By Lizzie Dearden;Independent
Airbus has confirmed that missing flight MS804 has crashed into the Mediterranean Sea.
The manufacturer said the A320 operated by EgyptAir “was lost” at around 2.30am local time during its scheduled flight from Paris to Cairo.
“Our concerns go to all those affected,” a spokesperson said. “In line with ICAO annex 13, Airbus stands-by ready to provide full technical assistance to French Investigation Agency – BEA – and to the Authorities in charge of the investigation.”
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The aircraft involved, registration SU-GCC, had recently flown to Tunis, in Tunisia, Asmara, in Eritrea, Brussels, in Belgium, Alexandria, in Egypt, and Beirut in Lebanon.
Airbus said it was delivered to EgyptAir from the production line in November 2003 and had accumulated approximately 48,000 flight hours.
The first A320 entered service in March 1988 and more than 6,700 of the aircraft are in operation worldwide.
EgyptAir flight 804 disappeared from radar at 2.30am local time (1.30am BST), shortly after entering Egyptian airspace, having taken off three-and-a-half hours earlier from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.
The airline said 66 people were on board, including 30 Egyptians, 15 French passengers, two Iraqis, and one passenger from Britain, Sudan, Chad, Portugal, Algeria, Canada, Belgium, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
A child and two babies were among the passengers, who were accompanied by three security officers.
Crisis centres have been set up for families at Cairo International Airport and Charles de Gaulle as search missions continue in the Mediterranean.
Civilian boats were joining efforts by Egyptian and Greek ships and planes south of the island of Karpathos, near where the captain of a merchant ship reported seeing a “flame in the sky”.
The Egyptian military said no distress call was made but the airline later tweeted that official sources later said an automatic “signal” was received from the plane.
The weather was clear at the time the plane disappeared, according to weather reports, and EgyptAir said the experienced crew included a pilot with 6,275 hours of flying experience, including 2,101 hours on the A320.
The French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, said France was ruling nothing out as speculation continued over a possible terror attack.
“We are in close contact with the Egyptian authorities, both civil and military,” he added. “The Egyptian authorities have already sent air reconnaissance teams to the site, and France is ready to help with the search if the Egyptian authorities ask. At this stage, no theory can be ruled out regarding the causes of the disappearance.”
Under UN aviation rules, Egypt will automatically lead an investigation into the accident assisted by countries including France.