Chinedu Eze with agency reports
Aviation security experts have strongly suspected that the EgyptAir flight that crashed in the Mediterranean Sea yesterday was more likely brought down by a terror attack than technical problems.
This was also the position of Egypt’s aviation Minister who indicated that the ill-fated aircraft was airworthy before embarking on the flight.
The Airbus 320 was carrying 66 passengers and crew on a trip from Paris to Cairo when it disappeared from radar, Egypt’s national airline said.
According to AP/Yahoo! report, Greek searchers have located floating debris, just as UK-based The Telegraph reported that investigators have started examining CCTV footage from the airport in an attempt to identify those who had access to the plane while it was on the ground, police sources said.
“There is no confirmation that the airliner was downed by a terrorist attack, but the investigation is already under way just in case.
“They are looking for any sign of suspicious behaviour and checking people’s identities,” a source said.
Paris prosecutors have opened an investigation and no theories are being ruled out.
If terrorism is confirmed, the authorities would have serious questions to answer about security at the airport, which was stepped up after the Paris attacks in November, and further strengthened after suicide bombings at Brussels airport in March.
Officials with the airline and the Egyptian civil aviation department said they believed the Airbus A320 had crashed into the sea, Reuters has reported.
Egypt Air said the plane sent an emergency signal – possibly from an emergency beacon attached to the plane – at 04:26, two hours after it disappeared from radar screens.
The souls on board the flight included 30 Egyptian and 15 French nationals, along with nationals from 10 other countries.
“The theory that the plane crashed and fell is now confirmed after the preliminary search and after it did not arrive at any of the nearby airports,” said a senior aviation individual, who declined to be identified.
“All causes for the disaster are open, whether it is a major technical fault or a terrorist action or any other circumstance. This will be ascertained when we inspect the plane’s wreckage and transcribe its black boxes.”
Families of passengers and the Egyptian Prime Minister rushed to Cairo Airport shortly after dawn while the Egyptian and Greek military scrambled aircraft and boats to search for the plane.
The airline said on its Twitter account that flight MS804 departed Paris at 23:09 (CEST). It disappeared at 02:30 at an altitude of 37,000 feet (11,280 m) in Egyptian air space, 280 km (165 miles) from the Egyptian coastline, before it was due to land at 03:15, the airline said.
“There was nothing unusual,” EgyptAir vice chairman, Ahmed Adel, told Reuters. “The search and rescue aircraft from the Egyptian Air Force are at the position where we lost contact. They are still looking and so far there is nothing found.”
Egyptian state newspaper Ahram, reported no distress call was made and the last contact was 10 minutes before the plane disappeared.
The pilot had 6,275 hours of flying experience, including 2,101 hours on the A320, while the first officer had 2,766 hours, the airline said.
Greek air traffic controllers spoke to the pilot over the island of Kea, in what was thought to be the last broadcast from the aircraft.
“The pilot did not mention any problems,” the head of Greece’s civil aviation department, Kostas Litzerakis said.
However, during the transfer to Cairo airspace, Greek controllers were unable to reach the pilot and the plane vanished from their radars shortly after leaving Greek airspace, he added.
Greece said it had deployed aircraft and a frigate to the area to help with the search.
Authorities are investigating an account from the captain of a merchant ship who reported a ‘flame in the sky’ some 130 nautical miles south of the island of Karpathos.
This crash will further undermine Egypt tourism, which is the mainstay of the country economy.
Last year Russia airline exploded at Sharm El Sheik immediately after take and investigation point to insider’s job and about a month ago EgyptAir flight was hijacked and forced to land in Cyprus, when a man suspected to be mentally ill forced the pilot of the flight to land.
Since the Egyptian revolution that ousted former President, Hosni Mubarak, Egypt has faced hard time as tourists from Europe and Americas seek for adventures elsewhere.