Mystery Depends Over EgyptAir Crash

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Cairo: The pilot of the doomed EgyptAir flight spoke to air traffic control in Egypt for several minutes just before the plane crashed, a French television station claimed last night.

M6 said that the pilot told Cairo control about the smoke which had engulfed parts of the aircraft and decided to make an emergency descent to try to clear the fumes.

This account directly contradicts the official claim that there was no distress call from the plane. M6’s story, quoting unnamed French aviation officials, was not confirmed by the French air accident investigation agency, the BEA. No such information had been passed by the Egyptian authorities to three BEA investigators who had flow to Cairo to take part in the official inquiry, the agency said.

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 M6 said that the pilot of the Egyptair A320 had “a conversation several minutes long” with Cairo air traffic control after the plane ran into difficulties in the early hours of Thursday morning.

As a result of the conversation, the pilot decided to make an “emergency descent”, depressurising the cabin, in an attempt to clear smoke fumes which had invaded the front of the aircraft.

Just after the Paris-Cairo flight vanished on Thursday, there were contradictory claims about distress calls or signals. An airline spokesman initially said that there had been a distress call from the airbus. This statement was denied by the Egyptian military and withdrawn by EgyptAir.