U.S. Joins EgyptAir Crash Investigation as Clock Ticks on Search

  • Pings from doomed plane’s black boxes could stop on June 24
  • U.S. safety agency asked to take part in the investigation

U.S. air-safety experts joined an investigation into the cause of the crash of an EgyptAir plane last month that killed all 66 people on board as the clock ticks on locating the all-important black boxes.

The Airbus A320’s data recorders are expected to continue emitting signals until June 24, Egypt’s Ministry of Civil Aviation said in a statement late Monday. Without the pings, which were initially detected two weeks ago, locating the devices becomes more difficult.

The U.S. National Transport Safety Board asked to join the Egypt-led investigation because the plane’s engines were built by a consortium led by American company Pratt & Whitney, the Egyptian ministry said. The agency will send an expert to assist with the probe, which also includes French air-accident specialists since Airbus Group SE is based in the country.

Radar images show the plane bound for Cairo from Paris deviated from its course, veered sharply left and then rolled to the right in a complete circle before plunging into the sea, Egyptian investigators said, confirming earlier statements from Greek officials.

Flight MS804 also broadcast a series of error messages minutes before contact was lost, while the crew didn’t send a distress signal. The cause of the May 19 crash is likely to remain a mystery until the black boxes are found and decoded.

The French ship La Place has received signals from the seabed in the search area, and the John Lethbridge, a vessel from Deep Ocean Search Ltd., has joined the hunt to scan the ocean floor for the voice recorders.

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