Daily Management Review

Puzzling Twist Added to Fatal EgyptAir Flight by Smoke Alarms


Puzzling Twist Added to Fatal EgyptAir Flight by Smoke Alarms
French accident investigator BEA said that minutes before the EgyptAir Flight 804lost contact with the ATC, there were automatic radio messages about smoke in the front portion of the cabin generated by the aircraft.
The investigators have been puzzled by the electronic signals and somewhat confused about what may have happened to the flight. The flight went down on Thursday with 66 people aboard.
Suggestions of a fire onboard were made by first of the two error messages which was generated at 2:26 a.m. local time. Some type of failure in the plane’s electrical equipment was indicated by the second alert.
The warnings aren’t associated with a sudden disappearance from radar as occurred with the Airbus A320 over the Mediterranean even though similar signals have preceded air accidents in the past. The on-board systems didn’t have time to send distress messages on a Malaysian Airlines flight which broke apart very quickly after it was shot down over Ukrainian airspace in July 2014.
 “It’s too long for an explosion and too short for a traditional fire. It says we have more question than we have answers,” said John Cox, a former A320 pilot who is president of the Washington-based consultancy Safety Operating Systems.
According to the Aviation Herald, alerts for two fumes were detected in the plane’s smoke detectors - one in a lavatory and the other in the compartment below the cockpit where the plane’s computers and avionics systems are stored, followed the alerts and spread for a period of three minutes. The approximate time the aircraft went missing matched the time stamps of the alerts, CNN reported.
Cox said that pilots of the airplane would have begun attempts to divert the plane and send distress calls on radio in the case of a mid-flight fire. No such radio calls came from the EgyptAir plane.
Valuable clues would probably be provided once the transmissions which are automatically sent to ground stations are matched up against the plane’s crash-proof flight recorders. The transmissions are sent to allow airlines to monitor whether a plane needs maintenance.
Transmissions collected from the plane may have different causes and require further analysis before drawing any conclusions, Egypt’s Ministry of Civil Aviation said in a statement.
“We are looking at all the information that is collected but it is far too early to make a judgment or decision on single source of information,” it said.
Reports by CBS News that said the cockpit voice and flight-data recorders had been found were not commented at by Egyptian and French investigators. The search teams had discovered the devices near a site where body parts and aircraft debris had been located, the network had suggested on Saturday.
Key flight metrics and sounds from the cockpit that could definitively detail what downed the plane are stored in the so-called black boxes which are painted bright orange. Location and recovery of the black box from the doomed Air France AF447 flight that went down in the Atlantic Ocean in 2009 had taken several years. the black box of the Malaysian Airlines MH370 still hasn’t been found more than two years after it disappeared.