Egypt denies technical failures caused 2016 Airbus crash

Debris that the search teams found in the sea after the EgyptAir Airbus A320 crashed in the Mediterranean in May 2016. (AFP pic)

CAIRO: Egypt yesterday denied that technical failures caused EgyptAir flight 804 to crash on its way to Cairo from Paris three years ago, killing all 66 people on board.

Forty Egyptians and 15 French nationals were on board the Airbus A320 when it crashed into the Mediterranean on May 19, 2016 leaving no survivors.

“The claims made by some foreign newspapers were incorrect,” Egypt’s civil aviation ministry said, citing a report by a French daily about “EgyptAir’s shortfalls… in the technical handling” of the aircraft.

It added that the maintenance and upkeep of EgyptAir planes were carried out “according to international standards and approved by the international civil aviation organisations”.

Egypt’s aviation minister had initially said a terrorist attack was more likely to have brought down the plane.

France’s aviation safety agency has said the aircraft transmitted automated messages indicating smoke in the cabin and a fault in the flight control unit minutes before losing contact.

“The system for monitoring technical failures… recorded no technical problems during the aircraft’s last flights before the crash,” the Egyptian ministry said yesterday.

This “completely negates” the French report published last week, it added.

Three Paris judges investigating the case ordered two probes to reconstruct the sequence of events that led to the crash, with results from the first handed over to magistrates last June.

In the 76-page document, first reported by the Le Parisien newspaper on April 2, the two experts complain of “the considerable lack of rigour on the part of crew and the technical services of EgyptAir” in processing the aircraft’s technical documents.

But they stopped short of drawing a conclusion on the cause of the crash, adding that one of the faults “could have been the precursor to a major electrical failure”.

In Dec 2016, Cairo officials said traces of explosives had been found on the remains of some victims, but French authorities were sceptical, as no organisation had claimed responsibility for any attack.