EgyptAir wreckage found, Egyptian government says

Updated 6:47 PM EDT, Thu June 16, 2016
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Story highlights

NEW: U.S. agency will be sending team to Cairo to aid investigation

Airbus A320 crashed in the Mediterranean Sea on May 19

(CNN) —  

The Egyptian government says it has found wreckage of EgyptAir Flight 804, which crashed into the Mediterranean Sea last month.

Images taken of the wreckage were provided to an Egyptian investigative committee, the Civil Aviation Ministry said Wednesday.

Wreckage was found in several places. The ministry did not specify the size or the location of the parts that were found.

The Airbus A320, which had 66 people aboard, crashed in the Mediterranean on May 19 on a flight from Paris to Cairo.

Timeline: Major plane crashes

Searching for black boxes

Since then, authorities have been searching for wreckage and the plane’s flight data and cockpit voice recorders, which could reveal evidence about what caused the crash.

Conflicting reports over final moments

Two weeks ago, a French naval vessel detected underwater signals from one of EgyptAir Flight 804’s so-called black boxes, investigators said.

Specialized locator equipment on board the French vessel La Place detected signals from the seabed in the Mediterranean, the investigative committee said in a statement.

The director of the BEA, France’s air accident investigation agency, later said it had confirmed the signals were from one of the recorders on the plane.

“The signal of a beacon from a flight recorder could be detected. … The detection of this signal is a first step,” said BEA Director Remy Jouty in a statement.

Once found, they’ll be brought to Egypt

Once they’re found, the black boxes will be brought to Egypt, a civil aviation ministry official told CNN. That’s standard procedure, the official said, similar to what happened in November with the recorders from Metrojet Flight 9268, which crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

A U.S. official with knowledge of the investigation told CNN on Thursday that the National Transportation Safety Board is preparing to send a team to Cairo to help with the investigation. One investigator, a recorder specialist, has a high level of expertise in downloading and analyzing data on aircraft black boxes.

Data recorders have been fixtures on commercial flights around the world for decades.

Four scenarios on EgyptAir Flight 804

The flight data recorder gathers 25 hours of technical data from the airplane’s sensors, recording several thousand distinct pieces of information. Among the details investigators could uncover: information about the plane’s air speed, altitude, engine performance and wing positions.

Fast Facts: Commercial passenger airplane crashes

The cockpit voice recorder captures sounds on the flight deck that can include conversations between pilots, warning alarms from the aircraft and background noise. By listening to the ambient sounds in a cockpit before a crash, experts can determine if a stall took place and estimate the speed at which the plane was traveling.

But black boxes aren’t perfect. In several cases – such as the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 or the crash of American Airlines Flight 77 on September 11, 2001 – authorities had hoped to find clues in the recorders only to discover that the data inside had been damaged or the recordings had stopped suddenly.

EgyptAir Flight 804: What we know

CNN’s Rene Marsh contributed to this report.