By Sam Shikora (Political Editor).
The world’s travelers have been lucky enough to enjoy fairly safe skies in the last two years, even since the rise of ISIS. However, recent developments in the aviation world are changing that.
On May 19th, in the early hours of the morning, EgyptAir Flight 804, originating from Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, crashed into the ocean just outside of its destination of Cairo International Airport.
The 12-year-old Airbus A320 did a 360-degree turn just before losing radar contact with Greek officials while in the country’s airspace. In the 22,000 ft. plunge, all 66 crew members and passengers perished. Three of the passengers on board were children, including two infants.
Just after the aircraft was downed, two US officials reported that they believe that a bomb was responsible for the plane’s demise.
This is consistent with the plane’s communications log, as just before the plane lost all contact with the Greek tower, the plane’s automated communications system reported that smoke was found in the lavatory and within the plane’s computers.
However, EgyptAir’s vice chairman Ahmed Adel warns not to jump to conclusions so quickly. “Any high velocity impact leads to defragmentations, and this is not indicative of what caused the accident.”
Despite Adel’s statements, the United States Department of State issued a warning of its own regarding travel within Europe. “The large number of tourists visiting Europe in the summer months will present greater targets for terrorists planning attacks in public locations, especially at large events,” it said.
The plane’s full fuselage has not been found yet, and if a bomb truly did cause the plane to crash, it is likely that it won’t be found in a very recognizable state. However, some debris, including life jackets, some pieces of the A320’s frame, and the personal belongings of passengers have been found.
According to Adel, some human remains have also been found, and are currently being processed for their DNA to determine who has perished.
However, one of the most important debris, the “black-box” flight recorder, is still missing. Unless a terrorist group claims responsibility, it is unlikely that we will find out why the plane went down until the black box is found.
While the black boxes do make themselves easier to find by transmitting a sonar ping, the clock is ticking to find them. On May 31st, a French vessel in the Mediterranean discovered radio distress signals, possibly from the A320’s black box. If this signal is indeed from the plane’s black box, the chances of it being found are greatly increased. However, even with the assistance of the sonar ping, weeks may pass until the black box is found.
“The investigators are up against the clock,” said aviation analyst Justin Green. “If they don’t find the black boxes in the next 30 days the job of finding them is going to be much harder.”
No group has claimed responsibility for the downing of the plane thus far, so it’s unlikely to think that a terrorist group planted a bomb. Especially with the discovery of the black box ping, it is likely that more developments will occur in the coming days and weeks.