EgyptAir A320 Accident Facts

On May 19th 2016, an EgyptAir Airbus A320-200, registration SU-GCC performing flight MS-804 (dep May 18th) from Paris Charles de Gaulle (France) to Cairo (Egypt) with 56 passengers and 10 crew, was enroute at FL370 over the Mediterranean Sea about 130nm north of Alexandria (Egypt) and about 210nm north-northwest of Cairo when the transponder signals of the aircraft ceased at 02:33L (00:33Z). The aircraft was located crashed in the Mediterranean Sea, there were no survivors.

egyptair-airbus-a320-232

Photo (C) András Soós https://www.planespotters.net/photo/695802/su-gcc-egyptair-airbus-a320-232

The jetliner departed Paris at 11:09 p.m. on Wednesday. The pilot spoke to Greek air traffic controllers at 2:26 a.m. and nothing seemed out of the ordinary, officials said. Three or four minutes later, the plane made its last normal radar contact.

At 2:37 a.m., shortly after entering Egyptian airspace, the plane made a 90-degree turn to the left and then a full circle to the right, first plunging to 15,000 feet from 37,000 feet and then to 9,000 feet. At that point, it disappeared from radar.

egyptair-airbus-a320-232 playback

Playback of EgyptAir flight MS804 / MSR804  https://www.flightradar24.com/data/flights/ms804#9c0b766

 

Status: Preliminary
Date: Thursday 19 May 2016
Time: 02:29
Type: Airbus A320-232
Operator: EgyptAir
Registration: SU-GCC
C/n / msn: 2088
First flight: 2003-07-25 (12 years 10 months)
Engines: 2 IAE V2527-A5
Crew: Fatalities: 10 / Occupants: 10
Passengers: Fatalities: 56 / Occupants: 56
Total: Fatalities: 66 / Occupants: 66
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location: ca 200 km N of Egyptian coast (   Mediterranean Sea)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature: International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport: Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG/LFPG), France
Destination airport: Cairo International Airport (CAI/HECA), Egypt
Flightnumber: MS804

The Captain: Mohamed Saeed Shaqeer, 36 years old with  6,275 hours of total flying time, including 2,101 hours in type.

The First Officer: Mohamed Ahmed Mamdouh, 24 years old with 2,766 hours of total flying time.

An Egyptian Interior Ministry official said the men had no known political affiliations and had passed their periodic background security checks.

On May 19th, 2016 Paris states attorney has opened an investigation into the disappearance of the aircraft but cautioned, that a mechanical failure or other causes besides terrorism have not been ruled out at this point. No credible claims of downing the aircraft have been made so far.

On May 20th, 2016 The Aviation Herald received information from three independent channels, that ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) messages with following content were received from the aircraft:

00:26Z 3044 ANTI ICE R WINDOW
00:26Z 561200 R SLIDING WINDOW SENSOR
00:26Z 2600 SMOKE LAVATORY SMOKE
00:27Z 2600 AVIONICS SMOKE
00:28Z 561100 R FIXED WINDOW SENSOR
00:29Z 2200 AUTO FLT FCU 2 FAULT
00:29Z 2700 F/CTL SEC 3 FAULT
no further ACARS messages were received.

This information was confirmed by the French Bureau de Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la sécurité de l’aviation civile-BEA and by Airbus as authentic but both organizations stated  that they are insufficient to understand the causes of the accident.

Airbus explained the “ANTI ICE R WINDOW” message was triggered by the Window Heat Computer #2 as well as the related 2 maintenance messages corresponding to the temperature sensors of the 2 right cockpit windows. The two smoke messages were triggered by their respective optical detectors. Airbus stated: “With the limited data available, the analysis of these messages does not allow to establish the sequence of events that would explain the loss of flight MS804. Pending more data become available (in particular flight data recorders and aircraft parts), Airbus has no specific recommendation to raise at this stage of the investigation.”

Accident Investigation Commission stated this morning they are currently collecting information from documentation of the aircraft, documentation of crew, documents from air traffic control and information from data management systems.  The Commission annotated that it is too early to draw conclusions from a single source like the ACARS messages.

The Commission is already supported by specialists and investigators from various participating countries, including experts from BEA and Airbus. Priority as of current is to find the wreckage and the recorders. Searchers are focused on an area of the Mediterranean Sea between Alexandria, Egypt, and the Greek island of Crete.

According to Ayman al-Moqadem, head of Egypt’s Air Accidents Investigation department an Interim Report  “will be published in one month … and will include all the information gathered by the date of its publication”.

On Jun 16th, 2016 Egypt’s CAA reported, that the vessel “John Lethbridge” managed to retrieve the cockpit voice recorder in several stages as the CVR had been damaged, however, the most important part, the memory unit, has been brought to the surface. The cockpit voice recorder memory module is now being handed over to the accident investigation commission for readout and analysis.

On Jun 29th, 2016 Egypt’s CAA reported that the flight data recorder has been successfully downloaded, more than 1200 parameters are being decoded and validated. Data are present from departure at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris until the aircraft was at FL370 just after the ACARS messages were transmitted, the data are consistent with the ACARS messages of lavatory and avionics bay smoke. Recovered wreckage parts from the forward section of the aircraft show severe heat damage and evidence of thick black smoke (soot). The investigation is going to undertake comprehensive analysis to try to determine the source and cause of the fire.

On Jul 16th, 2016 Egypt’s CAA reported that first analysis of the cockpit voice recorder found the existence of “fire” on board was mentioned. The CAA cautions that it is still too early to determine the cause and the location of the fire.

On Dec 15th, 2016 Egypt’s Civil Aviation Authority announced, that forensic examination on behalf of the Accident Investigation Commission has found traces of explosives on some of the human remains recovered. In accordance with Egypt law, the state prosecutor has been informed, a technical commission formed by the prosecution office have opened their investigation into the crime

Sources:

  1. The Aviation Herald. http://avherald.com/h?article=4987fb09&opt=0
  2. The Aviation Safety Network. https://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=20160519-0
  3. Flightradar24. https://www.flightradar24.com/data/flights/ms804#9c0b766
  4. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/live/egyptair-flight-missing-paris-cairo/pilot-and-co-pilot-identified-by-egyptair
  5. Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-egyptair-airplane-report-idUSKCN0YC0Q0
  6. The Guardian. Traces of explosives found on EgyptAir crash victims say authorities
  7.  Mirror. ‘Traces of explosives’ found on victims of EgyptAir crash that killed 66http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/traces-explosives-found-victims-egyptair-9464325

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Right after Runway Excursions, Loss of Control In-flight (LOC-I) was the second category of airplane and helicopter accidents and the leading cause of fatalities in commercial aviation between 2010 and 2014. (IATA Safety Report 2014) (EASA Annual Safety Review 2013)

Loss of Control In-flight (LOC-I) refers to accidents in which the flight crew was unable to maintain control of the aircraft in flight, resulting in an unrecoverable deviation from the intended flight path.

While few in number, LOC-I accidents are almost always catastrophic; 97% of LOC-I accidents between 2010 and 2014 involved fatalities to passengers and/or crew. Over this period, 9% of all accidents were categorized as LOC-I. LOC-I accidents contributed to 43% of fatalities during the past five years (1,242 out of 2,541). There were six LOC-I accidents in 2014, all of which involved fatalities. Given this severity, LOC-I accidents represent the highest risk to aviation safety.

It is recognized that accidents are generally the consequence of a chain of events, and not the result of just one causal factor.

Analysis of LOC-I accident data indicated that LOC-I can result from engine failures, icing, stalls or other circumstances that interfere with the ability of the flight crew to control the motion of the aircraft. It is one of the most complex accident categories, involving numerous contributing factors that act individually or, more often, in combination. These contributing factors include latent conditions in the system, external threats to the flight crew, errors in the handling of those threats and undesired aircraft states from deficiencies in managing these threats or errors

There are multiple paths that lead to LOC-I situations, such as inadequate crew resource management, high fatigue levels among crew members, lack of manual handling skills in general and in particular on the edge of the flight envelope, over-reliance on automation and, last but not least, design issues.

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Posts in this blog:

Human Factors in Aviation

Accidents/Incidents investigation

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