EgyptAir Flight 804

June 2, 2016 by  

EgyptAir Flight 804, France’s air accident investigation agency, the BEA, says a signal has been detected from one of two black boxes from EgyptAir flight 804, which crashed in the Mediterranean last month.

“A flight recorder signal has been picked up on equipment deployed on the naval vessel Laplace,” said BEA director RĂ©mi Jouty.

Egypt’s aviation ministry earlier said that Laplace, a French vessel, had received signals understood to have come from flight recorders.

The Egyptian ministry did not say when the signals were detected. Locator pings emitted by flight data and cockpit voice recorders, known as black boxes, can be picked up from deep under water.

The EgyptAir Airbus A320 crashed with 66 people on board during a 19 May flight from Paris to Cairo.

Laplace’s equipment picked up the “signals from the seabed of the wreckage search area, assumed to be from one of the data recorders”, the Egyptian statement read. It added that a second ship, the John Lethbridge, affiliated with the Deep Ocean Search firm, would join the search team this week. The Lethbridge has a robot capable of diving up to 3,000 metres to retrieve the black boxes.

The Laplace, which is fitted with devices capable of detecting the locator signals given off by black boxes, joined the search for the flight recorders on Tuesday afternoon.

The plane was carrying passengers of different nationalities, including 40 Egyptians, including the crew, and 15 French nationals.

Egypt’s aviation minister had initially said a terrorist attack was most likely to have brought down the plane but a technical failure was also possible. France’s aviation safety agency has said the aircraft transmitted automated messages indicating smoke in the cabin and a fault in the flight control unit minutes before losing contact.

The investigators have been searching for the black boxes, which have enough battery power to emit signals for up to five weeks, about 180 miles (290km) north of the Egyptian coast. The Airbus A320 had been cruising normally in clear skies when it lurched left, then right, spinning around and plummeting 11,582 metres into the sea. A distress signal was never issued, EgyptAir has said.

Since the crash, small pieces of the wreckage and human remains have been recovered while the bulk of the plane and the bodies of the passengers are believed to be under the sea. A Cairo forensic team has received the human remains and is carrying out DNA tests to identify the victims.

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