Egypt plane crash investigators differ

Egyptian investigators have said technical failures caused a January 2004 crash of a passenger jet carrying French tourists from a Red Sea resort that killed all 148 on board.

    The plane crashed in Red Sea minutes after take-off (file)

    But a French team blamed the Egyptian crew, saying they failed to react quickly enough.


    On Saturday, transcripts from the cabin of Flash Airlines flight FSH604 showed confusion among the crew and problems in switching on the automatic pilot in the seconds after take-off from the resort of Sharm el-Sheik before they realised the plane was veering sharply to the right and began trying to correct it.


    The plane crashed into the Red Sea about three minutes after take-off.


    The Boeing 737 was carrying 134 French tourists returning home to Paris from the popular resort on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, as well as a Moroccan and 13 Egyptians.


    A news conference on Saturday announcing the results of the investigation showed tension between the Egyptian and French investigators.


    Technical fault


    The report issued by the Egyptian commission leading the inquiry listed several technical causes for the crash - a fault in the airelons, which control the aircraft's roll; a temporary jam in a cable or wheel in the left spoiler, a plate on the wing that regulates lift; or a fault in the mechanism for turning on the autopilot.


    As an "exacerbating factor", the report said that Khadr Abdullah, the Egyptian pilot, appeared to have been disoriented about the plane's position as the craft apparently banked too far.


    All 148 on board the plane died
    in the crash

    But Paul-Louis Arslanian, head of the team from France's Accident Analysis Bureau, told the news conference that the "human factor had a large role" in the accident and blamed "the failure of the crew to quickly deal with the situation".


    Shaker Kaladah, the head of the Egyptian investigation, disputed that, saying the crew's reaction was "one of several factors ... there is no direct evidence that the crew was the direct cause.


    "The human factor was studied by a team of psychological experts, and it was found that the human factor enters into the accident, but is not the sole cause." 


    Though the report listed possible causes, it could not pin down a definitive reason for the crash.


    "No conclusive evidence could be found ... to determine a probable cause," the report said. However, "any combination of these findings could have caused or contributed to the accident".

    SOURCE: Agencies


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