[PeterPaul.ca] — An oil slick picked up by a satellite in space in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea is presumed to be from a missing EgyptAir flight that disappeared from radar on Thursday, the European Space Agency [ESA] said in a statement.
“ESA has given information related to the image to the relevant authorities to support the search operations,” the statement read.
The oil slick was discovered hours after the planes disappearance by the ESA’s Sentinel-1A satellite, launched in 2014 to monitor oil spills and respond to emergencies like earthquakes and floods.
The slick has drifted about 5 kilomeres, according to images from Friday morning. The area is located about 40 km southeast of the last known location of the aircraft and measures about two kilometres long.
ESA urged caution, saying there is “no guarantee that the slick is from the missing aircraft.” Another satellite, the Sentinel-2A, will pass over the area on May 22 and experts will continue to study images, the space agency said.
Flight MS804 had 66 people on board — 56 passengers, seven crew and three security officials–when it went missing over the Mediterranean in the early morning hours of May 19 during a flight between Paris and Cairo.
Concerned family members can get the latest information by calling 080077770000 from Egypt or + 202 25989320 from outside Egypt.
Two Canadians were on the flight, which conflicted with EgyptAir information saying only one Canadian was aboard MS804. “Based on the information currently available, we confirm that two Canadian citizens are among the passengers on this flight,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion. There were also 30 Egyptians, 15 French and 2 Iraqis among those on board, the airline said.
The airline said the captain in command of flight 804 had 6,275 flight hours including 2,101 hours on the A320 model, the same type used on MS804’s route. The co-pilot has 2,766 flight hours on the A320–still considered one of the most technologically-advanced passenger jets ever built. It was the first passenger jet to feature fly-by-wire technology which helped lighten the workload on the flight crew.
It is unclear at press time what caused the disappearance of flight MS804 but media speculation is rampant. So much so that EgyptAir warned media outlets on speculating on the cause of the incident before the investigation was complete.
The airline also denied “misleading” media reports in a statement. “EgyptAir denies all misleading information published by news websites and on the social media channels regarding the reasons of the disappearance of EgyptAir flight MS804,” the statement read. “The company confirms that the reason of (the) disappearance hasn’t been yet confirmed.”
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board told PeterPaul.ca in a telephone interview Thursday that since the disappearance, they have been in contact with Pratt and Whitney, the A320’s engine manufacturer, but did not deploy a Go Team. “We will assist the Egyptians as necessary,” the official said.