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Plane believed lost as aviation hits spate of disasters

July 25, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59A passenger flight from Algeria with 116 passengers and six crew aboard was reported lost over Mali in Africa, probably crashed, yesterday.

The Air Algerie plane from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso to Algiers was said by aviation websites to have been one of four MD-83s owned by Swiftair.

The plane was reported to have asked to change course because of a storm.

Reuters last night reported an Algerian official as saying: “I can confirm that it has crashed,” but giving no details. Wreckage was reportedly sighted today, with witnesses saying there were no survivors.

Africa is statistically the most dangerous continent in which to fly.

The incident comes as the world rides through an unusual period for air crashes, after many years of steadily improving air safety.

A day earlier, a plane crashed in Taiwan while trying to make an emergency landing, killing 47 people. That flight, operated by TransAsia Airways, crashed while trying to land on an island as a typhoon slammed into Taiwan.

TransAsia Airways flight GE222, a 70-seat turboprop ATR 72, crashed near Magong airport on outlying Penghu island.

The Taiwanese crash and the more recent one in Africa come on the heels of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 being shot down by a surface-to-air missile over Ukraine, which in turn followed the earlier disappearance of MH370 in March, with the presumed loss of everyone aboard.

Reports last night said almost half of the passengers on Air Algerie flight AH5017 were French citizens.

Two French fighter jets were trying to find the airliner along its probable route, a French army spokesman said last night. Sandstorms were reported in the area and a missile strike or shooting from the ground have not been discounted as cause of the crash.

Passengers on the plane were in transit, either for Europe, the Middle East or Canada.

Although the cause of the Algerian plane’s reported crash is not known, the US Federal Aviation Administration had explicitly warned civil aircraft to avoid flying over Mali because of insurgent activity.

The FAA’s Notice to Airmen – or NOTAM – read: 

U.S. OPERATORS AND AIRMEN SHOULD AVOID OPERATING INTO, OUT OF, WITHIN OR OVER MALI AT OR BELOW FL240 DUE TO INSURGENT ACTIVITY. THERE IS RISK TO THE SAFETY OF U.S. CIVIL FLIGHTS OPERATING INTO, OUT OF, WITHIN OR OVER MALI FROM SMALL-ARMS, ROCKETPROPELLED GRENADES, ROCKETS AND MORTARS, AND ANTI-AIRCRAFT FIRE, TO INCLUDE SHOULDER-FIRED, MAN-PORTABLE AIR DEFENSE SYSTEMS.

Written by Peter Needham

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