Cigarette lit by pilot downed flight that killed 66 people

An EgyptAir flight that crashed en route to Cairo, killing all 66 people on board, was shot down by a pilot who had a cigarette in the cockpit and started a fire, according to a new report.

EgyptAir flight MS804 on May 19, 2016 was en route from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to Cairo International Airport when it crashed between the Greek island of Crete and northern Egypt.

According to a report by The New York Post, France’s Bureau of Inquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) has since concluded that pilot Mohamed Said Shoukair’s interruption of smoke in the air led to a fire aboard the Airbus A320 jet. when his cigarette ignited the oxygen leaking from an oxygen mask in the cabin.

The air disaster resulted in the death of 56 passengers and 10 crew, including 12 French, 30 Egyptians, 2 Iraqis, 1 Canadian and 1 British.

Egyptian officials initially said the plane crash was the result of a terrorist attack, claiming that traces of explosives were found on the victims’ bodies, but that claim was widely discredited.

In 2018, France’s BEA determined that the flight went down because of an onboard fire based on analysis of data from the aircraft’s black-box recorder, which was recovered in deep water near Greece by the US Navy – albeit in At the time investigators did not say what specifically caused the hell on board.

But in March 2022, the BEA released a new report that claims oxygen leaked from a pilot’s oxygen mask in the cockpit shortly before the crash, based on black box data that captured the hissing sound of oxygen.

The oxygen mask in question had been replaced just three days before the fateful flight by an EgyptAir maintenance worker, but for an unknown reason it had its release valve set to the “emergency position”, which, according to the Airbus safety manual, could lead to a leak.

Incredibly, at the time of the leak, EgyptAir pilots were allowed to smoke in the cockpit – a rule that has since changed. Smoke on board, combined with leaking oxygen, set the stage for the fire, according to French aviation experts.

The deadly plane crash is currently the subject of a wrongful death case before the Paris Court of Appeal.

The 134-page report, reviewed by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra, was released to the Parisian court at the request of local judges.

Egypt refused to release its report on the accident and, in 2018, rejected the BEA’s initial findings, dismissing them as “unsubstantiated”.

The victims’ families accused the Egyptian authorities of not cooperating with the accident investigation.

Antoine Lachenaud, a lawyer representing the family of Clement Daeschner-Cormary, a 26-year-old passenger who died in the crash, said the new report shows the plane’s crash was caused by human error.

“When warnings are systematically ignored, it results in an accident and it becomes impossible to maintain that this is due to chance,” he said.

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