Black boxes from EgyptAir plane “extensively damaged,” need repair

– The voice and data recorders from the EgyptAir plane that crashed into the Mediterranean nearly a month ago are “extensively damaged” and will need repairs before they can be analyzed, an Egyptian official said Friday, June 17, dampening hopes for quick answers as to what caused the disaster, the Associated Press reports.

The official didn’t elaborate on how long the repairs would take but said if this cannot be done in Egypt, the so-called “black boxes” would be sent abroad. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.

With the wreckage of the Airbus A320 some 3,000 meters under water, the cockpit voice and flight data recorders are vital for piecing together the last moments of the flight, which plunged into the sea between the Greek island of Crete and the Egyptian port city of Alexandria on May 19, killing all 66 on board.

Earlier in the day, Egypt’s investigation commission said the flight data recorder had been pulled out of the sea, a day after the cockpit voice recorder was also recovered. Both were brought to Cairo for analysis, AP says.

The memory units inside the recorders can provide key data, including the last conversations inside the cockpit, information about auto-pilot mode or even smoke alarms. They might also give answers to why the pilot made no distress call before the crash.

Experts say the data, combined with previously obtained satellite and radar images, debris analysis, the plane history and the pilots’ records, can shed light on the most possible scenarios. No militant group has claimed bringing down the aircraft.

“We will be having a wealth of information that helps the investigators eliminate some possibilities while giving priority to others,” said Hani Galal, an Egyptian aviation expert. He is not involved in this crash investigation but has taken part in other similar probes, AP says.

Both France and the United States are sending investigators to Cairo to help with the probe.