The 2016 crash of MS804 was likely caused by a cockpit fire according to investigators from the BEA. This is despite Egyptian investigators stating traces of explosives was found on the victims.
In a statement the BEA said, “the most likely hypothesis is that a fire broke out in the cockpit while the aeroplane was flying at its cruise altitude and that the fire spread rapidly resulting in the loss of control of the aeroplane.” The BEA investigators reached the conclusion after hearing the flight crew discussing a fire on the cockpit voice recorder and the plane’s ACARS messaging system also indicating smoke onboard in the lavatories and avionics bay.
The BEA is awaiting Egypts final report to understand how the 2 countries came to different conclusions.
MS804 was an A320 flying from Paris to Cairo on 19 May 2016 when it crashed into the Mediterranean. 66 people were on board, including 30 Egyptians, 15 French nationals and 1 Briton.
It’s not the first time there has been a dispute between Egyptian investigators and another investigating agency. The Egyptian authorities also disagreed with the NTSB’s findings of the 1999 crash of MS990, a B767. The NTSB ruled that the crash was “as a result of the relief first officers flight control inputs” in a suicide by pilot situation.
The Egyptian investigators concluded, “there is no evidence to support a conclusion that the First Officer intentionally dove the airplane into the ocean in fact, the evidence available refutes such a theory,” and “the accumulation of evidence showing anomalies in the elevator system of the accident airplane makes a mechanical defect a plausible and likely cause of the accident.” while also noting “[t]he possibility remains, however, that the RFO intentionally maneuvered the airplane to avoid a collision or to respond to some other emergency.”
The NTSB tested each of the mechanical issues that the Egyptian investigators came up with as possible causes and determined “[n]o mechanical failure scenario resulted in airplane movements that matched the flight data recorder data from the accident airplane. Even assuming that one of the four examined failure scenarios that the investigation evaluated in depth had occurred, the accident airplane would still have been recoverable because of the capabilities of the Boeing 767s redundant elevator system.”
The full BEA statement on the MS804 investigation can be found here. (pdf file)