Egypt denied a recent report by French investigators stating that the 2016 EgyptAir plane crash was caused by a fire in the cockpit on Monday, according to the state-run Middle East News Agency.
The Egyptian public prosecution issued a statement asserting that investigations into the crash are ongoing. On May 19, 2016, EgyptAir flight MS804 en route from Paris to Cairo crashed over the Mediterranean Sea shortly after entering Egyptian airspace, killing 66 people.
The Monday statement reaffirmed previous Egyptian assertions that explosive residue was found on the remains of victims, hinting at a possible militant attack, adding that France’s claims of a fire, issued on Friday and which could point to an technical error, “have no basis.”
Investigations previously stalled when Egypt requested that French police sign a declaration acknowledging the presence of the explosive residue, which would have places responsibility for the crash on French airport authorities. However, they refused to sign the documents, demanding more evidence from the Egyptian side.
The French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA), which carries out inquiries and investigations into aviation accidents, issued a press release on Friday outlining the results of their investigations into the EgyptAir crash. According to the BEA statement, “a fire broke out in the cockpit while the aeroplane was flying at its cruise altitude. The fire spread rapidly, resulting in the loss of control of the aeroplane.”
The BEA said that its conclusions are based on flight recordings, in which crew members can be heard speaking about a fire. Additionally, according to the bureau, pieces of debris recovered from the crash bore signs of “having been subject to high temperatures and traces of soot.” The press release included no additional information regarding the details of the suspected fire.
The press release added that during a meeting in May of this year with the Egyptian Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek, held at the BEA’s request, Egypt asserted that conducting investigations into the falls within the jurisdiction of Egyptian judicial authorities. However, the relevant egyptian authorities did not publish the findings of their investigation, according to the press release. The BEA added that they would be willing to continue collaborating if the Egyptian side restarted their investigations into the crash.
Reuters reported in July 2016 that retrieved flight recordings from MS804 indicate that crew had sought to extinguish an inflight fire. The state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper denied these claims, calling them “unofficial” statements.
On December 15 of that year, the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry announced that trace amounts of explosives were found on the remains of victims. However, French police and judicial sources denied this finding several days later.
The plane, an Airbus A320 model, was carrying 56 passengers, 15 of whom were French nationals, and 10 crew members when it crashed in the early hours of May 19, 2016, shortly after entering Egyptian airspace.