Fire Has Clearly Occurred In EgyptAir Flight MS804 Before Its Crash

An Egyptian official disclosed that the word “fire” is clearly audible on the cockpit voice recording from EgyptAir Flight 804, but safety experts and a person involved in the investigation said there are no clear-cut answers so far about the sequence of events that brought down the jetliner almost two months ago.

Egyptian authorities said: “still, it is too early to determine the reason or the place where that fire occurred.”

According to the investigation committee, Audio from the flight recorder of crashed Egypt Airflight MS804 mentions a fire on board the plane in its final moments.

Reuters reported that earlier analysis of the plane’s flight data recorder showed there had been smoke in the lavatory and avionics bay, while recovered wreckage from the jet’s front section showed signs of high temperature damage and soot.

A committee sources said that initial audio extracted from the flight deck voice recorder had indicated an attempt to put out a fire on the jet before it crashed.

Last month investigators signaled that information from the flight data recorder, the plane’s other so-called black box, along with recovered wreckage validated earlier theories suggest that a fire had broken out on board. Soot was found on part of the right side of the cockpit.

Minutes before the crash, the aircraft had sent fault warnings that pointed to smoke in one of the lavatories and the avionics bay located under the cabin floor and behind the cockpit, where key electronics are housed.

According to safety experts, the information has been particularly puzzling because since A320s began flying passengers, nearly three decades ago, there hasn’t been a verified instance of a fire erupting inside the avionics bay. There are nearly 4,000 of the planes now in operation world-wide.

Despite the pilots are trained to deal with onboard fires, but experts stated that a sudden occurrence in darkness over water, where a startled crew may have had to react to cockpit-instrument failures without reference to a horizon, could be especially difficult to handle.

Moreover, the recent details strongly suggest that the pilots were dealing with a combination of smoke and serious electrical malfunctions—potentially involving various systems—before the jetliner flying at 37,000 feet started a sharp turn, continued a more shallow turn in the opposite direction and then descended fairly rapidly.

The Airbus A320 crashed into the eastern Mediterranean en route from Paris to Cairo on May 19, 2016. All 66 people on board were killed. The cause of the crash remains unknown.