EgyptAir Crash Probe Held Up by Electrical Fault in Black Boxes

  • Salt being cleaned from 200 circuit boards to identify glitch
  • Flight recorders should help reveal what caused fatal downing

An investigation into why an EgyptAir plane crashed into the Mediterranean last month is being held up by a damaged computer circuit that’s thwarting efforts to access vital data from the Airbus Group SE A320’s black-box flight recorders.

A team of international experts is having to clean salt accumulations from more than 200 electronic circuits to determine which one is foiling attempts to read the recorders’ memory units, Egypt’s Civil Aviation Ministry said Wednesday in an e-mailed statement.

Investigators had already said the black boxes from EgyptAir Flight 804, retrieved last week, were partially damaged. The units also had to be dried for several days after lying submerged in more than 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) of water since the crash on May 19, which killed all 66 people on board.

The search vessel John Lethbridge, which raised the flight-data and cockpit-voice recorders from the seabed, is meanwhile mapping out the distribution of debris from the A320 as a prelude to retrieving the wreckage as part of the probe, the ministry said.

Representatives from France’s BEA and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board are on hand as the Egypt-led team assesses the recorders and their electronics, the ministry said.

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