One EgyptAir 'black box' recovered
November 9, 1999
NEWPORT, Rhode Island (CNN) -- Using a robot submarine, the Navy has recovered the flight data recorder --- one of the two "black boxes' from EgyptAir Flight 990 --- and hauled it onto a ship, CNN learned Tuesday.
The ship was maneuvering to retrieve the other "black box" -- the cockpit voice recorder, about 15 feet away. The data recorder was expected to be flown to the National Transportation Safety Board lab in Washington as soon as possible for analysis.
The recovery comes a day after Magnum, a nimble underwater robot, was deployed to help locate the elusive cockpit voice and flight data recorders, which authorities are counting on for answers.
After rough seas calmed Monday afternoon, Magnum was dropped into the water. Deep Drone, a robot that had failed in 13 previous hours on the ocean floor, was to join Magnum Tuesday.
The black boxes were buried amid wreckage and silt 250 feet beneath the Atlantic Ocean. Investigators have said that whenever a piece of wreckage is moved, sediment gets stirred up, reducing visibility.
The plane took off early October 31 from New York's Kennedy Airport bound for Cairo before it then plunged 33,000 feet into the Atlantic Ocean, about 50 miles south of the Massachusetts island of Nantucket. No distress call went out from the crew.
Investigators are looking into all possibilities for the crash, including mechanical failure, human error and sabotage.
The Magnum is made of titanium and has a seven-jointed arm that can be manipulated from its ship to grasp the recorders. It also has a cage that protects it from the heavy seas. Both Magnum and Deep Drone are remote-controlled underwater vessels about the size of a minivan.
The civilian salvage ship Carolyn Chouest, which carries the Magnum, can also withstand rougher conditions than the USS Grapple, which carried Deep Drone, because the Carolyn Chouest can float in a fixed spot without dropping anchor.
Investigators said it is too dangerous to send divers for the black boxes because the divers' air hoses could get severed or tangled in the wreckage.
All wreckage is being treated as evidence in case the disaster turns out to be a crime.
Also 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 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 countries.
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.
Better weather allows round-the-clock search for EgyptAir 'black boxes'
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