Report: 2016 EgyptAir Crash Caused By Smoking Pilot

Report: 2016 EgyptAir Crash Caused By Smoking Pilot

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The cause of a plane crash nearly six years ago has recently been revealed with greater certainty, based on a newly published report.

Basics of the crash of EgyptAir flight 804

On May 16, 2016, EgyptAir flight MS804 crashed into the Mediterranean Sea, killing all 66 people onboard, including 56 passengers and 10 crew members. The flight was operating from Paris (CDG) to Cairo (CAI) using an Airbus A320 when the accident took place.

Within days of the incident, the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry claimed that the flight was probably attacked. The leading theory initially was that there was a bomb on the plane, as some officials claimed that monitoring equipment focused on the area detected evidence of an explosion onboard the aircraft. Furthermore, Egyptian authorities claimed that traces of explosives had been found on the bodies of some victims.

As more details started to be released, the more common theory was that there was a fire on the aircraft. That’s because in the minutes leading up to the crash, messages sent via ACARS (the aircraft reporting system) indicated that smoke was detected at the front of the jet, in the forward lavatory and avionics bay.

Well, there’s now an update…

EgyptAir crash caused by fire due to cigarette & oxygen mask

A new 134-page report by France’s Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation (BEA) has concluded that the EgyptAir crash happened due to a pilot smoking in the cockpit:

  • Pilot Mohamed Said Shoukair smoked in the middle of the flight, which was actually allowed under EgyptAir’s rules at the time
  • His cigarette ignited oxygen that was leaking from an oxygen mask in the cockpit, causing a fire to break out
  • This has been determined based on black box data that captured the sound of the oxygen hissing
  • The oxygen mask had been replaced just three days before the crash by a maintenance worker, but for unknown reasons the release valve was set to the emergency position, which can lead to leaks

The reason this crash is still being investigated by French authorities is because it’s the subject of a manslaughter case being heard by the Paris Court of Appeals.

Egypt has refused to release its own report into the crash, and has dismissed the BEA’s findings as “unfounded.” Unfortunately Egyptian authorities don’t have a great track record when it comes to transparency and unbiased aircraft investigations. They also insist that the 1999 crash of EgyptAir 990 was due a mechanical failure, rather than one of the pilots intentionally crashing the plane into the ground.

Bottom line

Nearly six years ago, an EgyptAir A320 crashed into the sea. While Egyptian authorities initially claimed it was due to terrorism, it pretty quickly became clear that there was a fire onboard.

A newly published report suggests that the cause of the crash was a fire that started when one of the pilots lit a cigarette, which ignited the oxygen leaking from an oxygen mask. That oxygen mask had been replaced just a few days prior prior to the flight, and wasn’t switched to the right setting.

What do you make of this latest report on the crash of MS804?

Conversations (23)
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  1. polarbear Member

    Does the report really say "His cigarette ignited oxygen .."
    oxygen itself is not flammable

  2. Ciha Guest

    I was 6 years pilot in Turkish Airlines. Although forbidden many pilots still smoke in the plane. It's a cultural issue plus lack of compliance to procedures!

  3. VSM Guest

    I sadly chose NOT to fly Egypt Air to Cairo years after the suicide pilot…I just couldn’t get it out of my mind….We flew through Istanbul….but frankly, Egypt Air would have been a lot easier…thought not as nice….Presuming we were to have a rational pilot.

  4. NR Global Guest

    Some 15 years ago I smelled strong tobacco smoke coming from the cockpit of an Egyptian Airline flight and during take off the ‘Do not smoke’ sign above the seat dropped into my lap. Needless to say, I have never flown them again. Beautiful country and lovely people, notwithstanding.

  5. Darren C Member

    Smoking kills over 7 million people every year, more than 2 and a half years of Covid.

    Smoking should be banned in all public spaces.

    Cigarettes usually don't kill this quickly. But the only medical outcome of smoking is early death.

  6. Super VC10 Guest

    I swore-off ever again flying EgyptAir after the 1999 crash of flight 990. That was the JFK to Cairo 767 intentionally flown into the Atlantic Ocean by the co-pilot, while the captain was in the toilet. This co-pilot was about to be fired for having a record of exposing himself to hotel employees on layovers. With a very sick daughter in Cairo, who needed expensive medical care, this fellow apparently thought dying in a plane...

    I swore-off ever again flying EgyptAir after the 1999 crash of flight 990. That was the JFK to Cairo 767 intentionally flown into the Atlantic Ocean by the co-pilot, while the captain was in the toilet. This co-pilot was about to be fired for having a record of exposing himself to hotel employees on layovers. With a very sick daughter in Cairo, who needed expensive medical care, this fellow apparently thought dying in a plane crash would mean his family would be taken care of by EgyptAir. The details surrounding the suicide crash were bad enough, but EgyptAir’s absolute refusal to own-up to the cause of the crash was nothing short of disgusting. Equally pathetic was the United State’s decision not to press the matter, for fear of jeopardizing U.S. – Egypt relations.

    Plenty of airlines fly to Egypt. There’s no good reason to fly the country’s 3rd-rate ‘flag’ carrier. And with this latest revelation, there’s even more reason to book away from EgyptAir.

  7. Carl Behan Guest

    Masks may leak at the supply hose connection to the mask, but shouldn't even have oxygen being supplied to them during normal flight operations. This was a preflight operational check when I was part of a flight crew. Oxygen came from a demand type regulator with an "off, normal, and 100%" setting. The Airbus could have a different design, but it will have some type of on/off control. Unless the pilots left the regulator setting...

    Masks may leak at the supply hose connection to the mask, but shouldn't even have oxygen being supplied to them during normal flight operations. This was a preflight operational check when I was part of a flight crew. Oxygen came from a demand type regulator with an "off, normal, and 100%" setting. The Airbus could have a different design, but it will have some type of on/off control. Unless the pilots left the regulator setting at 100% inadvertently, it's hard to believe there could be such a high oxygen concentration in the cockpit considering the normal air turnover within the aircraft's normal system to create a fire from lighting or smoking a cigarette. It would require a loose, main supply line connector at the regulator from the onboard oxygen storage tank(s) plumbing, liquid or gaseous.

    1. Juan M Guest

      That was Ground Crew/maintenance fault. They left the masks on emergency mode by mistake, which caused the leak.

  8. Bob Guest

    I flew Egypt Air a few times and I have an acute sense of smell especially cigarettes.
    Midway through my flights I always noticed a distinct smell of smoke the flight attendants laughed it off when I asked and I later found out the pilots smoked in the cockpit. There you go.

  9. Donna Diamond

    Egypt Air has been at the top of my personal DNF list for two decades since the coverup of the suicide flight. This just adds another reason. China Southern is also on the list given their track record with smoking pilots in flight. @Justin Ross Lee, thanks for posting that video - says everything you need to know about how these airlines ignore regulations and the safety of the flying public. Disgusting at so many levels.

  10. stogieguy7 Diamond

    EgyptAir stereotype numbers 1 and 4 confirmed: irresponsible pilots (who are far from the most highly skilled) who smoke in the cockpit, combined with sloppy maintenance crew on ground who leaves the oxygen masks on emergency mode. Then we have the Egyptian government who lies their a**es off to save face, no matter what the evidence says or how obvious it is.

    Downgrade Egypt's aviation sector now. And EgyptAir should be banned from the...

    EgyptAir stereotype numbers 1 and 4 confirmed: irresponsible pilots (who are far from the most highly skilled) who smoke in the cockpit, combined with sloppy maintenance crew on ground who leaves the oxygen masks on emergency mode. Then we have the Egyptian government who lies their a**es off to save face, no matter what the evidence says or how obvious it is.

    Downgrade Egypt's aviation sector now. And EgyptAir should be banned from the EU and USA. There have been too many utterly irresponsible incidents caused by them that have led to tragedy.

  11. Ray Guest

    “ Unfortunately Egyptian authorities don’t have a great track record when it comes to transparency” period. That sentence ends there. FAA CAT. II for Egypt and EU ban on EgyptAir now.

  12. GG Guest

    Frankly, I never feel safe flying Islamic airlines.

    1. Max Guest

      Royal Jordanian, Qatar, Etihad, Oman Air, Gulf Air are reasonably safe, your way to/from the airport is more dangerous.

      Turkish Airlines on the other hand is run incredibly unprofessionally from a safety point of view. Their entire safety culture is rotten to the core.
      Same for the other smaller/poorer airlines from these countries.

    2. Matt Guest

      Care to expand on your comment regarding TK? What is the source of your information? I fly them regularly and would like to be aware of any safety deficiencies.

    3. Max Guest

      @Matt
      Check avherald.com and search for TK.

      They have a lot of ex-military pilots with a big ego and a rough flying style. Lots of botched landings are one of the results.

      Regulating authority is not independent and doing a bad job at oversight.

    4. John Guest

      My personal DNF list includes Turkish, Egypt Air, Air France (and lots of others).

      It pains me because they often have great J fares on the routes I fly.

    5. Chandan Bhat Member

      Not OP, But some Googling made me come across this, this is old and things might have changed for the better now, so take this with a grain of salt:

      https://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/471438-foreign-pilots-warn-about-turkish-airline-danish-news-paper-politikken.html

  13. Euro Member

    Um, shocking and bizarre if true...

    Also, EgyptAir 990 crashed in the Atlantic Ocean instead of on solid land. It was an accident that terrified me as a child because it was one of a few planes that crashed into the Atlantic around the late 1990s. I didn't know about what exactly happened until many years later while watching the Air Crash Investigation episode. I have since refused to fly on Egyptair and if this...

    Um, shocking and bizarre if true...

    Also, EgyptAir 990 crashed in the Atlantic Ocean instead of on solid land. It was an accident that terrified me as a child because it was one of a few planes that crashed into the Atlantic around the late 1990s. I didn't know about what exactly happened until many years later while watching the Air Crash Investigation episode. I have since refused to fly on Egyptair and if this accident report conclusion holds true then I'll continue to refuse flying on them.

  14. Jules Guest

    In 2018, I flew from Geneva to Jeddah on Saudia in J class and there was cigarette smoke coming out of the cockpit the entire flight. I assume the pilots were smoking. When I brought it up to the cabin crew and mentioned how unsafe this was, they simply denied it and started spraying air freshener.

  15. Justin Ross Lee Guest

    I knew it wasn't safe for there to be smoke in the cockpit in-flight. God forbid anyone (other than me) tells a China Southern pilot to put out their cancer sticks...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScdidQIkry0

    1. D3kingg Guest

      @Justin

      Cool video. I remember that.

    2. Icarus Guest

      Indeed, and as the BEA report confirmed smoking + leaking oxygen don’t mix, resulting in a tragedy.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Donna Diamond

Egypt Air has been at the top of my personal DNF list for two decades since the coverup of the suicide flight. This just adds another reason. China Southern is also on the list given their track record with smoking pilots in flight. @Justin Ross Lee, thanks for posting that video - says everything you need to know about how these airlines ignore regulations and the safety of the flying public. Disgusting at so many levels.

6
Ray Guest

“ Unfortunately Egyptian authorities don’t have a great track record when it comes to transparency” period. That sentence ends there. FAA CAT. II for Egypt and EU ban on EgyptAir now.

5
stogieguy7 Diamond

EgyptAir stereotype numbers 1 and 4 confirmed: irresponsible pilots (who are far from the most highly skilled) who smoke in the cockpit, combined with sloppy maintenance crew on ground who leaves the oxygen masks on emergency mode. Then we have the Egyptian government who lies their a**es off to save face, no matter what the evidence says or how obvious it is. Downgrade Egypt's aviation sector now. And EgyptAir should be banned from the EU and USA. There have been too many utterly irresponsible incidents caused by them that have led to tragedy.

4
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