Greece on Thursday afternoon scaled back its participation in a search for an EgyptAir plane which had communicated with Greek air traffic controllers earlier in the day after Egyptian authorities said they had found parts of the airplane’s wreckage in the sea.
EgyptAir Flight 804 from Paris to Cairo, which was carrying 56 passengers and 10 crew members, entered Greek air space at 2.24 a.m. Twenty minutes later, the pilot spoke with Greek air traffic controllers without indicating that there was a problem. According to Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority sources, the pilot sounded cheerful and thanked the air traffic controllers in Greek. At 3.27 a.m., the Greek controllers attempted to contact the aircraft again, without success, and the plane slipped off the radar two minutes later.
Greece sent two planes – a C-130 and an early warning aircraft – to the area, some 210 nautical miles southeast of Crete. A navy frigate was also sent to the scene and two Super Puma rescue helicopters were sent to Karpathos.
Addressing a press conference, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said the aircraft “swerved” after entering Egyptian air space. It “swerved 90 degrees left and then 360 degrees to the right,” he said, adding that the plane then descended from 37,000 feet to 15,000 feet, before disappearing from the radar at an altitude of 9,000 feet.
In the early afternoon, an Egyptian aircraft found parts of the EgyptAir plane in international waters.