EgyptAir crash: Black box signal detected by search teams

Signals have been detected from one of the black boxes
of the EgyptAir plane that crashed last month, French
investigators have confirmed.
They were picked up by the French vessel Laplace as it was
searching the Mediterranean Sea.
There were 66 people on board when the Airbus A320
crashed on 19 May while flying from Paris to Cairo.
It vanished from Greek and Egyptian radar screens,
apparently without having sent a distress call.
What do we know so far?
Who were the victims?
“The signal from a beacon from a flight recorder has been
detected,” said Remi Jouty of France’s Bureau of
Investigations and Analysis.
A priority search area has been established, he added.
Laplace is using acoustic detection systems to listen to the
locator “pings” given off by the black boxes underwater.
A specialist vessel carrying robots able to dive to 3,000
metres (3,280 yards) is due to arrive next week to help
retrieve the devices.
Egyptian investigators first reported that the French vessels
had picked up signals from the wreckage search area, saying
they were “assumed” to be from one of the devices.
Officials from the country said last week signals from the
plane’s emergency beacon had been detected but later said
they were received on the day of the crash and were not
new.
What caused the crash remains a mystery. Finding the black
boxes is crucial to piecing together what happened in the
plane’s final moments.
A militant attack has not been ruled out but no extremist
group has claimed the downing of the plane.
Human or technical error is also a possibility. Flight data
revealed that smoke detectors went off in the toilet and the
aircraft’s electrics, minutes before the plane’s signal was
lost.
Answers still a long way off: Richard Westcott, BBC Transport
Correspondent
This could be a major breakthrough. But even if they have
found one of the two flight recorders, do not expect answers
any time soon.
Firstly, they have to hope the “pinger” sending out the signal
is still attached to the recorder itself. They can come loose.
Investigators have to send down a specialised sub with a
robotic claw to retrieve the box.
The recorders are not waterproof so the circuits in the box
have to be thoroughly dried out before they try to access the
contents.
And that is assuming the data or voice recordings survived
the crash.
If they have found a black box, it will either be the one
containing technical data or the one recording the last two
hours of sound in the cockpit.
That may give them enough to rule out certain things, like
whether someone stormed the controls, or whether a bomb
went off. But it could still leave questions.
The clues so far point to an on board fire. The black boxes
could confirm that, but they might not reveal whether it was
a malicious act or a horrible accident.
Black boxes emit signals for 30 days after a crash, giving
search teams an ever-narrowing window to locate them
before their batteries run out.
Debris from the plane has been recovered from the sea,
some 290km (180 miles) north of the Egyptian port city of
Alexandria.
But the bulk of the plane and the bodies of passengers are
thought to be deep under the sea.
Those on board MS804 included 30 Egyptians, 15 French
citizens, two Iraqis, two Canadians and citizens from Algeria,
Belgium, Britain, Chad, Portugal, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

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