A flight to Cairo that departed from Paris, France last Thursday disappeared from radars 45 minutes before the arrival expected time in Egypt. The flight MS804, of EgyptAir Airlines was last seen in radars over the Mediterranean Sea. However, its debris were found later by authorities near Alexandria. The airline stated that a wreckage of the airplane was produced and some airplane seats, luggage, and other passengers’ belongings were found. Human remains were also found by the Egyptian Navy.
EgyptAir is the national airline of Egypt and its headquarters are in Cairo. Additionally EgyptAir is also an airline member of the Star Alliance. It is a public company, owned by the Egyptian government entirely and it operates around the world, with regular flights in Europe, Africa, Middle East, United States, Canada and Australia. Is the second largest airline in Africa, after South African Airways. The airline exists since the 1930s as Misr Airwork. The airline went through an economic crisis since Egypt’s 2011 revolution, losing almost $1 billion with the decrease in the tourism industry in the country.
Most aircraft currently at service on EgyptAir are modern Boeings and Airbuses, with an average age of 7,6 years old. Last recorded wreckage of an EgyptAir plane was in 2002, an accident while landing in Tunisia, where only 14 out of the 62 passengers died.
What happened to the flight from Paris to Cairo?
The flight MS804 took off from Paris, specifically from the Charles de Gaulle airport on Wednesday, around 11:00 pm. It was supposed to arrive in Cairo on Thursday at 3:15 am. At 1:00 am the airplane entered Greek airspace with regular conditions. but just before the exit of the Greek airspace the plane crew stopped responding the air traffic controllers. Several calls went unanswered and the flight disappeared from radars around 2:30 am, just after entering Egyptian airspace.
At 2:45 am Greek officials started a search and rescue operation and almost 16 hours later the airline, EgyptAir reported that wreckage of what seemed to be the flight MS804 was found near Karpathos, Greece. However, greek authorities denied such report, stating that the debris found were not of an aircraft. So far, what happened with the flight was still a mystery.
It was on Friday, around noon, that Egyptian authorities revealed that parts of debris from the plane were found 180 miles north of Alexandria, the second largest city of Egypt, a region that extends along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
An informed source at EGYPTAIR stated that Flight no MS804,which departed Paris at 23:09 (CEST),heading to Cairo has disappeared from radar.
— EGYPTAIR (@EGYPTAIR) May 19, 2016
Egyptian military involved
Even though the first authorities that responded to the missing plane were Greek, with the rescue teams and specialized search staff, since the flight disappeared off radars just before the exit of the Greece’s airspace; Egypt immediately started looking for the debris of the plane. The Civil Aviation Ministry ordered Egyptian military and marine forces to begin search missions in the Mediterranean Sea.
Greece’s defense minister said that Egyptian officials found a body part in the coast of Alexandria, but it was 3 hours after this claim that the Egyptian Navy said human remains, along with debris from the aircraft and plane seats were found in a press release published in the official website of the Civil Aviation Ministry. Shortly after the airline replicated the information on Twitter.
On Saturday, Egypt’s military authorities released photos of the debris collected by officials in the search operation. Seat parts and lifejackets can be seen. The aircraft was in Tunisia and Eritrea before landing in France.
As the protocol in aircraft’s wrecking commands, an investigation is being executed by Egyptian authorities with the support of experts from France, the United States and the United Kingdom. There is a search team checking a 5,000 square-mile area of the Mediterranean Sea in order to find the black box, the device that contains the voice recordings and the data readings.
The cabin crew was quite experienced, according to the airline’s statements. The pilot, Mohamed Shoukair, 36 years old, had about 6,000 hours of flight experience. He had worked with EgyptAir since 2004. 3 out of 10 crew members aboard the flight were security staff.
Specialized investigators revealed on Saturday that smoke was detected in the aircraft during the flight, which can be a relevant piece of information for the investigation. Reporters have asked authorities if a terrorist attack could be involved, and the possibility is not ruled out. However, details available are not enough to determine the cause of the wrecking yet.
The aircraft was an airbus A320, a model mostly used for short or medium length journeys. Experts stated that this particular aircraft is very common, since around 4,000 planes are currently in operation across the world, and they have a strong safety record. The president of the International Bureau of Aviation said that the Airbus A320 is safer than most aircraft in the market. The last fatal crash with an Airbus A320 was last year, where Flight 9525 that departed from Barcelona, crashed in France before being able to land in Dusseldorf.
56 Passengers disappeared from flight MS804
Along with the 10 members of the crew, 56 passengers were on board the wrecked aircraft. 30 passengers were Egyptian and 15 were french nationals. While the rest of the passengers came from Iraq, Algeria, Belgium, Canada, Chad, Kuwait, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and the United Kingdom.
Wreckage of EgyptAir flight MS804 has been found near Greek island of Karpathos, Egyptian aviation officials confirm https://t.co/kKgfBQTvJG
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) May 19, 2016
One of the Egyptian passengers was Ahmed Helal, 40 years old, was the director of Procter & Gamble franchise in Amiens, France. A Franco-Algerian family was on board, traveling to Egypt for a family vacation. Marwa Hamdy, a Canadian mother of 3 children and project manager at IBM. A famous french photographer, Pascal Hess, was also on the flight. Sahar Khoga, a Saudi Arabia’s embassy worker was on board as well.
The airline posted, both in English and Arabic, in the official web page the following announcement:
EGYPTAIR offers its sympathy and condolences to all those touched by the tragic loss of flight MS804. We have made arrangements to host the families of the passengers and cabin crew of the missing plane and have established a Family Assistance Center in a hotel close to Cairo International Airport and we will continue providing our support to the families at this very difficult time.
Source: Huffington Post