The EgyptAir plane that mysteriously disappeared in the Mediterranean on May 19 with 66 people on board made three emergency landings in the 24 hours before the crash, the French broadcaster France 3 reports. The report has yet to be confirmed by government or airspace authorities.
The plane used for the EgyptAir Flight 804 connecting Paris to Cairo reportedly had to turn around three times and perform emergency landings on each occasion while travelling among Eritrea, Egypt, Tunisia, and Paris.
Emergency signals indicated a problem on board shortly after takeoff each time, prompting the plane to turn around, France 3 reports.
A technical verification on the ground took place after each landing, but no problems were found and the plane continually took off again and continued on its route, according to the information obtained by France 3. The French newspaper Le Parisien also reported this information.
EgyptAir's chairman on Thursday denied that those warnings took place. "For me it is not true," Safwat Musallam said, according to Reuters. He added that the plane had not experienced any maintenance issues before departure and that the plane was "normal." "We fully trust the aircraft and the pilot," he said.
This data was reported by the Aircraft Communication Addressing and Reporting System, an encrypted system that records coded messages sent between the planes and the ground during flights. This system reportedly detected several technical incidents during the plane's last six rotations. The cause of those incidents is not yet known.
The message system is the same one that recorded a slew of messages signaling smoke coming from the lavatories the avionics bay and problems with the copilot's windows, just before the plane disappeared off the radars and crashed.
This information could help experts who are still trying to figure out why the flight crashed, killing everyone on board. No explanation has been ruled out yet, but this could point toward a technical failure rather than a bomb explosion.
"These new findings are an important element for the investigators," the former head of the Investigation and Analysis Bureau for the Security of Civil Aviation, Jean-Paul Troadec, told France 3. "We cannot presume to know exactly what happened on board but it's not entirely normal to turn around several times after a technical incident without finding anything. The thesis of the technical accident is compatible with all data. But the thesis of the attack is still possible."
Troadec also insisted that the new information was still very imprecise, as we do not know what type of incident was reported and what kind of checks were performed on the ground. "It is up to the investigators to link this to the accident," Troadec said.
On Wednesday, Egypt said a French ship had picked up signals from deep under the sea that are presumed to be from the so-called black-box flight recorders from the missing plane.
This development might finally bring answers as to what happened to the plane, as all experts agree that investigators will be unable to identify a cause without the black box and voice recordings from the cockpit.