Investigators of Egyptair flight MS804 to repair black boxes within hours

Ahmed Abbas
4 Min Read

The investigators of the crashed EgyptAir flight MS804 will be able to repair the damages of the black boxes on Monday, a senior investigation official stated.

The official added that the repairs will be carried out within hours before the committee can decide if the data extraction will be difficult or easy, according to Reuters.

The investigation committee’s inspection of the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and the flight data recorder (FDR) began Sunday with the assistance of representatives from France and the US.

The memory units had been extracted from both devices in the civil aviation labs. More tests are being carried out before the data extraction.

On 19 May, EgyptAir flight MS804, flying from Paris to Cairo, crashed into the Mediterranean Sea, claiming the lives of all 66 people on board.

The investigation committee of the crashed aeroplane received the CVR and FDR from the general prosecution after the two devices were retrieved on Friday.

The committee also said that data analysis may take up to several weeks, “if the memory units of both recorders are in good condition”.

The search vessel John Lethbridge, owned by the company Deep Ocean Search (DOS), was able to locate and retrieve the FDR a day after retrieving the CVR.

The same vessel discovered aeroplane wreckage in several locations on Wednesday. Both the search team and investigators on board the vessel will draw a map marking the wreckage distribution spots.

Graham Braithwaite, a professor of safety and accident investigation at Cranfield University, believes that the recorders on the aircraft are likely to be in a solid state. “In other words, there are no moving parts and the data is recorded on memory chips,” Braithwaite told Daily News Egypt.

“These are small parts of the crash-protected recorders, but they are clearly very precious. Investigators need to be sure that in trying to read the data, they do not damage or corrupt it, which is why they will plan everything before they do it,” he added.

The casing will likely be damaged by its impact with the sea (regardless of the cause of that impact), but this does not necessarily mean that the data inside will be damaged.

Braithwaite added that even if the electronic circuitry is damage, it is possible to recover either the memory chips or the data from the chips themselves.

The Egyptian investigation committee will receive the assistance of others, in accordance with the provisions of the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) Annex 13 – which covers aircraft accident investigations.

Since the aircraft was manufactured in France, the French national investigation agency Le Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA) will be involved and through them, the manufacturer, Airbus.

“The BEA has a lot of experience in the recovery of flight data and has worked with Egypt in the past, both on the Metrojet event and, I believe, the Flash Airlines B737 accident,” Braithwaite added.

The approach cautiously draws upon the expertise of various parties to ensure that the manufacturer, operator, and other stakeholders are kept at a safe distance to ensure independence of the investigation.

Meanwhile, EgyptAir said that it had agreed with its insurance companies to pay $25,000 as a first instalment for the victims’ families.


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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.