EgyptAir Black-Box Pings Detected by French Search Vessel

  • Second ship to join effort to retrieve data recorders in days
  • Black boxes key to helping establish why the plane crashed

A French Navy vessel picked up signals that may be coming from one of the black boxes on the doomed EgyptAir plane, a key step in finding out what caused the jet to crash last month with 66 people on board.

France’s “La Place” received signals from the seabed in the search area, Egypt’s Ministry of Civil Aviation said in an e-mailed statement. Once located, a ship from Deep Ocean Search Ltd. will join the effort to retrieve the data recorders “within a week.”

Flight MS804 crashed under clear skies over the eastern Mediterranean Sea en route from Paris to Cairo. The Airbus A320 sent seven automated error messages minutes before plunging, without any distress signal from the crew. Uncertainty over what caused the May 19 crash is delaying any response by policy makers, whether it be a hunt for a terrorist who planted a bomb, or revising safety procedures to prevent similar types of accidents in the future.

The signals are a positive sign as flight data and voice recorders are detectable only within a few miles. After retrieving the black boxes, the next stage would be to review the data, a process that would be led by the Egyptian authorities and could involve experts from France and other countries. The clock is ticking on the search as the devices are likely to run out of power that activates the pings in about three weeks.

Egypt is leading the search, which includes officials from France’s air accidents bureau because the flight left from Paris and because Airbus is based in the country. Egyptian investigators have said they’ve retrieved parts presumed to be from the Airbus A320’s wreckage, as well as human remains.

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