Interesting Developments In The EgyptAir Crash

In mid-May, an EgyptAir Airbus A320 flying between Paris and Cairo disappeared from radar over the Mediterranean Sea, as it was slowly approaching Cairo. Per flightradar24, this is where radar contact was lost:

MS804-Lost-Radar

Given the complexity of air crash investigations, it usually takes quite a while before we find out what really happened.

It took several weeks for the EgyptAir flight data recorder to be recovered, and a couple more weeks for the cockpit voice recorder to be accessed.

While investigators explore all possibilities, typically they lean a certain way based on clues.

In the case of EgyptAir 804, there was no distress call at all from the pilots, but rather the flight simply disappeared from radar. Generally this would suggest that something sudden happened (explosion, intentional act, etc.), given that the pilots weren’t communicating with ATC.

Of course there are exceptions, since the protocol for pilots is to “aviate, navigate, and communicate,” in that order. In other words, first they want to keep the plane in the air, then they want to fly it in the direction they need to go to land safely, and then they communicate. So it could just be that they didn’t have time to communicate.

A couple of weeks ago we learned that the flight data recorder suggested that there was a fire aboard, which would suggest that the crash wasn’t quite as “instant” as many otherwise thought.

Now the details of the cockpit voice recorder are surfacing, and they’re confirming what was found on the flight data recorder. Per the BBC:

Pilots of the EgyptAir jet that crashed in the Mediterranean Sea in May battled to extinguish a fire, the cockpit voice recorder reportedly shows.

The data, revealed by sources close to the investigation but not yet made public, backs up evidence from the flight recorder of smoke in the cabin.

Recovered wreckage also showed signs of high temperature damage and soot on the jet’s front section.

Both of the so-called “black box” recorders reinforce the automated electronic messages sent out by the plane that had shown smoke detectors going off in a toilet and in the avionics area below the cockpit, minutes before the plane disappeared.

We’ll see what comes of this, but it certainly paints a different picture than what many had first expected. Of course this still could be anything. Regardless, I found the update to be interesting.

Comments

  1. “While investigators explore all possibilities, typically they lean a certain way based on clues.”

    No shit Sherlock

  2. I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting on Trump to admit he was wrong. That guy never admits he is wrong about anything. Watch his Colbert interview on the birther thing, hilarious!

  3. I am an Arab and flown many Arab airlines including EgyptAir. Similar to many third world airlines, I’ve seen people (and especially crew members) smoking in the lavatory of the plane on EgyptAir. I’m willing to bet that this accident was due to cigarette smoking onboard.

  4. I also have been on board an EgyptAir flight where I was seated up front in business class and smelled cigarette smoke. I complained to the flight attendant and it stopped. But later when I was deplaning and the cockpit door was open there was an ashtray on the console between the pilots! I sent a letter to the FAA and Star Alliance about this matter.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if this tragedy was caused by a dropped cigarette in the cockpit.

  5. Funny, my husband and I flew from Cairo not too long ago and thought we were crazy because we smelled cigarette smoke. What a tragedy if that was the cause. Let’s wait and see.

  6. Cigarettes are a very likely culprit and I’ve been surprised that this hasn’t been discussed from the start. Flyers on Egyptair know quite well the crew smoke in the front bathroom and if you look at the timing of this fire it would have occurred right before descent in the middle of the night, which is when you’d likely expect the pilot or copilot to have taken a smoke break. Egyptair will never admit this happened and bury evidence to support it for pride and liability reasons.

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