Plane heading from Paris to Cairo disappears from radar, 66 on board

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EgyptAir Flight 804 heading from Paris to Cairo disappeared from radar with 66 people on board, an airline official said Thursday.

The plane was flying at 37,000 feet when it vanished shortly after entering Egyptian airspace, the airline tweeted.

The Egyptian navy is conducting search and rescue operations in the area.

What we know so far:

The Airbus A320 had 56 passengers and 10 crew members on board, said Capt. Ahmed Adel, a vice chairman at EgyptAir. Passengers included two infants and one child. Earlier, the airline said 69 people were on board.
It left Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport at 11:09 p.m. local time and was supposed to land in Cairo at 3.15 a.m. Thursday. Both the departure and arrival cities are in the same time zone.

It vanished 10 miles into Egyptian airspace, the airline said.

The plane’s captain had 6,000 flying hours while the first officer had 4,000, Adel said.

The Egyptian navy is conducting search and rescue operations in the area it vanished, CNN’s Ian Lee said from Cairo. Armed forces are searching the area 40 miles north of Egyptian coastline.

There was no special cargo on the flight and no notification of any dangerous goods aboard, Adel said.

The plane entered EgyptAir’s service on November 3, 2003, he added.
Analysts weigh in

CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest said the plane vanished while cruising — the safest part of the journey.

“Planes just do not fall out of the sky for no reason, particularly at 37,000 feet,” he said.

The fact that it entered Egypt airspace and did not report in is highly significant, CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo added.

“Since they were 10 miles into Egypt airspace, they should have reported in. If anything had been going on they would have reported at that time,” she said.
Experts said while it’s too early to determine what happened, the first priority is to find survivors.

“Find the plane, find the people, see if there are folks that could be rescued,” said David Soucie, a CNN aviation safety analyst.

“Safety people are looking at safety issues, maintenance people looking at maintenance issues, security people looking at security issues.”
Weather conditions

Conditions were clear and calm when the plane crossed over the Mediterranean Sea, according to CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.

“The area in question in the eastern Mediterranean is currently under clear skies, but computer models suggest a storm system may impact the region as early as Friday afternoon,” he said.

“Once the plane reached the Adriatic Sea, several hours into its journey, clouds were beginning to clear and it remained that way for at least another 1-2 hours before the plane’s final known location.”

If there are any survivors, there’s still a window to save them.

“The water temperatures in the eastern Mediterranean near Egypt are in the low 20s Celsius [mid to low 70s Fahrenheit],” Javaheri said.

“Survival times in such waters range from 2-7 hours for the elderly or individuals in poor health, while they range anywhere from 2 to 40 hours for healthier individuals.”