CAIRO — The French aviation safety agency confirmed media reports of smoke in the cabin before the plane crashed into the Mediterranean, killing all 66 people on board.
“There were ACAR [Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System] messages transmitted by the plane, showing that there was smoke in the cabin, shortly before data transmission broke off,” a spokesman of France’s Bureau of Investigations and Analysis (BEA) said.
ACAR is a digital system that transmits short messages between aircraft and ground stations.
The spokesman said it was “far too soon to interpret and understand the cause of Thursday’s accident, as long as we have not found the wreckage or the flight data recorders”.
The signals indicated there was smoke in the front toilets near the cockpit, an expert told AFP.
According to the specialised aviation website Avherald, the ACAR messages read “smoke lavatory smoke” then “avionics smoke” — referring to the plane’s electronic systems — then a “fault” with the FCU, the pilots’ flight control unit in the cockpit.
The warnings began about three minutes before air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said that no theory on the cause of the EgyptAir crash had been ruled out, following the revelations of the smoke in the cabin.
“At this time… all theories are being examined and none is favoured,” he told a news conference after meeting with relatives of passengers who were aboard the doomed A320.
The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, earlier reported that automated warning messages indicated smoke in the nose of the aircraft and an apparent problem with the flight control system.
The messages indicated intense smoke in the front portion of the plane, specifically the lavatory and the equipment compartment beneath the cockpit.
The error warnings also indicated the flight control computer malfunctioned, the report said.
CNN also reported smoke alerts on the flight minutes before it crashed, citing an Egyptian source.
The editor of Aviation Security International Magazine, Philip Baum, said the smoke indicated the plane was probably not hijacked.
But he said it was still possible there was a bomb on board or the smoke was caused by a technical fire.
A spokesman for the BEA said the priority now was to find the two flight recorders, known as black boxes, containing cockpit voice recordings and data readings.
The plane is believed to have come down in a deep part of the Mediterranean, in 2,000 to 3,000 metres of water, according to a source familiar with Western naval estimates.
That would place the black box locator beacons, which last for 30 days, on the edge of their detectable range from the surface, using acoustic equipment typically used during the first stages of a search, according to a report into the 2009 crash of an Air France jet in the Atlantic.
On Friday, search teams found wreckage including seats and luggage about 290 kilometres north of Egypt’s coastal city of Alexandria, Egypt’s military said.
The plane disappeared without any distress signal between the Greek island of Karpathos and the Egyptian coast.
It had turned sharply twice in Egyptian airspace before plunging 6,700m and vanishing from radar screens, Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said.
PM congratulates Nepali national cricket team
KATHMANDU— Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has congratulated Nepali national cricket team for being able to clinch the International T20 series.
PM Oli in a tweet extended best wishes and congratulations saying he was very happy to know Nepal’s win over the UAE by 14 runs in the third match of the series.
Winning T20 series is another landmark success for Nepali cricket, he said, adding, “It is big achievement for Nepal’s cricket. I would like to heartily congratulate entire members of Nepali cricket squad”.