Was EgyptAir Flight 804 Hijacked?

by Karen Yuan

Early Thursday, on its way from Paris to Cairo, EgyptAir flight 804 disappeared after entering the Egyptian airspace. Many after hearing this may wonder whether EgyptAir Flight 804 was hijacked. While the cause of EgyptAir's disappearance is still unknown, there are a number of aviation and international officials who have indicated that terrorism could be the cause of the plane's disappearance.

Officials are not ignoring the possibility of hijacking. Egypt's Minister of Aviation Sherif Fathy told The Telegraph on Thursday that "If you analyze the situation properly, the possibility of having a terror attack is higher than the possibility of having a technical fault.” France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls echoed him, saying "We are not ruling out any hypothesis."

A timeline of EgyptAir flight 804 right before its disappearance is known, at least partially, as well. About half an hour before becoming unresponsive to signals, the pilot seemed to act fine, with no signs of distress, let alone hijacking, which makes the question even more of an enigma. Leaving Greek airspace, the pilot was reportedly "in good spirits and thanked the controller in Greek," according to a Reuters report.

But the circumstances surrounding the plane's last minutes are concerning. Greece's defence minister Panos Kammenos said at a news conference that its behavior was erratic: "The plane carried out a 90-degree turn to the left and a 360-degree turn to the right, falling from 37,000 to 15,000 feet and the signal was lost at around 10,000 feet." Despite sharply swerving twice and falling 22,000 feet, no distress signal was made, which was highly unusual.

What's more, there are reports, admittedly unverified, of Greek residents claiming to have seen a "fireball trail across the sky" around the time and area of the plane's disappearance. Aviation safety consultant Keith Mackey told Al Jazeera, "When a plane disappears suddenly like this you certainly cannot rule out terrorism or an explosion onboard the aircraft."

More clues to the cause of Flight 804's disappearance have surfaced, including the discovery of two pieces of orange debris that are believed to be from the plane, according to a Greek military official who spoke to the AP.