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Smoke Detected on EgyptAir Flight Shortly before Crash | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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This picture taken on May 19, 2016, shows an Egyptair Airbus A330 from Cairo taxiing at the Roissy-Charles De Gaulle airport near Paris after its landing. AFP

Cairo, Washington- An aviation industry publication has reported that sensors detected smoke in a lavatory in the EgyptAir jetliner minutes before it crashed in the Mediterranean Sea while on its way from Paris to Cairo early Thursday.

The publication cited information transmitted through the plane’s Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System, which transmits data from the plane to the ground in the form of a series of messages. Those messages showed that smoke was detected in the plane’s lavatory near the cockpit, according to the report.

France’s BEA air accident investigation agency confirmed on Saturday that the jet sent a burst of error messages indicating that smoke had been detected on board before crashing.

“These messages do not allow in any way to say what may have caused smoke or fire on board the aircraft,” a spokesman for the agency said, adding that the messages indicated that smoke been detected towards the front of the cabin.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian military said search crews found floating human remains, luggage and seats from the doomed jetliner off the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria.

The discovery of the wreckage came after European satellite spotted a 2 km-long oil slick in the Mediterranean, about 40 km southeast of the aircraft’s last known position, the European Space Agency said.

Three French investigators and a technical expert from Airbus arrived in Cairo early on Friday to help with the investigation in the crash of Flight 804 which had 66 people on board.

Looking for clues to whether terrorists brought down the plane, investigators were viewing the films of 9,000 surveillance cameras at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.

They also pored over the passenger list and questioned ground crew members at the airport.

French aviation investigators have begun to check and question all baggage handlers, maintenance workers, gate agents and other ground crew members at the airport who had a direct or indirect link to the plane before it took off, according to a French judicial official.

Former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell, said it’s still too early to call, there are multiple layers of the investigation that could help determine whether terrorism is to be blamed.

“Is there anybody on that flight with a link to a terrorist organization, number one. And number two, are there any conversations that are going on right now within terrorist organizations – non-public conversations – where they’re congratulating each other. So that’s on the intelligence side,” Morell said.

“It’s very difficult to come up with a scenario that jibes with some sort of catastrophic failure. (The evidence so far) leads us down the road to a deliberate act,” CNN aviation analyst Miles O’Brien said.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault asserted on French television that there is “absolutely no indication” of what caused the crash.

The pilot was experienced, with 6,275 flying hours, and the co-pilot had clocked 2,101, officials said.