Search teams on Friday recovered the second flight recorder of an EgyptAir plane from the bottom of the Mediterranean that could prove vital in establishing the cause of the unexplained crash.
Flight MS804 from Paris to Cairo disappeared from radar screens in the eastern Mediterranean last month with 66 people on board, and a vast search operation has since scoured swathes of sea off Egypt’s northern coast.
Egyptian investigators said search teams managed to recover the Airbus A320’s flight data recorder – which gathers information about the speed, altitude and direction of the plane – a day after they retrieved its cockpit voice recorder.
The data recorder, which experts termed “the most important part” of the probe, was found in several pieces, according to investigators.
It was not immediately clear how much of its data would be useable, but Cairo’s civil aviation authority said on Thursday that salvage experts had managed to retrieve the voice recorder’s crucial memory unit despite extensive damage to the black box.
The voice recorder was due to be transferred from the port city of Alexandria to Cairo, where Egyptian investigators supported by French experts and representatives of manufacturer Airbus will analyse its contents.
France’s BEA air safety agency said Friday it had dispatched an expert to Cairo to assist the probe.
The cockpit voice recorder keeps track of up to two hours of conversation and other sounds in the pilots’ cabin, but also ambient noise within the aircraft.
“Depending on what we can get from this black box, it could allow us to know exactly what happened,” according to aeronautics expert Jean Serrat.
An Egyptian aviation ministry source, who declined to be named, said that if the voice data was heavily damaged, it could be sent abroad for further analysis.
Investigators have repeatedly said it is too soon to determine what caused the disaster, but a terror attack has not been ruled out.