BloombergWASHINGTON (Bloomberg) — French aviation accident investigators issued an unusual admonition of their Egyptian counterparts, questioning their conclusion about the crash of an EgyptAir plane in 2016.
France’s Office of Investigation and Analysis has determined that a fire that began in Flight 804’s cockpit most likely spread rapidly and sent the plane into the eastern Mediterranean, the agency said in a news release Friday. Egypt concluded that the crash was caused by an explosive and that “there had been a malicious act,” according to the French agency, known as the BEA.
All 66 people aboard the Airbus SE A320 died on May 19 when the plane disappeared without a distress call. Information transmitted from the plane’s automated communication system and later verified by the jet’s data recorders indicated that smoke detectors had activated. The flight crew also could be heard on the cockpit voice recorder discussing a fire, the BEA said.
Egyptian investigators said they found traces of explosives in victims. The incident was transferred to the country’s attorney general for further investigation, according to the BEA.
The French agency said it was unaware, however, if its recommendations for further investigation had been followed. Also, its Egyptian counterpart hasn’t published a final report, which would help understand the cause of the accident and provide safety information that could prevent future accidents, the BEA said.
Aviation accident agencies rarely criticize each other publicly, preferring to work together to ensure that safety data is released. The BEA said it released its hypothesis “in the interests of aviation safety.”
Egyptian authorities didn’t respond to a request for comment outside of normal business hours.
If the EgyptAir plane was brought down by fire, that would raise questions about how crews should fight blazes, as well as whether lithium-based batteries, which are used in many electronic devices, or other flammable material helped it spread.Speech