TRAVEL GAZETTE – Clues for the fall of EgyptAir plane last month rose as Egypt received Tuesday one of the two black boxes fixed in France.
EgyptAir Flight MS804, an Airbus A320, went missing from radar screens on May 19 en route from Paris to Cairo with 66 people on board, including 30 Egyptians and 15 French.
The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and the flight data recorder (FDR) have recently been sent to Paris for repairs and Cairo received the fixed FDR Tuesday.
The cause of the crash triggered guesses, including a terrorist bomb and a severe technical failure, yet without a strong clue for any, which will conclude when the two black boxes are fixed and the data are decoded and analyzed.
“Following the repair of the FDR at the French Investigation Bureau, the data file was transferred to Cairo for decoding and studying,” the Egyptian Aircraft Accident Investigation Committee said in a statement Tuesday, noting the process may take several days to ensure the accuracy of reading the data.
Meanwhile, the repair work on the CVR has started Tuesday in attendance of Egyptian investigators, and “the repair process will continue until it is fixed and the data can be read,” according to the investigation committee’s statement.
A few days after the plane went missing, the Egyptian military said it found some personal belongings of the victims and small pieces of the plane wreckage in the Mediterranean Sea 290 km north of the coastal city of Alexandria.
Later on, the Egyptian government hired French vessel John Lethbridge for deep underwater search. The vessel managed to locate several spots of the wreckage and eventually found the two damaged black boxes.
“John Lethbridge will continue its mission till recovering the wreckage and remains,” the Egyptian investigation committee said in its Tuesday’s statement.
The two flight recorders, the FDR and the CVR, arrived in Paris from Cairo on Monday for repairs to remove the salt deposits on their electronic boards. Earlier on Tuesday, the Egyptian committee announced that the FDR was “successfully repaired.”
“A meeting was also held today between the investigation committee and the French and American representatives to evaluate the work accomplished so far,” said the Egyptian committee.
Flying at 37,000 feet high before vanishing in the Mediterranean, the doomed flight, led by a professional pilot of over 6,000 hours of flying experience, made “sudden swerves” and dropped to 15,000 feet, according to the Greek defense minister.
He added that it first made a 90-degree turn to the east after the plane passed over the Greek island of Karpathos then made a full circular 360-degree loop before it disappeared.
Egyptian investigators confirmed the aircraft made the swerves before it fell into the the sea, which suggested a severe technical failure.
As the pilot did not send a distress message according to official reports, experts believe the plane must have encountered “a rare malfunction” that left him insufficient time to report.
Most Egyptian officials, including President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, said that all theories are possible behind the plane crash, yet some experts say a terror activity is the most likely.
In October 2015, a Russian plane crashed over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and all 224 people on board were killed, which Moscow said later was a bomb attack and Cairo did not refute.
A Sinai-based terrorist group loyal to the regional Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the Russian plane’s crash.