EgyptAir black box search narrows after signal detected

The search zone for the crashed EgyptAir jet has been narrowed to two kilometres from five kilometres after a vessel picked up a signal from one of the flight recorders, an Egyptian source on the investigation committee said on Thursday.

Flight recorders could be retrieved within 8 days, according to French transport minister

A U.S. navy officer takes notes on board a patrol aircraft while searching the area where the EgyptAir Flight 804 went missing. The search has narrowed to a two-kilometre stretch of the Mediterranean Sea. (Salvatore Cavalli/Associated Press)

The search zone for the crashed EgyptAir jet has been narrowed to two kilometres from five kilometres after a vessel picked up a signal from one of the flight recorders, an Egyptian source on the investigation committee said on Thursday.

Locating the recorders, also known as black boxes, is crucial to understanding why the Airbus A320 plummeted into the Mediterranean en route from Paris to Cairo on May 19, killing all 66 people on board.

The source also denied French media reports the aircraft had sent a series of warnings during earlier flights in the 24 hours before it disappeared off radar screens and crashed.

"There is no truth to the reports in some French media that smoke signals were issued by the ACARS system three consecutive times during the plane's flights to Asmara in Eritrea and Tunis and its departure from Cairo," the source said,

As search teams zeroed in on the flight recorder, France's Transport Minister Alain Vidalies said it would be about eight days before the black box of Flight MS 804 would be recovered from the seabed.  

No distress signal

The French vessel Laplace detected signals from one of the flight recorders, which is believed to be about 3,000 metres underwater, shortly after it joined the search effort this week. 

The Airbus A320 had been cruising normally in clear skies on a nighttime flight from Paris to Cairo when it suddenly lurched left, then right, spinning all the way around and plummeting 11,582 metres into the sea, Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos has said shortly after the crash. However, the Egyptians refuted this, saying that the plane didn't swerve or lose altitude before it disappeared off radar. A distress signal was never issued, EgyptAir has said.

Since the crash, small pieces of the wreckage and human remains have been recovered while the bulk of the plane and the bodies of the passengers are believed to be deep under the sea. A Cairo forensic team has received the human remains and is carrying DNA tests to identify the victims. 

Two Canadians were among the passengersMedhat Tanious, 54, of Toronto was on his way to visit friends and family in Egypt. Dual citizen Marwa Hamdy, 42, was returning home after visiting her parents in Paris.

With files from CBC News


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