Paris: The 2016 crash of a Paris-Cairo EgyptAir flight that killed all 66 people on board was likely caused by a cockpit fire, French investigators said, contradicting an earlier suggestion by Egyptian authorities that a bomb may have been the cause.
It says the French report is "baseless", adding that "traces of explosives were found on the remains of passengers and parts of the plane".
"A fire broke out in the cockpit while the plane was at cruising at high altitude and the fire spread rapidly, causing the aircraft to lose control", said France's civil aviation accident bureau (BEA) on Friday, according to France Press Agency.
In its statement, the French agency cited its "difference of opinion" with the Egyptian conclusions based on evidence collected so far, including the BEA's advanced fix work on flight recorders found in the Mediterranean depths. It is unusual for investigators to comment publicly on a case being led by their counterparts in another country.
The black box, retrieved from the crash site by a specialist diving vessel, also confirmed that smoke alarms where triggered onboard, while recovered wreckage had indications of soot, the Egyptian Aviation Ministry stated in a statement in December 2016.
Officials recovered flight recorders that were analyzed two months after the crash because advanced fix work was needed first, the new report from investigators with France's Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety, known as BEA said.
Investigations into the crash were still ongoing, it said.
It noted technical elements of investigation already conducted were now "protected" by the Egyptian judicial investigation.
French investigators and the families of the French victims have deplored a lack of cooperation from the Egyptian authorities.