Second robot to work on recovery of EgyptAir 'black boxes'
November 8, 1999
NEWPORT, Rhode Island (CNN) -- EgyptAir crash investigators plan to use a second high-tech robot Monday in the attempt to recover the elusive "black boxes" from Flight 990.
Eight days after the Boeing 767 plunged into the Atlantic off Massachusetts, claiming 217 lives, the cockpit voice and flight data recorders remain on the ocean floor.
In previous retrieval attempts, the Navy lowered the undersea robot Deep Drone from the USS Grapple without snaring the black boxes, located about 250 feet under water.
Each time, when claws of the Deep Drone moved a piece of wreckage to try and get closer to the black boxes' distinct pinging sounds, clouds of silt blurred the robot's video cameras -- frustrating technicians controlling it from the Grapple's deck.
The Grapple returned to shore Sunday to refuel and restock amid seas too rough to get work done.
When the recovery effort resumes, the Navy plans to employ a second robot, the Magnum ROV.
The robot is the latest, most sophisticated, machine of its kind, able to maneuver and operate even in rough seas, said National Transportation Safety Board Chairman James Hall.
It was being carried aboard the civilian ship Carolyn Chouest.
Too dangerous for divers
Hall seemed optimistic Friday when Deep Drone was first deployed into the ocean because it had detected the loud pinging sounds from the black boxes -- an indication that the devices were nearby.
"Assuming that the pingers are still intact with the box ... then we have an exact location," the NTSB chairman told CNN Monday. But, he added, the area where the wreckage is located is "far too dangerous" for divers to attempt the retrieval.
"The debris fields are as dangerous as any we have dealt with in NTSB experience, so we are going to try to accomplish this task with these remote vehicles," Hall said.
Relatives mourn, many return home
There is still no indication why Flight 990 plummeted from 33,000 feet, crashing into the water less than an hour after takeoff October 31 from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.
On Tuesday, a Coast Guard helicopter is scheduled to drop flowers at the crash site. The flowers are from relatives of the crash victims who gathered in Rhode Island for an emotional multi-faith memorial service held Sunday at a park overlooking the ocean.
After the ceremony, many family members left immediately for airports to return to their homes in Egypt, the United States and other points.
On Saturday, relatives were granted their wish to see the plane's wreckage at Quonset Point, a former Navy base across Narragansett Bay from the search command center in Newport, Rhode Island.
Relatives, dignitaries mourn victims of EgyptAir crash
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