Yesterday, EgyptAir 804, en route to Cairo from Paris and carrying 66 persons, abruptly swerved and went off radar. It’d made a 90-degree turn and then sunk from 37,000 feet to 15,000 feet, swerved 360-degrees, before disappearing off the system. A massive search all along the Mediterranean region has just revealed debris from MS804, 10 miles from the last known position of the plane.
While speculation is rife that this is likely a terrorist attack, the black boxes will reveal what precisely happened to the plane.
Over 100 planes currently declared missing in the world since 1938. While most of them occurred in the early years of aviation, there’s an average of 1 plane going missing every 2 years in the last three decades. Here are a few that have remained on our minds.
Malaysian Airlines MH370
The mysterious disappearance of the commercial flight on 8 March 2014, with 239 on board, remains a big mystery to all. MH370 last made air traffic contact in the wee hours of the morning over the South China Sea before it disappeared from radar presence and headed westwards, away from its flight path. This was later determined from military radar information, and contact was lost when it crossed over the Andaman Sea, when it turned south after passing Sumatra. No distress signal was issued by the plane. A flaperon washed up on Reunion Island in July 2015, and other small pieces have been found, but the main body remains missing and relatives of the missing still await news on the passengers. As Australia completes its search of the southern Indian Ocean with no luck, chances of discovery grow slimmer.
Aerospace Sales & Leasing, Boeing 727, Angola
American pilot Ben Charles Padilla flew the plane which had been parked at Quatro de Fevereiro airport in Luanda, Angola for 14 months on lease to TAAG Angola Airlines. With a Congolese mechanic, the two technically stole the plane and took off from the runway without clearance, with its transponder switched off. Since then, neither the plane nor the two men have been seen. The plane, outfitted to carry diesel, remains one of the most baffling instances of a disappearance without any trace.
Merpati Airlines Flight 6715
The Indonesian airline, known for its affordable local fares, was on a flight from Bima to Ruteng with 14 on board when it went missing, presumably somewhere along the Molo Strait. As weather conditions were poor, it’s believed to have crashed in the strait.
Pakistan Airlines Flight 404
Pakistan Airlines is not exactly the best regarded for its safety record, but flight 404 was a true mystery. Having taken off just 4 minutes, one of the pilots of the Fokker F27 Friendship plane made a call to the control tower. It was never heard or seen from again. The plane was thought to have crashed in the Himalayas but no wreckage has ever been found. Military and civilian forces spent days looking for any evidence at the 8,000 metre high mountain range. It was unexpected because this was a routine flight from Gilgit to Islamabad. And although the number is used in website codes to indicate a non-existing page, there’s no immediate reference to the flight – it’s a coincidence, but perhaps also a tribute to the lost plane.