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Flight Crash That Killed 66 People Caused By Pilot Smoking A Cigarette, Report Claims

by : Aisha Nozari on :
Flight Crash That Killed 66 People Caused By Pilot Smoking A Cigarette, Report Claims
Flight Crash That Killed 66 People Caused By Pilot Smoking A Cigarette, Report Claims (Alamy)

The crash of an EgyptAir plane in 2016 was likely due to the pilot lighting a cigarette in the cockpit, a new report has found. 

EgyptAir flight MS804 was en route from Paris to Cairo when it plunged into the eastern Mediterranean, killing all 66 onboard.

Experts now believe a lit cigarette ignited oxygen seeping from an emergency mask, suggesting the flight’s pilot or co-pilot was smoking in the moments leading up to the disaster.

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Flight MS804 was cruising at 37,000ft before the crash and according to a new 134-page report, oxygen may have been leaking from the co-pilot's mask.

EgyptAir flight MS804 crashed in 2016. Credit: Alamy
EgyptAir flight MS804 crashed in 2016. Credit: Alamy

The findings were sent to the Court of Appeal in Paris last month, and investigators note smoking had not been banned by EgyptAir when the crash took place.

The co-pilot’s oxygen mask was changed three days earlier and the equipment was set to ‘emergency mode’ – designed to keep the wearer safe if smoke fills the cockpit – which means 100% oxygen was being supplied.

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The report was seen by Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper, and according to the outlet, alleges a microphone on the mask picked up the sound of hissing.

Speaking to the paper, pilot Daniele Veronelli said cockpit oxygen and mask equipment checks are routine ahead of take-off. 

"When we enter the cockpit, between the various preliminary checks before taking off, we also check the oxygen flow in the side masks," he said.

“A door is lifted and the air flow is tested by pressing a button that protrudes from the compartment. By activating the intercom you can hear the oxygen flowing because each mask is equipped with a microphone."

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All 66 onboard were killed. Credit: Alamy
All 66 onboard were killed. Credit: Alamy
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The report also alleged pilots complained of tiredness during the flight, which left Charles De Gaulle airport just after 11.00pm local time on 19 May.

Less than two hours after take-off, EgyptAir Flight MS804 disappeared from radar and air traffic control did not receive a mayday call. 

Egyptian authorities initially blamed the crash on terrorism, claiming human remains recovered from the wreckage had traces of explosives on them.

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However, in 2018, the French BEA air accident investigation agency said the ‘most likely hypothesis is that a fire broke out in the cockpit’.

The agency added: “[The incident happened while] the aeroplane was flying at its cruise altitude and the fire spread rapidly resulting in the loss of control of the aeroplane,” as reported by The Independent.

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