And it's entirely conceivable the allegedly drunken plow driver got lost in the mist and took the wrong taxiway or crossed an active runway and nobody in the tower could see it. But we're back to the plow driver surviving, which sounds like a miracle.
By the way, here's another story that described the crash this way:
"During run-up at 11:57 pm (1957 GMT), there was a collision with the airport's snowplough...Misinformation after crashes is as predictable as sunrise, especially with the clown car media involved, but this report was from the airport PR person, not the media. And she claims the plane wasn't taking off, because if it was taking off it wouldn't be 'running up'.
But here's a presumed eyewitness report of airport operations this morning--only hours after the crash:
I was in Vnukovo today. I couldn't find any rests of the aircraft. Last night, at 12.15, I was returning home, driving through eastern Moscow. Heavy rains after a snowy sunday. It wasn't snowing at all. It was just raining. As I got to my house, 8nm from Vnukovo, around 12.35, there was almost no rain left. Flights today were mostly in order, no big delays. Heavy winds in the West-East direction. Lately, runway 24 is mostly used for take offs while runway 01 for landings. Anyone knows where was the crash? I saw nothing, although it was a 4 minutes drop off visit to Vnukovo, but i deeply checked in the around and couldn't find a single piece of aircraft, smoke, nothing. I was there at 11am.Hard to believe there would be no sign of some debris there the morning after. And it would be nice to see what the plow looks like now.
In other words, we getting some conflicting information. Sorting out the factual information from the misinformation, or possible disinformation, is the key. There is a difference. Proving 'disinformation' is always the hardest.
One way to guess is an analysis of where stories about the event are taking viewers/readers. Right now almost all the stories are blaming a drunken cartoonish Russian plow driver. They are also keying on the notion that de Margerie was against isolating Russia with punishing sanctions due to Ukraine, ie, why would a friend of Pooty Poot get rubbed out in Moscow? But there's also this:
Total is a major shareholder in Novatek, Russia's largest independent natural gas producer. The two companies were planning to develop a massive liquified natural gas reserve in Siberia.
But the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine in July prompted Total to suspend buying additional shares in Novatek.So as oil prices crater (less cash for Russia and the Middle East) perhaps Vlad couldn't twist his arm into more positive action. Things are getting strange out there.
Speaking of oil, a few stories are also mentioning de Margerie and Total Oil's roles in the Iraq "Oil for Food" program where he was suspected of helping the Saddam regime sell oil on the underground markets to get around UN/US sanctions, charges of which the company was only recently cleared. But take a look at this from the OFF memory hole and it gets weirder (added emphasis):
Thirty percent of the oil vouchers were issued to beneficiaries in Russia, including individual officials in the president’s office, the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Russian Communist Party, members of the Russian parliament, and the oil firms Lukoil, Gazprom, Zarubezhneft, Sibneft, Rosneft, and Tatneft.
Fifteen percent of the beneficiaries were French, including a former interior minister, the Iraqi-French Friendship Society, and the oil company Total.Yes, both the Russians and French were helping Saddam back in the day so combined with the abovementioned bits of history it would seem to make the West, and not Russia, prime suspects for sabotage. Then again, if something nefarious is up in Russia it doesn't necessarily always have to originate in Putin's office. Their investigations committee is already laying blame! But sometimes accidents just happen--even in Russia.