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Investigators Begin Examining EgyptAir Flight MS804 Black Boxes

by Charlene Gubash and Hasani Gittens /  / Updated  / Source: Reuters
IMAGE: EgyptAir Airbus
An EgyptAir Airbus A320 in Turkey in April 2014.AP

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Investigators have just started to analyze the two black boxes recovered from EgyptAir flight MS804, in the first significant step to find out what brought down the airliner with 66 people on board, officials said Sunday.

Egypt's Aircraft Accident Investigation Committee released a statement saying that on Saturday they "started the process of analyzing the parts of the CVR (cockpit voice recorder) and FDR (flight data recorder) by the investigation committee and in the presence of the accredited representative of France and their consultants of concerned experts."

They said that memory units from the two recorders had gone through "a drying process, which occurred in the technical research center of the armed forces with drying ovens which have a high standard of technology." That process lasted eight hours, officials said.

The committee said it started the analysis of the devices with representatives from France and the United States. The boxes are crucial to explaining why the Airbus A320 crashed on May 19 en route from Paris to Cairo.

Investigators are now conducting electrical tests on the memory units, the final step before trying to extract data.

If intact, the cockpit recorder should reveal pilot conversations and any cockpit alarms, as well as other clues such as engine noise. But crash experts say it may provide only limited insight into the reason for the crash.

With the data recorder, investigators have a greater chance of discovering the cause, provided its chip is still intact.

Search teams retrieved the CVR on Thursday and they found the FDR on Friday.

While no explanation for the disaster has been ruled out, current and former aviation officials increasingly believe the root of the crash lies in the aircraft's technical systems, rather than deliberate sabotage.

Related: EgyptAir Flight MS804 Data Recorder Is Recovered

There have been a series of airplane accidents at high altitude blamed on a cocktail of technical and pilot flaws.

The crash is the third blow since October to Egypt's travel industry, which is still suffering from the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.

A Russian plane crashed in the Sinai Peninsula in October, killing all 224 people on board in an attack claimed by ISIS. In March, an EgyptAir plane was hijacked by a man wearing a fake suicide belt. No one was hurt.

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