Doomed EgyptAir flight had 'chaotic' last moments
The final moments of EgyptAir flight 804 saw trouble in the cockpit, smoke in a plane lavatory and alarms screeching, leaked flight data, which included a three-minute period of contact, showed.
While it remains too early to determine what happened to the aircraft, according to officials, mounting evidence points to a sudden dramatic catastrophe, leading to the plane's crash into the eastern Mediterranean early Thursday.
"All the hypotheses are being examined," France's foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said.
Egyptian military released on Saturday the first images of aircraft debris retrieved from the sea, which included personal items and damaged plane seats.
The Facebook page of the chief spokesman for Egypt's military showed the first photographs of debris from the plane, shredded remains of plane seats, life jackets — one seemingly undamaged — and a scrap of cloth that might be part of a baby's purple-and-pink blanket.
Final communication with EgyptAir Flight 804
- The first available audio from the doomed flight indicates that all was routine as the pilot checked in with air traffic controllers in Zurich, Switzerland, around midnight, before being handed over to Italian air traffic controllers in Padua [Padova].
The spokesman, Brig-Gen. Mohammed Samir, later posted a video showing what appeared to be a piece of blue carpet, seat belts, a shoe and a white handbag.
The clip opened with aerial footage of an unidentified navy ship followed by a speedboat heading toward floating debris.
Egypt is leading a multi-nation effort to search for the plane's black boxes, the flight data and cockpit voice recorders, as well as other clues that could help explain the aircraft's sudden plunge into the sea.
"If they lost the aircraft within three minutes that's very, very quick," said aviation security expert Philip Baum, "They were dealing with an extremely serious incident."
"Fires happen aboard aircraft, but they don't usually result in the destruction of the aircraft in three minutes," Baum said.
Authorities say the plane lurched left, then right, spun all the way around and plummeted 38,000 feet [11,582 meters] into the sea - never issuing a distress call.
Egyptian authorities believe terrorism is a more likely explanation than equipment failure while aviation experts say the erratic finale to the flight suggests a bomb blast or struggle in the cockpit.
Another EgyptAir flight faces technical problems in Saudi airport
Meanwhile, an EgyptAir flight faced technical failure during landing at the Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz Airport in Medina city in Saudi Arabia on Saturday evening.
The plane, which was traveling from Borg el-Arab airport near Alexandria, faced malfunction in its undercarriage while attempting to land on the Medina Airport runway.
Problems in the aircraft's landing gear led the plane to suddenly stop on the runway, disrupting airfield traffic.
A state of emergency was immediately declared in the airport and all 139 passengers were evacuated off the aircraft and no injuries reported.
Agencies contributed to this report.