EgyptAir crash: Pilot spoke with ground control about ‘smoke’ before crash

Image by Mehmet Mustafa Celik via Creative Commons |CC BY 4.0
  • The pilot of EgyptAir Flight 804 reportedly spoke with ground control minutes before the crash
  • This directly contradicts early claim that the doomed plane lost communication and did not make any distress call prior to its steep descent
  • Egyptian military deployed robot submarine to help in the search of the plane’s black boxes and wreckage

The captain of the ill-fated EgyptAir Flight 804 has spoken with air traffic control about ‘smoke in the cabin’ minutes before the Airbus A320 crashed into the Mediterranean Sea, this was reportedly according to French television M6.

The Independent cited the French TV station as it source of information which now contradicts an early report that the plane carrying 66 people on board lost communication prior to its steep descent early morning Thursday, May 19.

Captain Mohamed Said Shoukair reportedly contacted the Egyptian ground control and spoke about the smoke rapidly engulfing the cabin and his plan to make an ‘emergency landing’. The conversation lasted for several minutes which is now treated as a ‘distress call’, refuting earlier claims by the Egyptian military that no such call came through.

The M6 claim did not reveal the exact time when the ‘distress call’ was made, or how long did the conversation between the pilot and controllers lasted.

Early reports said that air traffic control lost contact with Flight 804 at 2:30 am (local time) around 16 kilometers (10 miles) inside Egyptian airspace while traveling at an altitude of 37,000 feet. The doomed plane made a 90-degree turn before dropping from 37,000 feet to 15,000 feet and swerved 360 degrees to the right.

The latest development could also play down claims by the Egyptian government that there was strong indication the crash may have been caused by a terrorist attack.

Robot submarine joins search

The Egyptian defense ministry has sent a robot submarine on Sunday to join the search for the wreckage of Flight 804 inside the search zone which is comprised of 12,950 square kilometers.

The first batch of debris – mostly suitcases, plane seats and human remains – were discovered about 290km (180 miles) north of coast of Alexandria city on Friday.

Dozens more were found including some of the passenger’s personal belongings and plane parts, but the two black boxes have yet to be recovered.

“They have a submarine that can reach 3,000 meters underwater,” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in a televised speech addressing his countrymen. “It moved today in the direction of the plane crash site because we are working hard to salvage the black boxes.”

Aviation experts said investigators have 30 days to listen to the black boxes’ pings, which came every second, to locate them.

Once recovered, the flight data and cockpit voice recorders may finally unravel the mystery behind the latest aviation disaster this year.

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