May 19, 2016

TERRIFIC! EgyptAir Flight MS804 From Paris To Cairo Disappears From Radar

An EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo has disappeared from radar with 66 people on board, the airline says.
The Airbus A320 went missing over the eastern Mediterranean, soon after entering Egyptian airspace.

The Egyptian military has denied a report from EgyptAir that a distress signal was sent by the plane.
There were 56 passengers – including three children – seven crew members and three security personnel on board Flight MS804, the airline said.

The airline said the passengers included 30 Egyptians, 15 French citizens, one Briton, two Iraqis, as well as people from Canada, Belgium, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Sudan, Chad and Portugal.

Flight MS804 left Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport at 23:09 local time on Wednesday (21:09 GMT) and was scheduled to arrive in the Egyptian capital soon after 03:15 local time on Thursday.
It was flying at 37,000ft (11,300m) over the eastern Mediterranean when contact was lost, at 02:30 Cairo time (00:30 GMT).

In what is thought to have been the last known contact with the plane, Greek air traffic controllers spoke to the pilot over the island of Kea, just south-east of Athens, and he “did not mention any problems”, Kostas Litzerakis of Greece’s civil aviation department told Reuters news agency.

A Greek aviation official told the AFP news agency that the plane crashed “around 130 nautical miles” off the southern Greek island of Karpathos, although this has not been confirmed.
Both the Greek and Egyptian armed forces are involved in the search for the plane. France says it is sending boats and planes to help in the operation.

There was some confusion over whether a distress signal was sent by the plane.
Egypt’s state-run newspaper al-Ahram quoted an EgyptAir statement as saying the Egyptian army’s rescue and search had received a distress call from the plane at 04:26 local time – which would be around two hours after the flight disappeared.

But the Egypt’s military subsequently said that no such signal was received.
Airbus, in a statement on it’s Facebook page, confirmed “the loss” of the 13-year-old plane, saying “our concerns go to all those affected”.
Spotlight falls on French security: Analysis by Hugh Schofield in Paris

If this turns out to be a terrorist attack, then eyes will turn first of all to Charles de Gaulle airport, from where Flight MS804 took off on Wednesday night. Could there have been a breach of security allowing a device to be smuggled on board?

Security at Charles de Gaulle, which was already tight, has been tightened even further since the Paris attacks in January 2015 and last November. There is the visible security, with soldiers on patrol, but more important is what is not seen – the monitoring of passengers and staff.

One weak point identified in recent years has been the large number of flight-side workers who come from high-immigrant areas of the Paris suburbs. Last year there was a security review of the 86,000 workers with authorisation to go flight-side. More than 60 had their authorisation withdrawn because of fears of Islamic radicalisation.

Of course, the investigation will also look at another possibility – that the device, if there was one, was smuggled on elsewhere.

Source: BBC

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