EgyptAir black box signals detected in Mediterranean

A French company has confirmed that its special undersea search ship has detected signals from one of the black box flight recorders on the EgyptAir flight that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea last month.

Alseamar said the Laplace ship started searching for the signals at midday yesterday, and “less than 24 hours were necessary ... to locate signals from a detector attached to one of the recorders of flight MS804”.

The French air accident investigation agency BEA said it is impossible to determine from the signals whether it is the flight’s data or voice recorder.

All 66 passengers and crew on board the flight were killed when the plane crashed on May 19.

The development has raised hopes the plane’s flight data and cockpit voice recorders, known as the black boxes, could be retrieved and shed light on the aircraft’s crash.

Egyptian officials said a second ship, John Lethbridge, affiliated with the Deep Ocean Search firm, will join the search team later this week.

Locator pings emitted by flight data and cockpit voice recorders, known as the black boxes, can be picked up from deep under water.

The Laplace is equipped with three detectors designed to detect and localise signals from the flight recorders, which are believed to be at a depth of about 3,000m under water.

By comparison, the wreck of the RMS Titanic is lying at a depth of about 3,800m.

Shaker Kelada, an Egypt Air official who has led other crash investigations for the carrier, said that half “the job has been done now” and that the next step would be to determine the black boxes’ exact location and extract them from the sea.

“We have to find where the boxes are exactly and decide on how to pull them out”, he said, adding that search teams might need to send in robots or submarines and “be extremely careful ... to avoid any possible damage”.

Mr Kelada said he was confident the boxes will be retrieved.

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