Russian plane black box recording to be sent abroad for analysis

Published November 13th, 2015 - 03:52 GMT
Debris from the crashed Russian A321 passenger jet on October 31, 2015. (AFP/File)
Debris from the crashed Russian A321 passenger jet on October 31, 2015. (AFP/File)

Part of the Cockpit Voice Recorder content of the ill-fated Russian plane will be moved abroad for an analysis of the sound heard in the last second of the recording before the crash, Aviation Minister Hossam Kamal told Al Ahram daily on Friday.

A Russian operated Airbus A321 crashed in Egypt’s North Sinai on Oct. 31 killing all 224 passengers and crew on board, the majority of whom where Russians.

Kamal told state-owned Al Ahram that “the last seven seconds of the black box recordings will be transferred to a country that manufactures aircrafts ... to analyse the sound and it’s cause."

He did not disclose the specific country where the recording will be sent.

He said that the sophisticated equipment necessary to analyse the sound was not available in Egypt.

There are two types of black boxes, a Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and Flight Data Recorder (FDR), both designed to sustain damage during an accident and both typically, vital for concluding the cause of a crash.

Last Saturday, head of the Egypt-led international committee tasked with analysing the content of the black boxes, said that “a noise’’ was heard in the last second of the CVR and it had to be analysed with “spectral analysis".

According to statements made earlier this month by an unnamed source who spoke to Russian news agency Interfax, "uncharacteristic sounds" were heard in the cockpit at the time of the plane's disappearance.

The content of the FDR were extracted and validated, said Egypt's aviation ministry days after the crash.

When asked about the results of investigations, Kamal said that the committee is still in the information gathering phase, adding that “all possibilities are on the table as to the cause of the crash, whether it’s a technical failure, an act of sabotage or an object placed inside the plane among the luggage that was put there with good intentions such as an oxygen cylinder."

Although the investigation is still underway theories on the downing of the plane abound. The US and the UK have officially entertained the possibility that the Russian flight was brought down by a bomb planted on board, sending ripples across the world and raising questions on Egyptian airport security.

The investigation team includes international representatives as Egypt has extended invitations to investigators from Russia, Ireland, France, Germany and advisors from the engine's manufacturer, in accordance with national and international law.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said last Tuesday that Egypt "accepted the application" of American investigators "associated with manufacturers" of the engine of the jet.

Shukri added in statements made to CNN that "international investigation regulations allow Americans to tap advisers for their team," in response to a question on whether the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) would be part of the US team.

Egypt said it had notified all countries with the right to participate including the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an American governmental investigative agency, since the engine of the plane was produced by an American company, Pratt & Whitney, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid.

He added that international agreements allow for participation in the investigation of the country that manufactured the plane and its engines, as well as its place of registration and the country of nationality of the victims.

However, officials at the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the FBI denied in statements given to Reuters Thursday that Egypt had invited them to join the investigation, noting that the FBI had offered "forensic assistance" to both Egypt and Russia but neither country has accepted so far.

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