Plane crashed and killed 66 people after pilot lit a cigarette in the cockpit

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A plane crashed and tragically killed more than 60 people after the pilot lit a cigarette in the cockpit, it has been revealed.

EgyptAir flight MS804 plummeted into the sea after the cigarette caused oxygen to leak from an emergency mask.

The catastrophic crash happened moments after the plane lost control and fell into a "death spiral" over the Mediterranean.

It has been reported that a total of 66 passengers and crew died when the Airbus A320 plunged into the Mediterranean Sea south of the Greek island of Crete in May 2016.

The plane set off from Paris Charles de Gaulle in France and fatally took down one Brit, 12 French tourists, 30 Egyptians, two Iraqis, and one Canadian among others.

The British casualty was later identified as dad Richard Osman, 40, who had recently welcomed his new-born daughter into the world, just three weeks before his death.

The crash sparked a huge search mission which included the US Navy. It was confirmed that the aircraft's black box was discovered in deep water near Greece.

Authorities in Egypt claimed at the time that the takedown was a result of a terrorist attack despite no terrorist organisations taking responsibility for the supposed atrocity.

It was alleged that explosives were located on the corpses of the plane crash victims but the claim was later discredited.

Now, an official investigation has highlighted that smoke from the cigarette ignited oxygen leaking from the mask by mistake.

Egyptian pilots were known to smoke in the cockpit as the practice wasn't prohibited at the time of the crash, according to a report by aviation experts which has since been sent to the Court of Appeal in Paris.

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According to Italian publication Corriere Della Sera, a maintenance engineer changed the setting on the oxygen mask from normal to emergency which later sparked the disaster. His reasoning remains unknown.

An experienced pilot said the plane's captain Mohamed Said Ali Ali Shoukair should have detected the faulty mask ahead of takeoff.

He said: "When we go into the cabin, among the various checks we make before taking off is to check the flow of oxygen in the masks.

"If the switch is in the normal position, the flow of oxygen is on request. If it is on the emergency setting, it will release oxygen at a greater pressure to blow away the smoke that could be in the cabin if there’s a fire on board."

Julie Heslouin, who lost her brother, 41, and father, 75, in the crash said: "We have been waiting since 2016 to understand why we lost our loved ones and officially no one told us anything."

France's civil aviation accident bureau BEA announced in 2018 that it was "most likely… that a fire broke out in the cockpit while the aircraft was flying at its cruise altitude and that the fire spread rapidly, resulting in the loss of control of the aircraft".

Reports suggested that the aircraft could have crashed due to an overheating smartphone, reports The Sun.

In 2017, separate claims emerged that the pilot's iPad may have sparked a fatal fire and caused the jet to plunge into the sea.

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