Search Teams Close In On Egyptair Flight 804
The French naval vessel Laplace has reportedly picked up pings from the lost Egyptair Flight 804’s black box. The find has been confirmed by France's aviation security agency, the Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses (BEA). The aircraft's black boxes are designed to emit pings for a period of 30 days, limiting the amount of time available for locating them (without resorting to a more intensive sonar search). A second vessel, the Deep Ocean Search-operated John Lethbridge, expects to join the effort in the Mediterranean later in the week; the boxes only have power to transmit a short distance, and their detection is an indication that search assets are closing in on the wreck site.
The Airbus A320 went down over the Mediterranean on May 19 with 66 aboard. Limited information on the aircraft’s final minutes was received from automated transmitters, and radar and transponder data has given some insight into her last maneuvers, but the black box's contents will allow investigators access to detailed flight data and voice recordings from the last 25 hours of the plane's operation. While many observers and analysts have suggested causes for the loss of the aircraft, including terrorism and the use of an explosive device, government officials have cautioned against speculation until an investigation has been completed.
Separately, the Airbus A320 in service as EgyptAir Flight 804 had sensors signal equipment anomolies three times in the 24 hours before its final flight, reports France 3 TV. The aircraft's automatically transmitted ACARS messages indicated unspecified technical issues, but the aircraft was cleared to take off on its final journey, France 3 said; the station did not have details, and its report could not immediately be confirmed. As of May 1, French media differ on the extent of and response to the sensor faults preceding the final flight.
Egyptian investigative officials have previously stated that the jet showed no signs of technical problems before departing on its final flight. "The engineer and the pilot both signed the Aircraft Technical Log which stated that the check found that all the plane's machines were safe," said EgyptAir chairman Safwat Musallam last week.