This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Mystery Waiting To Be Solved in Egypt

"The question now is whether the fire that caused the smoke was the result of an electrical fault – for example a short-circuit caused by damaged wiring – or whether some form of explosive or incendiary device was used."
David Learmount, aviation expert, editor,  Flightglobal magazine

"If they lost the aircraft within three minutes that’s very, very quick. They were dealing with an extremely serious incident."
"Fires happen aboard aircraft, but they don’t usually result in the destruction of the aircraft in three minutes."
Philip Baum, aviation security expert
MS804 map

EgyptAir plane's flights on Wednesday 18 May

MS834 - Asmara to Cairo (Departed at 05:53 local time)
MS843 - Cairo to Tunis (09:28)
MS844 - Tunis to Cairo (14:47)
MS803 - Cairo to Paris (18:26)
MS804 - Paris to Cairo (23:09)
Two years earlier, EgyptAir's Flight 804 aircraft had been involved in a threat directed at the government of Egypt, warning "We will bring this plane down", written on the jetliner on its underside, in Arabic. At that time, it was 'political vandals' who were accused of sowing terror in the wake of the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi as President of Egypt. The graffiti was placed on the aircraft by aviation workers at Cairo Airport.

The plane's registration, SU-GCC was used as a phonetic link with the surname of Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, Egypt's current president. Whom some of the workers identified by writing on the aircraft: "traitor" and "murderer", obviously referring to the violent crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood supporters occasioned by Brotherhood-supporters staging explosive protests against the removal of the Brotherhood by the military, led by el-Sissi, responding to popular Egyptian demand.

That threat had been responsible for the airline placing a variety of new security measures into effect. The political turmoil in 2013 demanded such a response, as did the growing jihadi violence, led at first by the threats in the Sinai from Bedouin Salafists, by al-Qaeda-linked militias, and later the emergence of links to Islamic State in the Sinai region. The bombing aboard a Russian plane killing 224 people in October of 2015 increased vigilance and concern, leading to stepped-up crew searches.

Unarmed, in-flight security guards were considered a needed response to the ongoing threats, and three were aboard Flight 804, tasked with dealing with unruly passengers and being responsible to search workers who clean the plane, and checking crew member credentials at foreign airport stopovers. They do not, however, monitor baggage handlers loading the plane's hold in Europe since this is left to local handlers by agreement.

Since European airports do not permit EgyptAir security details to search local cleaning workers, it is now left to French authorities to question the Paris airport staff with access to the plane, including the cleaning crews. Particularly given the theory that a bomb could have been placed in the plane while on the Paris tarmac. Even earlier at one of the two African airports the plane had stopped at, in previous days.

It was noted by Sylvain Prevost, a trainer for Paris airport personnel, that workers have been known to have been threatened in the past, into co-operating with criminals. Whatever the efforts undertaken to secure the safety of an aircraft and the well-being of all aboard there are always ways to be found where vulnerabilities can be breached.

Athens-based air traffic controllers had attempted to contact the EgyptAir flight in a routine handing over of monitoring from Greek to Egyptian authorities. Repeated calls elicited no response. Simultaneously, a sensor detected smoke reaching the plane's network of computers and wires controlling the plane. And two minutes afterward, Egyptian airspace was reached and alarms blared.

Within seconds of those alarms warning of the plane's autopilot and wing control systems facing serious structural problems, radar contact was lost. "It just leads us into an area where smoke is a major contributor to the incident, either by destroying the aircraft’s equipment or suffocating the pilots", said Egyptian aviation expert Hossam Elhamy Shaker.

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