Within a matter of hours between Wednesday afternoon and this morning, two unexplained fatal aircraft crashes – one an Antonov An-12 cargo plane, the other an EgyptAir A320 passenger aircraft – have shaken the aviation industry, sending investigators scrambling to find the causes.
On the afternoon of Wed., May 18, the An-12 freighter, owned by Baku-based Silk Way Airlines, crashed shortly after takeoff from Dwyer Airport in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, killing seven of the nine crew members on board. According to Azerbaijani aviation officials, both survivors were technicians from Ukraine; the deceased crew members are believed to include five Azerbaijanis, one Ukrainian and one Uzbek, the captain of the aircraft.
The four-engined, propeller-driven An-12 had flown in from Bagram Air Force Base and was headed to Mary International Airport in Turkmenistan for refueling when the crash occurred. No cargo was aboard the aircraft, and no cause has yet been determined from the early investigation.
The Silk Way An-12 had been reportedly leased to another carrier, but details were not yet available.
Meanwhile, early this morning, EgyptAir Flight 804, flying from Paris to Cairo, disappeared soon after crossing into Egyptian airspace over the Mediterranean. Later in the day, French and Egyptian officals located floating wreckage of the A320 and determined that all 56 passengers and 10 crew members perished.
Because the otherwise routine flight suffered a sudden disturbance at 37,000 feet with no communication from the crew before it plunged into the sea, some aviation officials have suspected that a bomb took down the EgyptAir jet, perhaps as an act of terrorism. Investigators and EgyptAir officials, however, have said it’s far too early to determine a cause.
Speculation, however, is rampant. French newspaper Le Figaro quoted a French border police source as saying that the ground crew at Flight 804’s source, Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, are under investigation for potential security breaches. According to the source, also reported by the BBC, there have been a number of reports that suspected terrorists had connections to the ground handling operations at the airport, but nothing has yet been confirmed.
Last November, Russian investigators confirmed that a homemade bomb brought down a Metrojet airliner in October 2015 over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula shortly after taking off from Sharm el-Sheikh airport.