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Family of EgyptAir crash victims sue Apple, claiming an iPhone took down the plane

Published May 14th, 2018 1:48PM EDT
apple egyptair crash
Image: Aflo/REX/Shutterstock

When EgyptAir flight 804 crashed into the Mediterranean Sea back in 2016 it killed all 66 passengers and crew. It was a horrific tragedy, and with no survivors to tell the tale of what went wrong it’s been up to investigators to try to piece together the final moments that led up to the plane coming down. Despite no definitive ruling on what caused the crash, a number of families of those aboard the plane are now targeting Apple in a lawsuit.

The lawsuit, which TMZ reports was filed just recently, claims that one of the Apple devices a pilot brought along was responsible for the fire that is thought to have preceded the crash. Sensors aboard the plane detected smoke in multiple areas of the plane prior to it coming down, including in a bathroom located near the front of the plane and in the avionics bay which is situated beneath the cockpit.

One of the pilots at the helm of the plane brought his iPhone 6 and iPad Mini along for the ride, and stored them in the cockpit. It’s unclear where the fire actually started, but previous reports have stated that the plane’s warning systems spotted an issue with the window heating unit which apparently malfunctioned in some way.

Officials and aviation experts have been skeptical about the role the pilot’s gadgets may have played in the crash. The flight didn’t contact anyone via radio to tell them of an emergency, and it’s thought that if a smartphone or tablet exploded in the cockpit during the flight it would have been a significant event that would warrant a call. The black box recording smoke and fire beneath the cockpit and in the forward bathroom before the crash also can’t be explained by a smartphone fire on the plane’s dashboard.

Nevertheless, without a definitive cause on record it leaves the door open for allegations to be made, and lawyers are gearing up to wage a war with Apple due to the presence of their devices in the cockpit.

Following the initial reports of the lawsuit, Apple issued the following statement:

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.

It will be interesting to see if the lawyers believe they have a better explanation regarding the crash, or if they’re hedging their case on the possibility that the iPhone or iPad may have malfunctioned, despite the reports from multiple agencies appearing to contradict that.