Monday, May 23, 2016

EGYPTAIR MS804 - Scrambling for Answers

"Solving the mystery of vanished EgyptAir Flight 804" PBS NewsHour 5/19/2016


SUMMARY:  The mysterious disappearance of EgyptAir Flight 804 and its 66 passengers somewhere over the Mediterranean Sea has left the international community scrambling for answers.  For more on what could have happened to the flight, Hari Sreenivasan talks to former National Transportation Safety Board chair Deborah Hersman and former Deputy National Security Adviser Juan Zarate.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  We return to EgyptAir Flight 804 and what could have happened to it.

Deborah Hersman served as chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board from 2009 to 2014 and is now president of the National Safety Council, a nonprofit organization devoted to reducing preventable deaths and injuries.  And Juan Zarate was deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism during the President George W. Bush administration.  He's currently the chairman of the Financial Integrity Network, a consulting firm.

Deborah Hersman, I want to start with you.

At this stage, what are investigators thinking about?  What are they looking for?

DEBORAH HERSMAN, Former Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board:  Really, the first 24 hours, they're focused on response, recovery, and search for the aircraft, and so you can see clearly that's something that was a focus in this investigation.

But you want to gather any perishable evidence that might exist.  You want to make sure you know who needs to be interviewed, that you're able to connect all of the dots very early in the investigation and grab any of that information.

Analyzing the radar data is going to be important, because what they need to do now is pinpoint where that aircraft is, so they can identify not just the aircraft, the parts and take care of the humans, but also get those black boxes, which are really important to the investigation.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Juan Zarate, given what little evidence has come out so far, what are the signs that point to fowl play?

JUAN ZARATE, Former Deputy National Security Adviser:  Well, there aren't many signs.

And part of the reason you want to gather as much data and forensics as possible early on is try to give you clues.  But authorities are indicating there weren't signs in terms of intelligence that a threat was pending or threatening this particular airline or this route.

There has been no claim of responsibility yet, and certainly we don't have any evidence that we have seen physically that would demonstrate this is terrorism.  But we know terrorists have historically targeted aircraft.  It has psychological, human and economic impact.

We know that al-Qaida and ISIS have been perfecting technologies and trying to hit us on aircraft over the years, whether it's the underwear bomb plot out of Yemen, the shoe and liquid bomb plots out of the U.K., or even the downing of the Metrojet, the Russian airliner out of the Sinai by ISIS.

They have been trying to do this.  And they have had expert bomb-makers trying to figure out ways of evading the security technology that we have, Ibrahim al-Asiri, the master bomb-maker in Yemen who has been training individuals for years, as well as the Khorasan group, a senior group of al-Qaida figures in Syria that up to 2014 were trying to perfect non-metallic devices that could get on aircraft.

"Families weep as debris from EgyptAir disaster found in the Mediterranean Sea" PBS NewsHour 5/20/2016


SUMMARY:  Authorities on Friday said they found debris from EgyptAir Flight 804, which a day earlier plunged 38,000 feet into the Mediterranean Sea.  Relatives of the 66 people on the plane mourned as harsh reality set in.  Mystery still surrounds the cause — terrorism or catastrophic mechanical failure?  John Yang reports, and science correspondent Miles O'Brien gives his analysis of what we know so far.

Aviation Herald

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