The French air accident investigation agency (BEA) said Saturday smoke was detected before EgyptAir flight MS804 went off radar, but that no conclusions can be drawn, The Associated Press reported.
BEA (Bureau d'enquêtes et d'analyses pour la sécurité de l'aviation civile) spokesperon Sebastien Barthe told AP the plane's automatic detection system sent messages of detecting smoke in multiple places on the plane.
The messages "generally mean the start of a fire," said Barthe.
However: "We are drawing no conclusions from this. Everything else is pure conjecture," added Barthe.
Egyptian authorities said Friday they were "looking into the report [that there was smoke on the flight]," an Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation spokesman told AFP. "
At this point I can't deny or confirm it," the Egyptian official said.
Three BEA officials and a technical expert from France-based civil aircraft manufacturer Airbus arrived in Cairo Friday to participate in the investigations.
The Wall Street Journal had cited "people familiar with the matter" as saying the messages indicated smoke in the toilet and in the equipment compartment beneath the cockpit, where there is "a critical part of the airliner's flight-control computer," and that the automated messages were sent around 2:26 am on Thursday.
The Egyptian army, which is leading search and recovery efforts in the Mediterranean, has recovered debris and other remains but has not yet located the flight's Black Box.