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The French Navy May Have Found a Black Box From the EgyptAir Plane

A French navy vessel may have found a flight data recorder, bringing the world closer to knowing what brought down the Airbus 320 and killed 66 people.

by VICE News
Jun 1 2016, 2:27pm

An Egyptair Airbus A320 at the Istanbul airport in 2011. Photo by Christoph Schmidt/EPA

A search vessel in the area of the Mediterranean where EgyptAir flight MS804 crashed in May has picked up a signal from a black box, France's Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) has confirmed.

"The [French] navy vessel Laplace, fitted with equipment from the company Alseamar, was able to detect a signal from the beacon of a flight recorder," BEA director Rémi Jouty said in a statement.

Egyptian authorities had announced earlier in the day that a French naval vessel had "detected signals from the seabed of the search area, which likely belong to one of the data boxes."

Search teams have been sweeping the area to try and retrieve the aircraft's black boxes, to figure out what caused the Airbus A320 to crash in the Mediterranean on May 19, killing the 66 people on board. The jet, en route from Paris to Cairo, was flying regularly at cruise altitude.

Black boxes — also known as flight recorders — continue to emit signals for up to a month after an air incident.

On May 20, Egyptian authorities announced that the country's military had retrieved debris and body parts from the wreckage area, 180 miles or about 300 km north of the port city of Alexandria.

The next day, the BEA said that the aircraft had transmitted a series of automatic messages — otherwise known as "Acars" (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) — before it dropped off radar. The reports suggested there was smoke on the plane. At the time, the BEA said it was "too early to interpret and understand" the causes of the crash.

According to The Independent, detectors used to signal a fire can also be set off by "condensation of the kind that occurs in the event of sudden decompression."

In the immediate aftermath of the crash, Egypt's Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy said it was more likely the plane had been brought down by a terrorist attack than by a technical failure.

The day after the crash, US officials said that review of satellite imagery did not suggest there had been an explosion on board the aircraft.

In October 2015, a Russian airliner crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula shortly after takeoff, after a bomb was planted onboard the aircraft. The Islamic State claimed that attack.