Monday, June 27, 2016

EgyptAir Flight 804 Black Boxes Arrived in France
Wall Street Journal
June 27, 2016 12:36 p.m. ET

LONDON—Egyptian officials Monday said the “black boxes” from EgyptAir Flight 804 have arrived in France to undergo repairs as investigators struggle to figure out why the plane crashed more than a month ago.

Egyptian officials also met with their counterparts from the French air accident office, the BEA, and other outside experts, including black box maker Honeywell International Inc. to discuss how to go about the repairs, they said. Once the devices are fixed, they would be returned to Egypt to extract and analyze the stored data, Egyptian officials have said.

The cockpit voice and flight data recorders may offer clues to determine why Flight 804 crashed May 19, killing all 66 people on board. The plane was headed to Cairo from Paris when it deviated from its course while cruising at 37,000 feet, first turning left before rolling to the right and completing a full circle, investigators have said. The plane broadcast a series of error messages before all contact was lost, though they haven’t proved sufficient to determine what happened.

Egyptian officials also said they had taken wreckage recovered from the Airbus Group SE A320 to a secure facility at Cairo International Airport. Forensic experts from the country’s prosecutor will examine the items before they are handed over to the crash investigators, they said.

Egyptian officials haven't ruled out any cause for the crash. The forensic analysis could yield clues about why the plane went down, particularly if it involved an onboard explosive.

The Paris prosecutor opened a formal investigation on the downing for “involuntary manslaughter” absent evidence the accident was related to terrorism, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor said.

The BEA has extensive experience working on black boxes, including making repairs to salvage the information stored on the recording devices. A flight-data recorder will store technical parameters from the previous 25 hours of a plane’s operations. It monitors basic information such as aircraft speed and altitude, and retains information about smoke alarms, autopilot mode and control inputs made by the crew. The cockpit voice recorder retains the last two hours of crew conversation.

Egyptian officials have said analysis of the data could take weeks, though safety experts said that once the information from the black boxes is retrieved investigators could draw initial conclusions in a matter of days, if not hours.

—Inti Landauro contributed to this article.

Write to Robert Wall at

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