Date
29 May 2017
Debris recovered by the Egyptian military that may have come from the downed EgyptAir flight. Photo: AFP/Egyptian military
Debris recovered by the Egyptian military that may have come from the downed EgyptAir flight. Photo: AFP/Egyptian military

Safety experts concerned about handling of EgyptAir crash probe

Aviation safety experts are raising concerns that Egypt may be mishandling debris collected from the downed EgyptAir plane, potentially compromising evidence that could help determine why the Airbus A320 crashed.

Forensic and chemical analysis of aircraft wreckage can yield vital information for investigators to figure how and why a plane went down.

Such findings are particularly crucial when investigators lack access to a plane’s flight recorders, known as black boxes, which typically provide the most comprehensive information about what occurred on board a flight.

EgyptAir Flight 804 plunged into the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday last week during a flight from Paris to Cairo with 66 people on board.

The Egyptian navy has been scooping plane debris and body parts out of the water while the search continues for the main wreckage.

People in close contact with the investigation are concerned that potentially vital evidence is being compromised, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Photographs released by Egypt’s military of the salvage operation show personnel handling items without wearing protective clothing and placing them on unprotected surfaces.

This could threaten the investigation, the people said, because forensic investigators will analyze debris for chemical residue of explosives, fire or smoke.

Military personnel who have been in contact with weapons or ammunition could have been exposed to similar chemical residue and inadvertently transfer it to any debris they handle.

Lubricants and other nonmilitary items on ships can contain the same chemicals used to produce explosives and so confound the chemical analysis of the debris.

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RA/FL

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