An oxygen leak in the co-pilot’s mask is believed to have been the cause of the crash of an Egyptair plane that crashed in the Mediterranean Sea in 2016, killing 66 people. AFP was informed of the French experts’ conclusions on Thursday.
EgyptAir flight MS804, which connects Paris to Cairo, crashed into the sea between Crete and the north coast of Egypt on May 19, 2016 after suddenly disappearing from radar screens. The 66 people on board, including 40 Egyptians and 15 French, perished. The black boxes were found a month later.
While Cairo was quick to suggest an attack, Paris favored the thesis of a technical incident from the start.
“The Defining Element of Fire”
According to various expert reports submitted to the French judicial authority since the crash, of which AFP was aware, a fire broke out on board the cockpit. The crew then left in a hurry. Apparently he couldn’t find a fire extinguisher and therefore couldn’t use it, which caused the crash a few minutes later.
“Oxygen leakage from the co-pilot’s quick-release mask is considered a key factor in the cause of the fire,” the five experts explain at the end of their latest 134-page report from March, published by Corriere Della Sera.
However, the report specifies that it is not possible “to determine the exact cause of the fire (…) with certainty”.
Other possible triggers
In a previous report from June 2021, however, experts had ruled out “a spontaneous outbreak of fire if the sole presence of the oxygen leak” was present. They then evoked three possible triggers, “all of human origin.”
The first is “a pilot-requested static blanket” for sleeping; the second deals with “fats that are part of the meal served to the pilot”; and the third advanced element is “a high probability of a lit cigarette or butt burning in an ashtray” while the crew regularly smoked in the cockpit.
The experts also found “unprofessional behavior” on the part of the crew: music, coming and going in the cockpit several times, “lack of attention when tracking the flight” etc.
Families denounce serious negligence
“There was a lack of maintenance, a series of negligence and serious irregularities,” two representatives of the Association of Families of Egyptair MS804 Crash Victims denounced to AFP, calling for the airline to be charged.