Early Thursday morning, EgyptAir Flight 804 - an Airbus A320 - went missing from radar over the Mediterranean Sea. The plane was carrying 66 passengers and crew members and was traveling from Paris to Cairo. On Friday, the Egyptian military announced that debris from the missing plane, including seats, suitcases and body parts, were found about 180 miles north of Alexandria, Egypt. Egyptian military spokesman Brig. Gen. Mohammad Samir stated, “The searching, sweeping and the retrieval process is underway.”
At this time, it is speculated that the crash may have been an act of terrorism. Greek officials said that before the plane dropped off of radar it swerved 90 degrees to the left and then made a 360-degree turn. The plane then dropped to 15,000 feet and then to 10,000 feet, finally disappearing from radar. Because of these sudden changes, Egyptian officials are saying that terror may be the likely cause of the plane’s crash. A senior Egyptian official said of the crash, “The nature of the way the plane went down – the way it veered and then fell out of the sky leads us to believe this.” U.S officials told CNN that the swerving of the plane was probably pieces of the aircraft falling from the sky that was picked up on radar. After checking the passenger manifest, no hits have been found on the terror watch lists. No mayday call was sent from the pilots before the plane went down.
Currently, there has been no evidence found that would implicate the flight crew in the crash. Smoke alerts went off aboard the plane just minutes before it crashed into the sea. The Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) said that a screenshot of data has time stamps that matched the time that the plane went down and information about smoke and heat on a window near the co-pilot and the lavatory. The data also indicates that there may have been problems with controls and computers aboard the plane. ACARS is a data link that sends messages between planes and ground facilities. CNN aviation analyst David Soucie said that “If there’s fire on board the aircraft, in this area which the ACARS indicates, then something was close to the cockpit. It could have been either something mechanical that had failed, a short circuit, or it could have been an incendiary device of some kind as well.”
Former National Transportation Safety Board investigator Greg Feith said that because the smoke warning was just before the plane went down that it suggests something more catastrophic than an electrical fire or a cigarette. Feith said, “Electrical fires don’t burn that fast, and of course if somebody were to put a cigarette in a trash can with paper towels it definitely wouldn’t have burned that fast. It would have set off the sensor but the flight crew is trained to handle those types of fires and it would have given them time. Plus, they probably would have made a radio call.” Investigators are looking into anyone that may have had access to the plane while still on the ground at the airport.