Investigators Still Hopeful of Finding Egyptair Flight Recorders

 - June 10, 2016, 10:05 AM
Accident investigation teams searching for the wreckage of an Egyptair A320 that crashed in to the Mediterranean Sea in May are using an underwater robot to search to depths of 10,000 feet. [Photo: BEA]

Egyptian and French investigators are still looking for the flight recorders of the Egyptair MS804 flight that crashed in the Mediterranean Sea on May 19, according to Rémi Jouty, the director of French accident investigation agency BEA. He told a press briefing in Paris on June 9 that the signal of one of MS804's flight data recorders has been heard and its location is known with a precision of 0.5 to 1 nm. The required life of the recorder signal is 30 days and Jouty expressed hope this could extend to 35 to 45 days, depending on the batteries.

The requirement for signal duration will be 90 days from 2018. Jouty expressed disappointment at the slow pace of adoption for this increased requirement by “influential countries,” as in his view the technical solution is cheap and easy. Air France has already implemented it.

A second ship was to arrive in the Egyptair crash area on June 10. Chartered by Egypt, Deep Ocean Search's John Lethbridge vessel has an underwater robot for more precise searches, some as far as 10,000 feet below the surface. The remotely operated vehicle has a camera and a prehensile arm.

The BEA will participate in processing the data retrieved from the recorders. It is the “main advisor,” in the investigation, Jouty clarified, but Egyptian authorities are leading the effort.

Jouty also told reporters about an incident that took place in 2013 at Lyon Saint Exupéry Airport. He expressed regret that it had not attracted more attention as, in his view, it had major air transport safety implications.

An Airbus A321, operated by the now defunct Greece-based Hermes Airlines, overran Runway 36R in Lyon. “This could have been much more serious as speed was still 75 knots when the Airbus left the runway; it stopped near a sandpit, where it could have fallen,” Jouty said.

The BEA found that the incident was due to multiple causes, including poor crew coordination, ATC instructions, non-compliance with a standard operating procedure, as well as an autothrottle malfunction and dual input during landing. “What was unique was the operator's choice to comply with the regulation by hiring pilots with as little experience as possible,” Jouty added.