A new report has found that the infamous EgyptAir plane that crashed in 2016 resulting in the death of all 66 people who were on board, was caused by the pilot’s cigarette, which was kept in the cockpit that later caught fire.
EgyptAir flight MS804 was en route from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to Cairo International Airport on May 19, 2016, when it started losing altitude between the Greek island of Crete and northern Egypt.
The report was produced by France’s Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA), which concluded that the fire broke out onboard the Airbus A320 when the pilot Mohamed Said Shoukair took a break mid-air to smoke. There was an oxygen leak in the cockpit from a faulty oxygen mask, which was the cause of the fire. The plane crash killed 56 passengers and 10 crew members, including 12 French nationals, 30 Egyptians, two Iraqis, one Canadian, and one British citizen.
Egyptian authorities said a terrorist attack was the cause
Initially, the authorities in Egypt who were investigating the crash claimed that the disaster was because of a terrorist attack. They also claimed to have found traces of explosives on the bodies of those who were killed, but their conclusions have been widely discredited.
In 2018, the Bureau of Enquiry and analysis for Civil Aviation Safety of France revealed that the EgyptAir flight numbered MS804 went down due to a fire on board. They concluded their findings through the analysis of the plane’s black box recorder which was retrieved by the US Navy from deep water in Greece – the investigators were not immediately able to identify what caused the fire, until March of this year. Based on black box data that captured the sound of oxygen hissing, BEA released a new report in March 2022 alleging that oxygen had leaked from a pilot’s oxygen mask in the cockpit shortly before the crash.
Oxygen masks had been replaced just three days ago
The faulty oxygen mask in question had been replaced just three days earlier from the day the incident took place, with its release valve surprisingly set to the énergy position’, which could result in dangerous leaks, as determined by the Airbus safety manual. It is still unknown as to why the release valve of the mask was set in the emergency position.
At the time of the fateful incident, pilots were allowed to smoke cigarettes in the cockpit. The rule has since been changed. According to French aviation experts, the onboard smoking, in combination with the leaking oxygen, set the stage for the disastrous fire.
A manslaughter case is currently being heard before the Paris Court of Appeals in connection with the fatal plane crash. The report consists of 134 pages and was reviewed by the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Serra. At the request of local judges, the report was sent to the Parisian court.
The families of those who lost their lives in the crash have alleged that the Egyptian authorities failed to cooperate with the investigation. The new report, according to Antoine Lachenaud, a lawyer representing the family of Clement Daeschner-Cormary, a 26-year-old passenger who died, showed that the crash was caused by human error.
“When warnings are ignored in a systematic manner this results in a crash and it becomes impossible to maintain that this is due to chance,” -he said.