Statement on the investigation procedures of EgyptAir A320 accident of flight number MS804, which was downed in the Mediterranean Sea on 19th of May 2016



 

Since the first day of the crash of EgyptAir A320 in the Mediterranean Sea while conducting its flight number MS804 from Charles De Gaulle airport to Cairo airport on 19 May 2016; All concerned entities of the Egyptian government joined efforts to provide all possible facilitations and support required in the search process for the aircraft. As soon as the aircraft was reported missing, the investigation procedures were initiated; as the Technical Investigation Committee started immediately investigating data; in coordination with specialists representing the aircraft accident' investigation authorities of the concerned countries. Procedures taken were in accordance with the Laws of the Egyptian Civil Aviation and the Legislation of the (ICAO) International Civil Aviation Organization (Annex 13 to the Chicago Convention of 1944). The Ministry of Civil Aviation of Egypt was keen to inform the public of the progress of the technical investigation and all developments related to the accident, where statements were issued from the first hour of the accident forming a total of 26 investigation reports.
The Investigation Committee followed up the procedures of searching and retrieving the wreckage of the aircraft at the site of its crash at the Mediterranean Sea, where the Egyptian naval vessels surveyed the area and retrieved some floating parts of the wreckage in the presence of members of the Technical Investigation Committee; and with the participation of a vessel of the French Navy;. Priority was given to the recovery of the bodies of the victims and allocating the spot of the two black boxes of the aircraft, through the use of the latest and most advanced devices in this field; on top of which was the use of the devices of ALSEAMAR company which were brought onboard of "La place" which is the vessel provided by the French Government. Other devices with high signal capture and sonar scanning capability were used on John Lethbridge, the vessel contracted by the Ministry of Civil Aviation with Deep Ocean Search company (DOS); with the aim of diversifying research methods and achieving them in shortest time possible.
During the search, the devices of the French vessel "la Place" received from the seabed signals of one of the flight data recorders. The search efforts were intensified to locate the recorder in preparation for its retrieval by John Lethbridge; the vessel leased by the Egyptian government which reached the port of Alexandria on the 9th of June 2016 to carry out its search mission; where all facilitations and logistic support were given to the vessel in coordination with all concerned entities of Egypt.
On the 10th of June 2016; John Lethbridge left the port of Alexandria and headed to the search site and on the 15th of June; the vessel identified several major sites of the wreckage, and the Investigation Committee was handed the first images taken for the wreckage; consequently the search team and investigators on board of the vessel drew up a map for the wreckage distribution spots on the seabed.  On the 16th of June 2016, the vessel found one of the black boxes and it was recovered but was in a damaged condition. At the dawn of the following day; the vessel succeeded in retrieving the other black box. Both boxes were transferred to Alexandria; and were received by the Public Prosecutors, members of the investigation committee; and the accredited representative of France and his advisors; then they were handed over to the Technical Investigation Committee of the accident to take over the procedures of checking and unloading of data and conversations at the labs of the Central Department for Aircraft Accident Investigation at the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
At the labs of Central Department for Aircraft Accident Investigation; the memory units of the two recorders were extracted and it was found that it needs to go through drying process; afterwards electronic tests on the memory units of the two recorders were conducted; in the presence of the accredited representative of France and his advisors. It is worth mentioning that accredited representative of the United States of America as the aircraft engine manufacturer and his consultant; an expert from Honeywell which is the recorders manufacturer; also joined the investigation committee.
As the memory units of the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) were damaged, the test readings did not match the standard measurements of the recorders' manufacturer; accordingly the investigation Committee accompanied the electronic boards of the two boxes to the State of France for the removal of the saline deposits and repair of the two devices at the laboratory of the French Bureau of investigation and analysis (Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses (BEA), that was in the presence of both the French accredited representative and the accredited representative of the United States of America and his expert adviser from Honeywell.
After the repair of the electronic boards of the aircraft recorders and conducting several intensive tests; the result came as positive as it showed the possibility of reading the recordings of the two memory units.
The members of the Technical Investigation Committee returned to Cairo with the boards to continue work and reading the contents of the recorders as well as analyzing them at the laboratories of the Ministry of Civil Aviation of Egypt.  After the FDR data were uploaded and examined by the experts; the results indicated that the flight data had been recorded since the departure of the plane from Charles de Gaulle Airport until it stopped at 37000 thousand feet where the accident occurred. The recorded data of the recorder matched the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) messages which indicated smoke in the lavatory and smoke from the avionics compartment. When the CVR data was unloaded, conversation at the cabin prior to the accident at was heard, which mentioned the word fire.
Consequently the Technical Investigation Committee made a chronological linkage between the data extracted from FDR and the voices recorded on CVR.
In the meantime; John Lethbridge recovered all the human remains that were spotted at the crash location; in the presence of Egyptian and French forensic experts on board. As the Egyptian government was keen to ensure that all human remains are recovered and that it stands in solidarity with the families of the victims, it was decided to extend the mission of John Lethbridge for two additional periods, to conduct a new scan of the seabed and to search for any other remains until it is fully ascertained that there are no human remains at the crash scene.
The human remains of the victims were handed to the Public Prosecutors and to accredited representatives of the Egyptian forensic medicine institution; in the presence of members of the Technical Investigation Committee and the Egyptian and French forensic doctors. Immediately the human remains were transferred to the Egyptian forensic medicine institution in Cairo in order to carry out the standard measures.
In September 2016; the Central Department for Aircraft Accident Investigation at the Ministry of Civil Aviation received reports of the forensic Medicine of the Arab Republic of Egypt; concerning the bodies of the victims; which indicated finding traces of explosive materials in some human remains. Reference to Article No. (108) of the Civil Aviation Law No. 28 for the year 1981, and its amendments; which provides that in case the Technical Investigation Committee suspects the existence of any criminal act behind the accident, it shall inform the public prosecution and therefore the Technical Investigation Committee had referred the matter to the public Prosecution; while availing its expertise under the disposal of the public prosecution. Noteworthy; investigation is still in progress by the Egyptian public prosecution.