EgyptAir flight 804 voice recorder points towards fire as cause of crash

Claims the plane was downed by terrorists, made by Donald Trump among others, appear to have been premature

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Tuesday 05 July 2016 21:41 BST
(File Photo) All 66 people on board were killed in the crash
(File Photo) All 66 people on board were killed in the crash (AP)

Within hours of the news that EgyptAir flight MS804 had disappeared over the Mediterranean with the loss of all 66 on board, Donald Trump declared that that terrorists had downed the jet. The presidential hopeful said: “If anybody thinks it wasn't blown out of the sky, you're 100 per cent wrong.”

Yet sources involved in the investigation say that analysis of the cockpit voice recorder indicates desperate attempts to put out an on-board fire, with no suggestion of terrorism involvement. Fragments of wreckage show evidence of an on-board fire just behind the flight deck.

The EgyptAir flight disappeared on 19 May. The Airbus A320 was at 37,000 feet and nearing the end of a routine scheduled flight from Paris to Cairo when it disappeared from radar screens about 180 miles north of Alexandria.

No distress calls were made from the flight deck, and air-traffic control evidence suggests extreme turns were made before the plane hit the water.

The aircraft’s “black boxes” – the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder – were recovered from the depths of the Mediterranean by a deep-ocean search vessel. Some components were damaged, and the data recorders were taken to Paris for specialist recovery work.

Investigators have been painstakingly piecing together the last moments of the aircraft.

Fragments from the voice recorder, along with data messages sent shortly before the plane disappeared from radar screens, indicate that a fire took hold in the area of the lavatory and avionics bay.

Fire has downed many aircraft, notably Swissair flight 111 from New York to Geneva. The MD11 jet crashed off the coast of Nova Scotia in 1998, with the loss of 229 lives, after faulty wiring started a fire that incapacitated the pilots.,

Meanwhile, the Egyptian tourist industry has suffered another blow. Europe’s biggest holiday firm, Tui, has cancelled its programme from the UK to the Nile city of Luxor until November 2017 at the earliest. Customers with existing bookings are being offered full refunds or discounts on alternative holidays.

Sharm El Sheikh airport, serving Egypt’s premier resort, is still off-limits to UK airlines following the crash in October 2015 of a Russian charter jet, with the loss of 224 lives. It is believed a bomb was planted while the Airbus A321 was on the ground at the Egyptian airport.

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