|Image of the aircraft captured before the doomed flight, prior to departure.|
On board were 217 passengers and 7 crew members, including 17 children and 138 women. The aircraft commander - Nemov Valery Yu - an experienced pilot, had a total flight time of more than 12000 hours, of which 3860 hours were on the Airbus A321.
The aircraft operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia under the brand name Metrojet, was flying from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg in Russia.
The aircraft took off at 5:49 a.m. Cairo time and disappeared from radar after 23 minutes into the flight. The aircraft steadily climbed to its cruise altitude without any unusual deviations in flight parameters.
While the aircraft was over Sinai peninsula, large variation in speed and altitude were recorded, at an altitude of 31,000 feet (9,400 meters), one minute prior to lose of radar contact at 6:13 am.
The aircraft had literally fallen from the sky with very high vertical decent rate. The live aircraft tracking website Flightradar 24 said the aircraft was descending at the rate of 6000 ft per minute, prior to lose of contact.
The Captain had requested immediate landing following a in flight emergency, probably due to technical problems.
The aircraft involved in the accident, registered under EI-ETJ was MSN (Manufacturer Serial Number) 663, was produced in 1997 and since 2012 operated by Metrojet.
The aircraft had accumulated some 56000 flight hours in nearly 21000 flights and was powered by two IAE-V2500 engines.
The A321-200 is the largest member of the Airbus twin-engine A320 Family seating up to 240 passengers. The first A321 entered service in January 1994. By the end of September 2015, some 6500 A320 Family aircraft were in service with over 300 operators. To date, the entire fleet has accumulated some 168 million flight hours in some 92.5 million flights.
European carriers Lufthansa and Air France has announced decision to avoid flying over the Sinai region, which is home to militant groups affiliated with Islamic State, until there is clarity about the cause of crash.