EgyptAir 804: And the Search Goes On…

No news is no news.  As of this moment, there have been reports that one of the pingers on one of the recorders of EgyptAir 804 has been heard.  So far however, no aircraft.

Even if the pingers have been heard, searchers still have to locate the recorders, which, reportedly, are located in water as deep as 10,000 feet.  Then they have to recover them.  The bottom line is that there’s still a lot to be accomplished before we, hopefully, know what happened to EgyptAir 804.

Meanwhile, the story has pretty much fallen off the front page and, doesn’t appear to qualify as “Breaking News,” even if we use the somewhat expansive definition of CNN.

Under ICAO Annex 13, Egypt is leading the investigation since they are the “state” of registry of the aircraft.  France is an accredited representative, as is the United States, the former because it was an Airbus aircraft, the latter because the engines were manufactured in the U.S.  The responsibility for determining probable cause and writing the report resides with Egypt.

The most notable interaction between U.S. and Egypt in the context of an aircraft accident came in the context of the 1999 crash of EgyptAir Flight 990.  In that investigation, to make a long story short, the NTSB concluded the cause of the crash and the death of all on-board was suicide by the relief co-pilot.  The Egyptian Government however, in a diametrically opposed result, concluded the cause was a defect in the aircraft.

If one reads the record, there is no question but that the NTSB, the world standard in accident investigation, got it 100 percent right.  It wasn’t even a close call.

One could argue there was a genuine basis for disagreement regarding the results of the investigation.  However, the reality is that the vehement disagreement of the Egyptian investigation with what was so clearly suicide, was, and likely continues to be, national pride and the simple refusal to acknowledge that suicide by a pilot for its national airline could be responsible for such a horrific act.

Well, here we are, not quite 20 years later and all we have is questions and speculation about EgyptAir 804.  Let’s hope that we don’t have a repeat of what occurred surrounding the investigation of EgyptAir 990 in 1999.  We have no reason to believe that such a thing would occur, but Plane-ly Spoken would not have ever believed it could have occurred about 20 years ago.  If it were to happen again, that would qualify as “Breaking News!”