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Ships hope to resume search at EgyptAir crash site

Good weather Friday may allow the USS Grapple to resume efforts to retrieve the second black box  

November 12, 1999
Web posted at: 10:32 a.m. EST (1532 GMT)

NEWPORT, Rhode Island (CNN) -- With better weather at the crash site of EgyptAir Flight 990, ships with undersea robots hoped to resume the hunt Friday for the plane's cockpit voice recorder.

The Navy's USS Grapple, equipped with the mini-sub Deep Drone, headed to the site off the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, on Friday morning, as did other ships assisting in the search effort. They were expected to arrive later in the day.

Rough seas Thursday forced those vessels to return to the investigation center in Rhode Island, where they refueled while the civilian ship Carolyn Chouest remained at the crash site. But that ship was forced by bad weather Thursday to withdraw its own submersible robot, the Magnum.

The Carolyn Chouest resumed its underwater search operations early Friday morning, but had to discontinue using Magnum before dawn, due to technical problems.

VideoWatch the NTSB news conference on preliminary information from EgyptAir Flight 990's data recorder
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EgyptAir Flight 990 took off early on October 31 from New York's Kennedy International Airport. The Boeing 767 climbed to 33,000 feet before plunging into the sea south of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, about 40 minutes after takeoff. All 217 people aboard were killed.

The National Transportation Safety Board is in charge of the investigation, using a command center in Newport, Rhode Island. Recovered wreckage is being brought to Quonset Point, a former Navy base across Narragansett Bay from Newport.
Plane crashes


Cockpit voice recorder key to probe

Crash investigators say recovering the cockpit voice recorder -- one of two so-called "black boxes" on the Boeing 767 -- may help reveal what happened during the final moments of the doomed flight. The tape could include crew member conversations and cockpit noises.

The device is now the focus of the investigation after an early analysis of data on the other black box -- the flight data recorder, retrieved from the ocean floor on Tuesday -- only heightened the mystery of what happened to the Boeing 767.

The New York-to-Cairo flight crashed off Nantucket on October 31, killing all 217 people aboard. The cause has not been determined.

A preliminary analysis of the flight data recorder announced Wednesday by the National Transportation Safety Board eliminated at least one theory about what may have caused the disaster. NTSB Chairman James Hall said there was no evidence the plane's thrust reversers, which are used while landing, deployed accidentally.

Hall said the plane had been cruising normally at 33,000 feet when the autopilot disconnected. That is unusual, because the plane was just beginning its hours-long cruise across the Atlantic. Hall refused to say whether the autopilot disconnected manually or automatically.

About eight seconds later, the flight "begins what appears to be a controlled descent" from 33,000 feet to about 19,000 feet, Hall said.

The recorder stopped shortly afterward, and the final five to 10 seconds of information on its tape were still being extracted.

Correspondent Martin Savidge contributed to this report.

Weather suspends search for second Flight 990 'black box'
November 11, 1999
'Black box' data: No thrust reverser deployment, no supersonic speed
November 10, 1999
Recovered EgyptAir recorder contains more data than expected
November 9, 1999
Better weather allows round-the-clock search for EgyptAir 'black boxes'
November 8, 1999
Relatives, dignitaries mourn victims of EgyptAir crash
November 7, 1999
Attempt to retrieve EgyptAir 'black boxes' resumes
November 6, 1999

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