Mysterious plane crash under investigation

Egyptair Flight 804 was flying from Paris to Cairo when it disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea
An Egyptair Airbus 321 similar to this one was lost early Thursday morning. (Alpiee | Dreamstime.com)


Early Thursday morning (at about 2:45am Paris time), an Egyptair plane crashed into the Mediterranean Sea. The plane, marked Flight 804, was carrying 66 passengers from Paris, France to the Egyptian capital of Cairo. Canadian Foreign Affairs minister Stéphane Dion confirmed that there were two Canadians on board the flight. No one has survived the crash.

Plane disappeared from radar

flight-804
This diagram shows the path of Egyptair Flight 804. It was close to its destination of Cairo before it disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea. (Courtesy of the Canadian Press)

Air traffic controllers use radar and radio contact to keep track of flights leaving and approaching their airport, as well as ones flying near their airspace (that's the sky nearby). They observe the path of the flight, speak with the pilot periodically to make sure everything is OK, and offer assistance if the flight is in distress. Everything about Flight 804 was going as normal until the plane began to swerve wildly and descend quickly. At the time, it was in Greek airspace. The Greek air traffic controllers noticed the unusual flight path and repeatedly attempted to contact the plane. There was no reply and no distress call was made by the pilot. The plane disappeared from radar shortly after that.

Wreckage found

Starting later Thursday, Egyptian and Greek boats conducted an immediate search of the area where Flight 804 was last heard from. This search effort even included help from a satellite controlled by the European Space Agency, which took photos of the air to search for clues. The searchers have since found floating debris, or pieces of wreckage, from the plane.

The cause is still unknown

Because terrorism is such a common concern these days, many people are concluding that such an act is what caused this plane crash. Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi admitted that he felt that it was more likely that the plane was brought down by an act of terror than "a technical failure." But other investigators and experts and cautioning people against making quick assumptions. Alain Vidalies, France's junior minister for transport, asked the public to use "the greatest caution" when thinking about how this happened. In the mean time, the presidents of Egypt and France have joined together in expressing sadness over the tragedy and a willingness to discover the truth of what happened.


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