Investigators require at least 12 days to find EgyptAir MS804 black box

Ahmed Abbas
4 Min Read

Investigators will need at least 12 days to find the crashed EgyptAir aeroplane’s black box as they are waiting for a French ship to arrive at the search site, reported AFP.

EgyptAir flight MS804 crashed into the Mediterranean Sea during the early hours of Thursday 19 May, claiming the lives of all 66 people onboard.

A French naval vessel is participating in the hunt for the black box. Laplace departed from the French port of Corsica last week and headed to the crash site equipped with devices from ALSEAMAR company, which specialises in identifying wrecks.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Thursday with the company Deep Ocean Search (DOS) to perform the search and retrieval process of the two data recorders of the aeroplane.

DOS is an international company that provides assistance in ultra-deep water activities and uses advanced technology, which will assist in locating the black box.

The investigation committee received a satellite report showing that an electronic message was sent from the aeroplane’s Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT), which sends an automated message in case of a crash or if the aeroplane becomes submerged in water.

The committee presented the coordinates of the message to the search teams so that they can search the area from where the message was sent.

The ELT of the Airbus A320 is manufactured by Honeywell International and designed to aid in the detection and location of aircraft in distress

Professor Robert Jones, department chairperson of Aviation and Transportation Studies at Lewis University, told Daily News Egypt that ELTs emit a digital signal or ping that can be picked up by aircraft accident investigation authorities by satellite or other receivers. “These signals help locate the transmitter which is contained within the aircraft. This data primarily serves to locate the aircraft itself,” Jones added.

ELT can help investigators minimise the search area to a smaller, more manageable area, according to Jones.

Experts have only 30 days to find the black box before its battery dies, thus preventing it from emitting signals.


“This is not to be confused with the FDR, or Flight Data Recorder, which contains discrete messages from aeroplane systems that indicate the exact operation of primary systems onboard the aircraft prior to a mishap,” Jones said.

Another important part of the black box is the CVR, or Cockpit Voice Recorder, that listens to internal crew communications. This device also records communiqués with control towers, en route controllers, and the aircraft operator.

These devices are designed to give investigators empirical data so they can make insightful conclusions as to the cause of aircraft accidents and are critical to investigators who want to piece together the final critical moments before the aircraft began to experience anomalies.

The investigation committee has started studying the information received from the Greek air traffic control about the accident. It is expected that the committee will receive more information about the radar records that had followed the path of the aeroplane before the accident, according to an official statement released by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

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Ahmed Abbas is a journalist at DNE’s politics section. He previously worked as Egypt based reporter for, and interned as a broadcast journalist at Deutsche Welle TV in Berlin. Abbas is a fellow of Salzburg Academy of Media and Global Change. He holds a Master’s Degree of Journalism and New Media from Jordan Media Institute. He was awarded by the ICFJ for best public service reporting in 2013, and by the German foreign office for best feature in 2014.
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