Investigators have confirmed that smoke was detected in the cabin of EgyptAir flight MS804 only minutes before it crashed into the Mediterranean Sea.
The Aviation Herald has reported that smoke detectors in the plane’s toilet went off just a few minutes before the plane’s signal was lost.
Flight data filed through the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) from three independent channels reportedly shows that at 02:26 local time on Thursday (00:26 GMT) the Airbus A320’s toilet smoke alarm went off.
Only one minute later, at 00:27 GMT, there was another smoke alert.
The Aviation Herald say that the last ACARS message was sent at 00:29 GMT and contact with the plane was lost just four minutes later at 02:33 local time.
France’s Bureau of Investigations and Analysis has confirmed the data but told AFP that it’s ‘far too soon to interpret and understand the cause of the accident as long as we have not found the wreckage or the flight data recorders’.
The editor of Aviation Security International Magazine, Philip Baum, spoke to the BBC, telling them that technical failure couldn’t be ruled out.
There was smoke reported in the aircraft lavatory, then smoke in the avionics bay, and over a period of three minutes the aircraft’s systems shut down, so you know, that’s starting to indicate that it probably wasn’t a hijack, it probably wasn’t a struggle in the cockpit, it’s more likely a fire on board.
Although we currently don’t know what happened to the plane, this data suggests there was most likely a fire at the front of the aircraft which spread quickly through the plane.
— Henk van Ess (@henkvaness) May 19, 2016
Sally Leivesley a security consultant, told the BBC that the timing on the data suggested an extremely rapidly developing flame front from a fire that has overwhelmed the avionics very, very quickly’.
However, it’s unknown if the fire was accidental or started deliberately, although The Telegraph claim that smoke in the cabin is ‘consistent with an explosion’.
It will likely be a long time before we get any real answers to the plane’s fate, it took two years to find Air France flight 447’s black boxes after it crashed into the Atlantic back in 2009.