An Air Algerie plane crashed on Thursday, July 24, killing all 116 aboard. Flight 5017, a MD-83, disappeared from radar during a rainstorm while en route from Ouagadougou to Algiers. The French military located the wreckage in Mali and retrieved the “black boxes.” There were no Americans on board.
The cause of the crash has not been determined, but the plane did change its flight path after takeoff because of bad weather. Although the aircraft did fly over or near an embattled region, government officials believe it is unlikely that the fighters in the region had weaponry that could shoot down an aircraft at altitude.
This was the third, major international air disaster in a week. The others include Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a Boeing 777, which was shot down over the Ukraine killing all 298 people on board, and TransAsia Airways Flight GE 222, an ATR 72-500, which crashed while attempting to land at Magong Airport in the Penghu Islands killing 48 and injuring 10 people on board.
Despite these three tragedies, commercial airline flight remains relatively safe. As these tragedies remind us, however, it is not risk free, especially on foreign carriers. And, as discussed in other blogs, the skies are becoming more crowded, not just with commercial airliners but with increasingly present unmanned aircraft systems. The need to be proactive about safety has never been greater.