Voice Recorder Found With Debris And Human Remains From EgyptAir Flight MS804 In Mediterranean

The voice recorder in the cockpit black box of the crashed EgyptAir flight has been found at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. A specialist vessel owned by Mauritius-based Deep Ocean Search reportedly located the device and is now transporting it to the coastal city of Alexandria for examination by the public and investigators.

CBC attributed the information of the voice recorder having been found to a statement released by Egypt’s Ministry of Civil Aviation on Thursday, June 16, 2016, regarding the recovery of one black box, partially damaged, but with its memory storage intact from waters 13,000 feet deep.

According to The Guardian, Thursday’s announcement came a day after Mauritius ship The John Lethbridge, contracted by the Egyptian government to join the search for the plane debris and flight recorders, reported spotting and obtaining images from the wreckage of the EgyptAir plane. The voice recorder found among the plane debris has been described by the Egyptian investigation committee as containing “the memory unit, which is considered the most important part of the recording device.”

EgyptAir passengers' relatives
Relatives of EgyptAir passengers lost in the crash, mourn [Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images]
All 66 passengers and crew on flight MS804 went missing when it crashed on May 19, 2016, after dropping from radar en route from Paris to Cairo. No Americans were on board the flight, which has yielded up the voice recorder, but Canadians Marwa Hamdy, 42, of Saskatoon, and Medhat Tanious, 54, of Toronto, were among the lost passengers. Other nationals consisted of 30 Egyptians, 15 French citizens, two Iraqis and people from Belgium, Britain, Algeria, Chad, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Portugal. Some human remains have been reported found.

The search teams had to salvage the cockpit voice recorder over several stages from where they had found it among parts of EgyptAir flight MS804. The Egyptian investigation committee blamed this painstaking recovery process on the fact that the device was damaged.

According to France’s aviation safety agency, the aircraft to which the voice recorder belonged, made message transmissions indicating smoke found inside the cabin and a fault in a flight control unit prior to the crash. From the Egyptian committee study of radar images, the plane appeared to swerve violently and change direction before turning 360 degrees and crashing.

Egypt’s aviation minister, Sherif Fathi, told reporters that he did not want to draw any conclusions prematurely, especially regarding the terrorist angle. However, he did say this.

“The possibility of having a different action or a terror attack, is higher than the possibility of having a technical failure.”


According to BBC, the flight crew did not appear to have sent a distress call, but a terror attack has not been ruled out, even if no extremist group has claimed responsibility for the crash. Analysts hope the retrieval of the voice recorder would reveal if human or technical error was involved.

Minutes before the radar signal was lost, electronic messages automatically sent by the plane revealed smoke detectors going off in the toilet and elsewhere. It is hoped that the voice recorder found will explain why the aircraft turned 90 degrees left and then 360 degrees to the right, dropping from 37,000 feet to 15,000 feet and finally to 10,000 feet before it vanished from radar.

The plane’s manufacturer, Airbus, regards the voice recorder within each of the two black boxes that needed to be found, as crucial to understanding what really happened. Aviation expert Peter Goelz, formerly with the United States National Transportation Safety Board, explained the concept further:

“There are a number of stationary microphones in the cockpit plus the pilots wear microphones. The value of the recording of the device is that it not just the records voices and conversations within cockpit but also all of the sounds in the cockpit. It’s a delicate process if it’s just coming off an intact hard drive. If the hard drive itself has been damaged, it could take longer — possibly a number of weeks.”

ISIS supporters
Usual suspect ISIS claimed responsibility for previous crash [Photo by AP Pool]
Egypt’s aviation safety record has been widely regarded as dismal following the tragic circumstances around Metrojet 7K9268, which crashed in the Sinai peninsula in October 2015, killing all 224 people on board. The plane’s cockpit voice recorder data was found to be consistent with an explosion, and an unnamed Egyptian investigation team member said he was “90 percent sure” the airliner was brought down by a bomb.

ISIS’ branch in Sinai later claimed responsibility for the attack, displaying a picture of the drinks can allegedly used to smuggle a bomb onto the craft. The voice recorder found seemed to support the claim.

[Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images]

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