An EgyptAir plane that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea this week was flying in one of the most congested air traffic spaces in the world, and one created by nearby conflicts.
After Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was downed over Ukraine in July 2014, the main routes between Europe, the Middle East, and Asia were diverted south to fly over Greece, Turkey, and across the eastern Mediterranean into Egyptian airspace, adding long-haul services to airspace already crammed with flights between Europe and the eastern Mediterranean, like the doomed EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo.
According to The Daily Beast, the corridor became even more crowded when airspace around the Sinai region was ruled too dangerous to fly after the crash of a Russian Metrojet plane in October.
While it is still too early to say what happened to EgyptAir Flight MS804, it is more likely the plane was brought down by a deliberate act, such as terrorism, than by a technical fault.
The flight, which was carrying 56 passengers and 10 crew, was lost from radar at 2:30am local time when it was flying at 37,000 feet south of the Greek Kassos and Karpathos islands and in Egyptian airspace. But crucially, the plane issued no distress signal whilst in the air, suggesting there hadn’t been a technical fault with the aircraft at the time of the accident.
However, according to Greece's civil aviation chief, calls from Greek air traffic controllers to flight MS804 went unanswered just before it left Greek airspace, and it disappeared from radar screens soon afterwards.
While most of the passengers were Egyptian and French nationals, one Australian has been confirmed among those on board.
In a statement, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the Federal Government was working with UK authorities to provide assistance to the family of the man, who has not been named.
Although the Airbus A320 has been involved in several high profile incidents in recent years, most notably an AirAsia A320 accident in December 2014 and a Germanwings crash in March 2015, experts believe it to be one of the safest commercial jetliners in the world.
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