Egypt intensifies MS804 black box search

13 June 2016

Device’s batteries expected to expire by 16-17 June

Egyptian investigators said on 12 June that there were only five days left before batteries on the flight data and cockpit data recorders of Egypt Air MS804 expire and stop emitting signals.

Egypt’s Ministry of Civil Aviation has stepped up efforts to extract the flight recorders of MS804, which crashed on 19 May in the Mediterranean Sea, killing all 66 on board minutes before it was expected to land at Cairo International airport.

The ministry has appointed the UK’s deep-ocean search company John Lethbridge to join the search. The firm’s research and survey vessel arrived on 9 June in Alexandria, the same day BBC reported that French investigators alluded to hearing locator-beacon signals from at least one of the black boxes, prompting salvage experts to head to the site to take a closer look.

The ship is expected to survey the areas of the sea where the remains of the plane are expected to be found, according to a local media report.

A remotely-operated underwater vehicle (ROV) submarine by the Egyptian Navy has been conducting a survey of the plane’s wreckage “along 50 lines of longitude across 75 nautical miles”. John Lethbridge’s ship is understood to have begun six days of extensive search along each line to retrieve the black boxes.

The black boxes will provide crucial data on the actual cause of the crash, which could be due to a mechanical or pilot error, a hijacking or a bomb explosion.

Experts say it is still possible to recover the black boxes once they stop emitting signals, but the recovery would be more challenging.

The MS804 crash is the third such incident to hit Egypt’s aviation industry following the downing of the Metrojet flight in October last year and the hijacking of the domestic Egypt Air flight earlier this year.

Analysts have said the crashing of the Egypt Air flight will have an impact on the country’s tourism sector, which has seen visitor numbers decline by up to 50 per cent compared with 2015 amid security fears.

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