[Update 01/26/2017: We apologize for any confusion this article has created. A condensed and inadvertently misleading title was placed in our newsletter causing readers to conclude that an iPhone 6s and iPad mini 4 had brought down the EgyptAir flight. This is not the case. We have reported that the investigators’ aforementioned ‘belief’ is improbable. Please read the entire story for more details.]
Shortly after it was learned that EgyptAir flight MS804 had mysteriously crashed into the Mediterranean Sea on May 19th of last year, the first, and perhaps most obvious, consensus among investigators, was that one of the world’s leading terrorist networks — presumably, ISIS — was responsible for initiating an explosive device of some sort while aboard the jetliner, which, at the time of its downing, was en route to Cairo, Egypt from the Charles de Gaulle International airport in Paris, France.
Investigators had arrived at the conclusion that terrorists were more than likely to blame for the crash that killed all 66 people on board — primarily, but not entirely, because several of the bodies that were pulled from the wreckage were evidently laced with trace amounts of an explosive compound. However, while the current narrative of the world might lend credence to the original theory of terrorist involvement, a group of French investigators have reportedly come to an alternate conclusion of what happened on that fateful, Thursday afternoon — one involving Apple’s iPhone 6s, and perhaps an iPad mini 4, believe it or not.
According to a report published last week in the French newspaper, La Parisien, which cites a number of unnamed sources familiar with the matter, investigators claim to have uncovered data from one of the plane’s ‘black box’ recorders, which inconspicuously revealed that a fire had broken out near, or even inside, the plane’s cockpit, ultimately leading to its demise. However, citing a video showing surveillance footage from the plane’s origin airport, the investigators are now questioning whether an iPhone 6s, or an iPad mini 4 — both of which were owned by the co-pilot, and were apparently placed on top of the cockpit’s instrument panel before takeoff — may have instead caught fire and led to the crash. The underlying theory, as improbable as it may sound, is that an extended period of exposure to harsh sunlight may have caused either one, or both, of the devices to overheat, leading to a fire that sparked as the result of a process known as “thermal runaway.”
While the likelihood of all that happening in the way that it’s suggested is slim-to-none — as is the proof that such a series of unfortunate events even unfolded in the first place, other air safety experts, including David Learmount, have cast doubt on the theory in its entirety. Learmount, in particular, believes that the fire (which most accept to have originated in one of the front-cabin bathrooms) was way too quick and fierce — and, as such, an iPhone or iPad having exploded in the cockpit wouldn’t even have been able to engulf it in flames so quickly. He also added the following in an exclusive interview with Fortune:
“Pilots don’t leave objects on the dashboard because they know they will end up in their lap when they take off or on the floor and they’ll get airborne in turbulence and could jam the controls.”
Apple, for its part, has issued a brief statement on the matter, as well:
“We haven’t been contacted by GTA or any authority investigating this tragic event. We have not seen the report but we understand there is no evidence to link this event to Apple products. If investigators have questions for us, we would of course assist in any way we can. We rigorously test our products to ensure they meet or exceed international safety standards.”