Saturday, December 4

Egypt Air Jet Disappears Over Mediterranean Sea



On May 19, 2016, EgyptAir flight MS804 from Paris to Cairo disappeared from radar. The aircraft was cruising at an altitude of 37,000 ft (11,277 m) when it went missing. There are reportedly 59 passengers and 10 crew members on board.

According to the airline, contact with the flight was lost around 16 km/10 miles into the Egyptian airspace. Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said that the Egyptian navy and air force are conducting search operations in the area, in coordination with the Greek authorities.

A search is under way for an EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo which has disappeared with 56 passengers and 10 crew on board – including one British national.

The fate of the plane is not yet known and officials have said it is too early to rule out any possibility, including terrorism.

Flight MS804 departed the French capital at 11.09pm (CEST) before vanishing.

The airline said the plane lost contact with radar at 2.45am Cairo time (1.45am BST). It was last in touch 10 minutes earlier.

At that stage the Airbus A320, which was 13 years old and had logged 48,000 flight hours, was about three hours and 40 minutes into the four-hour journey and flying at 37,000ft.

The airline said the plane had been 10 miles into Egyptian airspace, over the Mediterranean Sea, when it disappeared.

However, Egyptian civil aviation authority spokesman Ihab Raslan told Sky News Arabia that it was about to enter Egyptian airspace when it disappeared. He said the plane had most likely crashed into the sea.

Military search and rescue teams picked up an automated signal from the plane’s emergency beacon at 4.26am Cairo time (3.26am BST) – around 80 minutes after it was supposed to land in Cairo. It is thought this may have been triggered on impact.

Thirty Egyptians, 15 French, two Iraqis, a Belgian, Kuwaiti, Saudi, Sudanese, Chadian, Algerian, Portuguese and Canadian are among the passengers which also include one child and two babies.

Greece has joined special teams from the Egyptian armed forces in the search for the jet and deployed one C-130, an early warning aircraft, a frigate and helicopters. France is also sending boats and planes.

All vessels near the Greek island of Karpathos have been asked to help. Bulk carrier Oceanus reported seeing no debris or fuel.

Greek civil aviation authorities said the jet disappeared off its radar two minutes after leaving its airspace. Prior to that, its air traffic controllers spoke to the pilot who reported no problems.

Ahmed Abdel, the vice-chairman of EgyptAir holding company, told CNN there had been no distress calls from the plane.

The New York Times quoted Ehab Mohy el-Deen, the head of Egypt’s air navigation authority, as saying: “They did not radio for help or lose altitude. They just vanished.”

The airline said the plane’s pilot had flown 6,275 hours – including 2,101 hours on the same model – while the co-pilot had done 2,766 hours.

Commercial airline pilot Chris McGee told Sky News there were only two circumstances that would prevent a pilot from contacting air traffic control: “One would be if there was human intervention. The second is something has occurred on the flight deck.

“The first thing you are taught is fly the airplane first, handle the problem, and then communicate. So if you have got your hands full that is potentially why you wouldn’t talk to air traffic.”

A crisis centre offering support to the distressed families with loved ones on board has been set up at Cairo International Airport.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “Following reports that Egypt Air flight MS804 has gone missing en route from Paris to Cairo, we are in urgent contact with the local authorities in Paris and Cairo to obtain further information”

France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls saiid “no theory can be ruled out on the cause of this disappearance”, as President Francois Hollande called a crisis meeting.

Airbus, which delivered the plane to EgyptAir in 2003 said “our concerns go out to all those affected”.