Smoke aboard, EgyptAir jet sent warnings before crash
Paris/ Cairo: The EgyptAir jet which crashed in the Mediterranean on Thursday sent a series of warnings indicating that smoke had been detected on board, shortly before it disappeared off radar screens, French investigators said on Saturday.
A spokesman for France’s BEA air accident investigation agency said the signals did not indicate what caused the smoke or fire on board the plane, which plunged into the sea with 66 people on board as it was heading from Paris to Cairo.
But they offered the first clues as to what unfolded in the moments before the crash.
One aviation source said that a fire on board would likely have generated multiple warning signals, while a sudden explosion may not have generated any – though officials stress that no scenario, including explosion, is being ruled out.
Egypt said its navy had found hu- man remains, wreckage and the personal belongings of passengers floating in the Mediterranean about 290 km north of Alexandria.
The army published pictures on Saturday on its official Facebook page of the recovered items, which included blue and white debris with EgyptAir markings, seat fabric with designs in the airline’s colours, and a yellow life jacket.
Analysis of the debris and recovery of the plane’s twin flight recorders are likely to be key to determining the cause of the crash – the third blow since October to Egypt’s travel industry, still reeling from political unrest following the 2011 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.
A suspected Islamic State bombing brought down a Russian airliner after it took off from Sharm elSheikh airport in late October, killing all 224 on board, and an EgyptAir plane was hijacked in March by a man wearing a fake suicide belt.
The signals from the plane “do not allow in any way to say what may have caused smoke or fire on board the aircraft,” said a spokesman for the French BEA agency, which is assisting an official Egyptian investigation.
He added that the priority now was to find the two flight recorders, known as black boxes, containing cockpit voice recordings and data readings, from the Airbus A320 which vanished from radar early on Thursday.
Relatives and friends of EgyptAir hostess Yara Hani, who was onboard the illfated jet, mourn during a ceremony at a church in Cairo on Saturday.