Smoke Detected on Crashed EgyptAir Plane, Say Investigators
As Egyptian officials search for the EgyptAir plane that disappeared last week, human remains as well as debris from the aircraft were discovered over the weekend.
The plane had also set off smoke-alarm warnings right before the crash.
The Aviation Herald broke the story, saying the detectors went off in the bathroom of flight MS-804.
The message went as follows:
00:26Z 3044 ANTI ICE R WINDOW
00:26Z 561200 R SLIDING WINDOW SENSOR
00:26Z 2600 SMOKE LAVATORY SMOKE
00:27Z 2600 AVIONICS SMOKE
00:28Z 561100 R FIXED WINDOW SENSOR
00:29Z 2200 AUTO FLT FCU 2 FAULT
00:29Z 2700 F/CTL SEC 3 FAULT
The data was taken via the plane’s ACARS system, which sends transmissions from the plane to ground receivers. Investigators are now searching for the plane’s black boxes, which contain the flight recording data.
BEA spokesman Sebastien Barthe told NBC News: “This usually means a fire.”
“We can confirm that these data messages are genuine, they are real,” Barthe added. “There are five or six reports of smoke from the front of the aircraft, close to the cockpit. We are not putting any interpretation on this information or what is the cause of the smoke.”
Egyptian Aircraft Accident Investigation Committee said the ACARS transmissions could have been triggered by a number of different causes and “thus require further analysis.”
“We are looking at all the information that is collected,” the agency added, “but it is far too early to make judgment or decision on single source of information.”
A commercial pilot with a major European airline company told The Telegraph that other parts of the data log suggested that the windows on the right-hand side of the cockpit were blown out, possibly via an explosion inside the plane.
“It looks like the right front and side window were blown out, most probably from inside out,” said the pilot, who flies an A330 that is similar to the crashed A320. He declined to be named in the Telegraph report.
The New York Times said there was ominous graffiti written on the underside of the plane by vandals.
“We will bring this plane down,” it read. The vandalism was carried out two years ago as part of a protest against Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the Egyptian president who took power via a coup, and it didn’t seem to be a jihadist threat, the Times reported. The airline in 2013 fired a number of alleged Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers in 2013 as part of a purge of Islamists following his coup.
French police said Arabic graffiti like “Allahu Akbar” was found on EasyJet and Vueling planes at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport and at Lyon Airport after the Paris terrorist attacks last November.
However, electronic or mechanical failures have not been ruled out by officials.
“Now if it was a bomb, the characteristic bomb…[it] would have ruptured the skin of the aircraft. This is not the indication you would have had, because a bomb that would do that would be instantaneous, and these reports would not have gone over two minutes like they do,” CNN aviation analyst David Soucie said.
“It could have been either something mechanical that had failed, a short circuit, or it could have been an incendiary device of some kind as well,” he said.
Egyptian officials have said the plane may have been downed by a terrorist act. No terrorist organization, including al-Qaeda or ISIS, have claimed responsibility for the plane crash. ISIS claimed responsibility for downing a Metrojet plane that crashed over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula last October.
Egypt’s military released a short video that features some of the debris that was found.
The plane crashed with 56 passengers and 10 crew members on board. It was flying from Paris to Cairo.