The EgyptAir Crash

Update: July 6, 2016

Information from the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) of EgyptAir flight MS 804 indicates the crew was battling a fire. The cause of the fire isn’t known, but it seems to have been concentrated in the area of a forward lavatory and/or in the jet’s underfloor avionics compartment — an underfloor bay that houses electronic equipment. No transcript has been released yet, and details are still sketchy. The Airbus A320, bound from Paris to Cairo, crashed into the Mediterranean on May 18th.

Avionics bays are sometimes accessible from the cockpit or through a hatch in the forward cabin alcove, but most do not have built-in fire suppression or extinguishing systems the way cargo holds do.

The newest findings contradict the theory that a bomb brought the plane down — something that Egyptian authorities were insisting from the start, even with little or no evidence to support it.

The CVR was found under 10,000 feet of seawater. Vital as this recovery was, inflight emergencies can be complicated, and what the pilots say aloud doesn’t always paint the full picture. We’ll need the flight data recorder (FDR) logs to help with that. The CVR records conversation in the cockpit and between the pilots and air traffic control; the FDR tracks dozens, even hundreds, of status inputs from the plane’s internal systems and flight controls. Details from the FDR, which was damaged and had to be repaired by investigators in France, haven’t been made public yet. Even with all of the data available, it’s possible we will never know the exact source of the fire.

 

Update: May 22, 2016

Automated messages sent from the aircraft suggest that some type of fire had broken out prior to the crash. Whether this fire was caused by a bomb or other incendiary device, or by hazardous cargo, or by a malfunction in one of the plane’s systems, is so far unknown.

Meanwhile, some in the media have been making an issue over the lack of a distress call from the crew. This isn’t something to focus on, and is most likely meaningless. Communicating with air traffic control is not a priority when dealing with an onboard emergency. The task hierarchy calls first for dealing with the emergency itself: keeping the aircraft under control, troubleshooting the problem, running the checklists and so on. If and when time permits, ATC is brought into the loop. This is especially true if something happens during the cruise portion of flight — as it did in EgyptAir’s case — when communication matters are less urgent than they’d be during landing or departure.

 

Update: May 20, 2016

This again. David Soucie was on CNN this afternoon asking why we don’t have live streaming video from the cockpit of all commercial flights — something that CNN regular Miles O’Brien often advocates as well. Let me get this straight: you want to install live video feed, in real time, from each of the thirty thousand or so commercial airline flights that operate every day of the week. This data would be banked where, and by whom? And in the aftermath of a disaster, what would it show us? We’d see grainy footage of pilots dealing with something that the voice and data recorders (CVR and FDR) will tell us about in much greater detail later on. Even most serious malfunctions wouldn’t appear particularly dramatic, revealing themselves through system failures and whatnot depicted on the various cockpit screens and dials — data that would be difficult for cameras to record, and that, in any case, is already being recorded by the FDR. And in the event of something catastrophic, like a bomb, all you’re likely to see is the screen instantly going black. Or, if soemthing nefarious is going on, like a hijacking or other intentional act, the cameras could easily be disabled or covered over. To the media it’s a fantastic idea, because the cable channels would quickly have more pictures to tantalize us with. From an investigative point, however, this would be a gigantically expensive and complex investment for something that’d be of marginal help, and only in those exceptionally rare instances when the black boxes can’t be recovered.

I’m unsure how well, or how poorly, the cable networks been covering this particular crash. For the most part I haven’t been watching. CNN invited me on last week, but I was flying and unable to make the show. MSNBC called me as well. They asked me a few questions, then booked a different guest instead.

 

May 19, 2016

Some brief notes on the crash of flight MS804, the Airbus that disappeared late yesterday en route from Paris to Cairo.

At this point there’s little to go on, and the possibilities are many: sabotage, fire, hijacking, mechanical failure, crew error. It’s simply too early to know. People want fast and complete answers, but air crashes don’t yield to the insatiable demands of today’s 24/7 media. Evidence will reveal itself, literally piece by piece. It’s a slow process.

The jet reportedly made “sudden swerves” shortly before it disappeared from radar. Something, apparently, was going wrong, but such maneuvering is not, by itself, indicative of anything specific.

That said, the focus for now is on sabotage. Not because of any specific information — at least none that has been made public — but because, for better or worse, that’s the way we’re wired nowadays. (According to at least one online story, a threat was made against EgyptAir only days ago, targeting the exact aircraft — tail registration SU-GCC — that operated flight 804, but this story is unconfirmed and possibly a hoax.)

EgyptAir, meanwhile, has what many would describe as a spotty safety record. Among its fatal accidents was the 1999 pilot suicide that brought down flight MS990 after takeoff from JFK airport. I’m not entirely comfortable bringing this us up, however, as airline-to-airline safety comparisons are tricky. All large commercial carriers are safe. Some are statistically safer than others, but with accidents so few and far between, this is mainly an academic distinction. (For what it’s worth, which isn’t much, I flew EgyptAir only once, on a 60-minute hop up the Nile from Luxor to Cairo, and found the carrier no more or less professional than most other airlines.)

More worrisome, perhaps, is how the Egyptian authorities can be expected to handle the investigation. Despite all evidence to the contrary, the Egyptians still refuse to acknowledge the flight 990 findings, insisting that a bizarre malfunction, and not pilot suicide, was the culprit. And we still don’t have a clear understanding of what happened to the Russian jetliner that was bombed over the Sinai earlier this year.

The Airbus A320, which debuted in the late 1980s, is one of the most popular commercial jetliners ever built. Thousands are in service around the world. Catastrophic malfunctions can never be ruled out, but it’s unlikely that a defect in the aircraft itself was to blame.

 

Founded in 1932, EgyptAir is among the world’s oldest airlines. It flies a mixed Boeing/Airbus fleet of about sixty aircraft. The airline’s IATA code “MS” comes from the word Misr, the Arabic name for Egypt.

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54 Responses to “The EgyptAir Crash”
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  1. Renardo says:

    Everette Mash says “Pilots have had trouble flying their Airbus Jets at cruise…”.

    In general, this aspect might be worth investigating. However, in such a case one would expect to find distressed pilot conversation on the CVR, as in the case of AF 447. It’s also not unlikely that whatever made the FDR stop registering in mid-air made the whole plane unflyable.

  2. Everette Mash says:

    Pilots have had trouble flying their Airbus Jets at cruise after their autopilots switched off resulting in fatal crashes. Such as with Air France flight 447, Air Asia flight 8501 and now Egypt Air flight 804. The Investigators still do not know what brought down the Russian MetroJet A321 recent crash in the Egypt dessert. A bomb is suspected to be the cause of the crash but no evidence of a bomb was ever found even though the entire A321 remains have been recovered. I find this lack of evidence very suspective of Airbus by not revealing the real cause with their flight computers. I feel we will be seeing more similar Airbus crashes soon.

  3. Renardo says:

    On July 6 you wrote: “We’ll need the flight data recorder (FDR) for that. As of yet, it hasn’t been found.”

    Wikipedia says it was found one day after the voice recorder, on June 17: “On 16 June… The next day it was announced that the John Lethbridge had retrieved … the second black box—the flight data recorder (FDR).”

    • Patrick says:

      I have amended the story.

      Apparently the FDR was badly damaged and needed to be repaired in France, which is presumably why details from the recordings haven’t yet been publicized.

  4. Luke says:

    It seems that the plane was brought down by a fire in the avionics bay. Smoke rose into the cabin setting off lavatory fire alarms. The fire then progressed rapidly, likely destroying a hydraulic line leading to the nose landing gear. The plane’s hydraulic fluid burned/leaked through here and, without it, the plane was rendered uncontrollable, leading to the “sudden swerves.” The pilots may have attempted to use engine thrust in an attempt to control the aircraft, but to no avail. As the fire was in the avionics bay, it is possible that it destroyed the pilots means of talking to the controllers on the ground.

  5. Speed says:

    EgyptAir Flight 804 Flight Data Recorder Recovered

    Crash investigation team has now recovered most vital items

    Searchers recovered the flight data recorder from EgyptAir Flight 804, Egyptian officials said on Friday, a day after the plane’s cockpit voice recorder also was brought up from the Mediterranean Sea where the airplane crashed last month.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/egyptair-flight-804-flight-data-recorder-recovered-1466161472

  6. Speed says:

    From today’s Wall Street Journal …

    EgyptAir Flight 804 Black Box Recovered, Investigators Say

    Egypt officials say the cockpit voice recorder’s memory unit was retrieved
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/egyptair-flight-804-cockpit-voice-recorder-has-been-recovered-with-data-salvaged-investigators-say-1466084332?mod=fox_australian

  7. Speed says:

    From today’s Wall Street Journal …

    Airlines Seek Standard for Black-Box Alternatives

    DUBLIN—The airline industry wants to spell out in the coming months its preference on how to make it easier for aircraft accident investigators to more quickly recover vital data from crashes.

    The options under consideration, which include the streaming of plane data midflight, could lead to some of the biggest changes to crash probes in decades, and follow several accidents in which crash investigators have struggled to locate a downed plane’s so-called black boxes.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/airlines-seek-standard-for-black-box-alternatives-1464855972

  8. The issue with having the black box transmit to a satellite is technical; there are two ways to get a signal to a satellite:

    1. High power omnidirectional antenna, and hope that nothing obstructs the signal path.
    2. Focused antenna carefully aimed at the satellite – you can get gimbal systems that track satellites automatically after the initial lock, as long as the mounting point doesn’t move too much.

    The gimbal systems don’t work for this use case – they need the antenna pointed at the satellite, and can only follow a limited range of action. Good enough for a plane in normal flight – not good enough for a black box after a catastrophic airframe failure.

    High power means a much bigger, heavier black box than todays.

    And that’s ignoring the complexity of the transmitter – the “pings” are dead simple circuits (they send carrier only, no modulation), which means that it’s easy to make them reliable. A data transmitter is much more complex, and therefore more prone to failure (e.g. because the box took a hard hit).

  9. Joseph says:

    I think the concern people have about the current starting point for accident investigations is the sense that modern technology (perhaps not necessarily video) is not being implemented because the airlines prefer to penney pinch rather than put in place technologies designed to help quickly find the cause of an accident. Let me propose one and perhaps you can shoot it down. Rather than simply listening for the pings of the black box, how difficult would it be to have the black box immediately start transmitting the data on-board for a dedicated satellite to record? This way we don’t have to spend millions trying to find the black boxes and millions more to bring them to the surface if they are under the ocean. Is this really that difficult to implement or that expensive?

  10. Phil Knox says:

    Patrick,

    Technically (not to mention geographically) when going from Luxor to Cairo…you are traveling DOWN the Nile! 😉

    Cheers!

  11. Speed says:

    From Aviation Week on May 26 …


    The hope is that the [black box] recorders will shed light on what caused the aircraft to abruptly stop sending surveillance data from a quiescent cruise flight at 37,000 ft., and minutes later, crash into the ocean approximately 200 mi. north of Egypt’s coastline. Shortly before the data transmissions cut off at 2:27 a.m. Cairo time, the aircraft issued seven cryptic, autonomous messages through the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS).

    The messages, confirmed by Airbus and others, indicate window heat anomalies in the cockpit, smoke in a lavatory, avionics bay smoke, and several flight-control computer faults, but do not give clues as to the underlying issues on the aircraft. Smoke alerts are based on optical detectors. Rockwell Collins says the messages were routed through its air-to-ground data link communications service and sent to EgyptAir.

    “With the limited data available, the analysis of these messages does not allow us to establish the sequence of events that would explain the loss of flight MS804,” Airbus cautioned in an Accident Information Transmission …

  12. Speed says:

    From today’s Wall Street Journal …

    One concept Airbus is working on is a system to monitor parameters during a flight. If there are indications problems are arising, then the plane would automatically transmit more information which could later help investigators reconstruct what occurred, Mr. Champion said.

    The idea has made good progress, he said, with the biggest hurdle being affordable access to satellite bandwidth to handle such data.

    Whether that concept would have aided the Flight 804 probe is unclear.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/airbus-redoubles-efforts-to-find-new-ways-to-retrieve-crash-data-1464691976

  13. Go Fox says:

    Sweet Marie: Re: your inquiry about the food service vender for the Egyptair 804 in Paris, if you are wondering whether a fire was ignited by a coke can type bomb, as with the Sharm El Shaik (sp?) Egyptair downing, I doubt it. First, it has been reported that the A320 was exchanged for the B737 that had flown the earlier legs of the flight last minute, whatever that means, and that a B737 was customarily used for this flight. Thus, making it more difficult to plant the type of bomb needed to fit with the facts, i.e. not a coke can bomb.

    Second, as I understand it, the coke can bombs are detonated with an altitude trigger. The advantage to this type of device is it may be smaller and does not need to be accompanied by a passenger, as with the laptop computer bombs of late. An altitude triggered bomb, as with Pan Am 103 and the earlier Egypair crash noted above, however, would have triggered at about 21,000 feet, and so can be ruled out.

    Third, as I understand, a bomb with a timer trigger is a much larger and more sophisticated device. It would likely need to be planted by a baggage handler or the flight crew. Neither of these scenarios is likely considering the increased security in Paris and the unscheduled change of aircraft.

  14. Go Fox says:

    As I understand it from my limited knowledge as a layperson, with an Airbus dealing with an emergency, the pilot would ordinarily be tasked with flying the plane while the co-pilot would be responding to, and hopefully clearing, the error messages on a flight screen (please forgive my ignorance I don’t know what the screen is called). The often contradictory error messages can come fast and furious, demanding all of the co-pilot’s attention to address them. There simply may not have been time for the pilot to send out a pan pan pan or more detailed distress call. There have been recent claims that the pilot did, in fact, send out a distress call in the minutes before the plane dropped off the air traffic control screen. The content of the alleged distress call fits with the subsequent behavior of Egyptair 804, i.e. dropping to 15,000 feet and turning one direction and then another (left and then right in a circle?). The behavior of the Egyptair flight crew, as noted by a pilot above,reminds me of the Swissair 111 crash in 1998, which has been attributed to a fast moving electrical fire in the bulkhead (?) above the flight deck.

  15. Farrell says:

    Last night it seems that a number of outlets picked up on the story about authorities receiving “pings” from an Emergency Locator Transmitter, and that the airplane in question was equipped with three of these.

    What seems to be missing from these stories is exactly when the ELT transmissions were picked up.

    The ELTs that I’m familiar with (being a pilot) are designed to trigger upon receiving a physical shock above a certain magnitude. In other words they go off when the airplane crashes. Not a week or so afterwards. Also in order for the signal to be picked up, the ELT somehow would need to be above the ocean surface, not 10,000 feet below it.

    I suppose that this news is only coming out now, and that the ELT signal was indeed picked up shortly after the airplane came down (and before whatever part of the aircraft it was attached to sank).

  16. not an anon says:

    The BEA indeed is involved in the investigation.

  17. Mike says:

    The “task hierarchy” that Patrick refers to in his first paragraph is so well established that it has a shorthand: aviate, navigate, communicate (in order)

    According to the FAA: “Aviate, Navigate, Communicate” (A-N-C), is a phrase that has been used by pilots for many years. It’s a reminder of the pilot-in-command priorities during emergency situations, and can be used as a guide to create training scenarios.

    Aviate — Maintain control of the aircraft
    Navigate — Know where you are and where you intend to go
    Communicate — Let someone know your plans and needs

    https://www.faasafety.gov/gslac/ALC/course_content.aspx?cID=40

  18. Nicholas Robinson says:

    Swissair 111.

  19. Stephen R. Stapleton says:

    BTW, what happened to the math quiz before posting?

  20. Daniel Ullman says:

    I understand why it hasn’t happened but I curious why there isn’t a movement toward transmitting at least some of the flight data recorder data when certain conditions are met.

    • MS72 says:

      i’ll take a stab at why streaming from planes isn’t done.

      First, it costs, a lot. Plane manufactures would rather spend on safety, not crash analysis.
      2)The technology is not like wifi and cells do not exist everywhere. I don’t know the particulars, but reliable data from an airplane likely is SLOW.
      3) how much data is generated by all the flights in the world, where is it captured and stored, how much of it is needed (all unknowns that make this hard to solve).

      • Daniel Ullman says:

        Costs for both the manufactures and the airlines are the obvious reason. Also, the need to do it has been, until recently (and possibly still), questionable. That said, it is technologically doable now. VHF would cover most of the world.

        As noted, it would only happen if certain conditions were met so there wouldn’t be any question of storage.

  21. Stephen R. Stapleton says:

    May I ask an honest question?

    My iPhone has a set of canned responses when someone calls me. I can indicate, “Busy, can’t talk right now, “I’m on my way,” or “Can I call you later?” These don’t fit every situation, but are rather useful. Couldn’t we create a system of canned messages the flight crew could send with one flick of a button. Something like, “Hit by some object, causing serious issues,” “Apparent equipment failure,” “Explosive decompression,” or “Attempted takeover of fight”?

    I get that keeping the flight safe is the highest possible priority — as a passenger, I wouldn’t want it any other way — but leaving behind a clue if doing so only took a second seems very helpful. Given the simplicity of text messaging, I can’t believe adding that protocol to flight communications would be hugely difficult.

    • Daniel Ullman says:

      For hijacking anyway, setting the transponder to 7500, if my information isn’t out of date, will let everyone know you are being hijacked. At one point in time, this would require that the crew make up a story why the had to change it. Now a days I would suspect it is a button that is notably not labeled with the word “Hijack”.

      That said, this is a very good example of why the idea wouldn’t work. It wouldn’t be likely that a crew who is suddenly in an aircraft with a cascade of stuff that shouldn’t be happening would take the time to find and punch a button, especially since pressing a button and screaming into your microphone would take less time.

    • MS72 says:

      sure, i’ll try another:

      When a pilot is fighting to save a plane, even one second is too much to spare on an activity that doesn’t contribute to a positive outcome for life. Does sending out “SOS” save the ship?

      • Stephen R. Stapleton says:

        I get why the person actually trying to fly the plane might be otherwise well occupied, but what about the First Officer, the Navigator (if there is a third cabin crew member and please forgive me for not remembering what he supposed to be called, just give me credit for not using co-pilot), or perhaps even the head of the fight attending crew? There were, for example, six crew members on this EgyptAir flight. Surely (“And stop calling me Shirley”), not all of them were so occupied every moment not one of them had time to push a button. If, as is being suggested now, a bomb is what brought down the EgyptAir flight, a flight attendant might have noticed an explosion and pushed a button.

  22. trashcan86 says:

    Now that I think of it, couldn’t France or Germany have some jurisdiction over the investigation since it’s an Airbus jet, and they are built in both of those countries (for the 320 series it is Germany I think, and test regs are German).

  23. Phoenix says:

    Re: Express Blog APRIL 25, 2016. ROUTE MAP ENVY. 2/2

    4) Changing business & social links. The bulk of migrants came from Europe around World War 2, shifted towards South America in the ’60-’70s, is now shifting towards Asia and Middle East. These routes are much harder for the US3 to service (Trans-Pacific routes are longer than Trans-Atlantic or South American routes), although they now have the aircraft to do so cost-effectively.

    Controversial opinion: 5) End of US hegemony. This isn’t the Cold War anymore. Europe can now take care of themselves, so can Southeast Asia for the most part. China is now a world economic superpower. Gone are the days when the world needed to be babysat by the US and its businesses.

  24. Phoenix says:

    Re: Express Blog APRIL 25, 2016. ROUTE MAP ENVY.

    Short answer: because we don’t need to. Anymore.

    Long answer:
    1) Alliances & multilateral Joint Ventures. Star Alliance, oneworld, and Skyteam are designed to give travelers exactly what you wish for: global reach for any given traveler between any given countries. Booking and ticketing can now be done across airlines with coordinated schedules and connections with a couple of clicks, no need to keep your reservation on one airline for connections sake.

    Joint Ventures ensure routes are flown profitably by both nations’ carriers without overcapacity and needless competition.

    (yes I am ignoring 5th-6th-7th Freedoms for the purposes of argument)

    2) Rise of national flag carriers. Other countries don’t appreciate it when another country comes in and “steals” their business, especially when that country has an airline that can fly the route themselves. Furthermore, many nations are so small their flag carrier(s) flies the bulk of their capacity internationally ie. Middle East 3, Cathay Pacific, KLM, British Airways, Air New Zealand, El Al, Air Malta, etc

    3) Domestic operations in the US. Prior to the recent rounds of airline consolidations, there were 11 carriers all battling each other to the death (literally!) for business. Hard to grow your international operations when you’re being bled dry at home.

    1/2

  25. Sweet Marie says:

    The story about this plane being threatened a couple of days ago might be a hoax but this plane did have “We will bring this plane down” scribbled on the underside of it at the Cairo airport 2 years ago” New York Times is calling it an “eerie coincidence”.

    Threats by ISIS by way of a video that was released days before the crash featured an Air France plane and a young boy vowing to die as a martyr on the shores of the west. Other reports are also saying threats had been made to Egypt although not specifically what or how.

    I imagine this is why both the US and Egypt were quick to call it terrorist related.

  26. Nonoti says:

    On the comment of the live video streaming, its silly to stream it – but what about multiple cameras onboard logging to the Black Box? With high enough video compression it should be possible have cameras in almost all cabin classes, avionics, cockpit, toilets etc. Privacy is not an issue because that data is stored on the Black Box which – afaik – would only be used in the event of a catastrophe.

    One thing i am still adamant should be done, is live-stream all flight-data recorder info, sensor info and the cockpit voice recorder data off-site. I know it might be a lot of data but if there’s no significant event the data can be deleted or archived on cheap storage after a period of time.

    Yes I know we can recover black boxes, but it appears to always be a case of “well, its somewhere in the ocean over here *draws big fat circle* and we’re still looking for it.

    I cannot understand why, until the plane is actually under water, some redundant system cant keep broadcasting GPS data off-site every 30 or less seconds?

    I find it hard to fathom that in 2016 I can chat to my friends on WhatsApp and send an array of business emails through in-flight Wi-Fi using Satellite OR be in the desert with a hand-held device tracking and sending my every move via Satellite yet we cant send a constant GPS location stream to an off-site system using a closed-circuit redundant component that wont stop doing that unless its under water or it itself is blown to smithereens?

    • Speed says:

      Battle Shapes Up Over Video Cameras in Airline Cockpits
      http://www.wsj.com/articles/battle-shapes-up-over-video-cameras-in-airline-cockpits-1430696606

      While I understand why people advocate for technological upgrades that will send all aircraft data (and with video, more data) to a terrestrial network where it can be monitored and saved (or saved and reviewed), without detailed definitions of the technology, hardware and cost as well as the specific benefits, the idea is only that. An idea. Just because technology is available to send emails from seat 23B to your office or communicate using a SPOT tracker doesn’t mean that it can be scaled up to aircraft standards and airline volume and work reliably over the mid-Pacific or Indian Ocean at a reasonable cost.

      Lets see about getting NextGen — a technology with real safety and financial benefits — up and running first.

    • Nicholas Robinson says:

      As usual, there is more to the reluctance of flight crews to be live-streamed in any capacity than meets the eye. I imagine it’s more something to do with privacy in the workplace; no crew would want to have to be careful, for example, of swearing on camera or critiquing their employer if the Company could potentially review the tapes at their leisure and censure the “culprit” with termination or other punishment.

      Just a thought. Patrick?

      • Nonoti says:

        True Nicholas,

        However you make the video available ONLY for critical investigative purposes. As much as I don’t think any airlines actually play-back “black box” cockpit recordings just for their own info, the camera footage would be private. It would only be non-private in the event of a catastrophe in which case I dont think the crew would mind anyway…

        I see now CNN is saying that the Egyptians are saying the black boxes could be “missing”….

        its just more Govt nonsense standing in the way. I really wish they choose a global single entity like the NTSB who are the only ones mandated to find, handle and check Black Boxes and at least we would get the truth…

  27. Speed says:

    The Wall Street Journal (and others I imagine) has a brief and mostly factual piece this morning. The key parts …

    EgyptAir Flight 804 sent automated warning messages minutes before it went down indicating smoke was detected in the aircraft’s nose … The messages were sent automatically from the plane by onboard systems immediately before all contact was lost … The messages indicate the flight-control system had failed … But that data alone so far isn’t conclusive enough for experts to determine why the Airbus Group SE A320 jetliner went down … The information suggested the A320 suffered a series of problems starting at 2:26 a.m. local time, before contact with the plane was lost …

    The messages, transmitted by the plane’s Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System, indicated that intense smoke set off smoke detectors in the front of the jetliner, where some of its vital electronics are located. Messages also suggest damage to the right-side cockpit windows.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/egypt-debris-from-egyptair-flight-804-found-in-the-mediterranean-1463737727

    Anything else at this time is speculation.

  28. Sweet Marie says:

    Patrick – I have been trying to find something that relates to the exact targeting of this particular plane. Could you provide a link?

    Also, what is the security like for the food vendors inside the concourse that sell items you can bring onboard?

    I also could not agree with you more on the cockpit video suggestion. It is ridiculously unwieldy. I never thought about the angle that the news outlets only want more video but now I see why they love the idea.

    Thank you very much

  29. JamesP says:

    “To the media it’s a fantastic idea, because the cable channels would quickly have more pictures to tantalize us with.”

    Exactly.

  30. Will from Minnesota says:

    Thanks Patrick — I’ve been wanting to ‘Ask the Pilot’ ever since hearing the news. I’m always glad to get to see these somewhat-frequent-seeming-nowadays aviation mysteries from your thoughtful viewpoint. This latest situation was/is pushing my Egypt buttons, so I really dug your observations, good stuff… cheers! 🙂

  31. LKofEnglish says:

    I must say I’m still interested in the decompression and then crash of 2 time US Open winner and PGA tour professional Payne Stewart’s professionally piloted and leased Lear Jet. It’s 17 years on and I still have no idea how that “accident” occurred.

    As with all these matters when there are no survivors at a certain level there is no way of knowing. The response to the Egypt Air “disappearance” has been poor to the point of non existent though. Everyone knows every aircraft worldwide is followed in real time now so “accidents” are an impossibility in this industry. What this feels like to me as a former soldier is an opening gambit in a war actually…but everyone will have to see how the “story” shakes out first of course.

    • Speed says:

      35 pages describing a thorough investigation ends this way …

      The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause of this accident was incapacitation of the flight crewmembers as a result of their failure to receive supplemental oxygen following a loss of cabin pressurization, for undetermined reasons.

      http://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Reports/AAB0001.pdf

      Several possible causes were considered but there was not enough evidence to blame any one.

  32. Phoenix says:

    Since you brought up The Media, Fox is already hitting the Big-T alarm bells and CNN is already, well, Don Lemon is on the case!

    My biggest eyeroll is reserved for Donald Trump. Aviation expert and humanitarian has already tweeted what he thinks…..

  33. Nicholas Robinson says:

    I have a more pressing question: is Greg Feith *getting younger?* It’s either that or they’re using old Mayday footage of him talking about Egyptair 990.

    Patrick, when you go on CNN (which is sure to happen any hour now) please ask Greg where he got his time machine. I want one.

  34. JuliaZ says:

    According to the BBC, the wreckage of EgyptAir flight MS804 has been found south of the Greek island of Karpathos. It seems like they will be able to find the flight recorders and determine what’s likely to have brought it down. Whether that information will be communicated accurately and publicly remains to be seen, of course. Lucky that the plane did not have a full load, but any loss of life is sad.

    • JuliaZ says:

      But even the Beeb can get it wrong. 2 minutes ago, from the AP:
      “8:55 p.m.

      A senior Greek air safety official says the debris found so far in the Mediterranean Sea does not belong to an aircraft.

      An EgyptAir Airbus A320 crashed into the Mediterranean Sea early Thursday while carrying 66 passengers and crew from Paris to Cairo, and authorities have been scouring a wide area south of Crete to look for plane debris.

      But Athanassios Binis, head of Greece’s Air Accident Investigation and Aviation Safety Board, told state ERT TV that “an assessment of the finds showed that they do not belong to an aircraft.” He says Thursday this has been confirmed by Egyptian authorities.”

      It’s going to take a while to sort this whole thing out, for sure, but it seems likely they will given the density of the area and its characteristics. Much easier than the remote Indian Ocean!

  35. David says:

    Thanks for the blog post. After hearing about the missing aircraft this morning, I immediately came to your site looking for sanity. The constant media speculation is annoying.

  36. Drew says:

    Source for this note?

    “According to at least one emerging story, a threat was made against EgyptAir only days ago, targeting the exact aircraft (tail registration SU-GCC) that operated flight 804.”

    Troubling if confirmed.

  37. RV says:

    This evokes memories of EgyptAir 990; and, the handling of that investigation indicates that we are very unlikely to ever hear the truth.

    • Nicholas Robinson says:

      But I know exactly what happened.

      It was a rapperon hardover.

      • Speed says:

        Rapperon may be the only eight letter word not findable by Google or Bing. But you’re in luck. rapperon.com is available.

        • Nicholas Robinson says:

          I think that guy Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) who flies his own 747 calls his dog “Rapperon.”

          But don’t quote me.

    • Nonoti says:

      Finding the truth appears rare these days 🙁

      Since its the public flying on these things, it should be a global rule that Blackbox/recorder info must be released to public entities (not media) immediately on discovery and as the investigation starts.

      That way if the official statement is “pilot error” and yet the experienced public who also cross-check the evidence find a large explosion and fire alarms going off we know there’s a hole in the story…

      Stories where a Black Box is whisked away to Russia, Egypt or wherever first before the NTSB or other people see it clearly leaves it open to tampering. Hell is might not even be the same device that makes it back for the official investigation..