|© Photograph by Khaled Desouki AFP/Getty Images|
A picture taken on September 30, 2015 shows an EgyptAir
plane on the tarmac of Cairo International Airport.
by David Z. Morris, msn.com, 16 January 2017
French investigators think the batteries in a co-pilot's iPad mini 4 or iPhone 6s may have caused the mysterious crash of EgyptAir flight MS804, which went down on May 19th of last year. All 66 people onboard were killed.
The theory-and so far, it is only a theory-was disclosed to French newspaper Le Parisien by sources within the investigation. It contradicts claims by Egyptian investigators, who had previously speculated that the plane was targeted by terrorists, based on traces of explosives found in victim's bodies.
But French investigators have said data show a fire, not an explosion, was to blame. Black box data from the plane showed that a fire broke out somewhere in or near the plane's cockpit before the plane crashed. Onboard voice recordings also indicate a fire.
Video from Charles de Gaulle airport showed the plane's co-pilot placing his iPhone 6S and iPad Mini on top of the plane's instrument panel before the plane's departure, along with several bottles of perfume. That's the precise location where the first automatic warning messages identified problems, moments before the plane went down.
Extended exposure to direct sunlight could have triggered the phenomenon known as thermal runaway that is at the root of most battery explosions. The FAA has recorded at least 140 known incidents of batteries exploding on planes, including fatal crashes of cargo planes carrying batteries in bulk. Many passenger airlines have banned the shipment of phone batteries as cargo, and banned products like battery-powered scooters for similar reasons.
Though the evidence in the EgyptAir incident so far seems circumstantial, the exploding-iPhone theory is now at the heart of the investigation, according to Le Parisien.
For its part, Apple told the newspaper it had not been contacted by investigators, and that we rigorously test our products to ensure that they meet or exceed international safety standards.