Retrieved voice recorder may solve jet riddle

THE COCKPIT voice recorder from flight EgyptAir 990 was sent to Washington for examination last night as speculation mounted that the plane could have been deliberately crashed in a kamikaze-like act by one of the crew.

The recorder, the second "black box", was retrieved from the ocean bed by a Navy robot late on Saturday night, two weeks after the plane plunged into the Atlantic off Massachusetts with the loss of all 217 people on board.

Jim Hall, head of the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) which is heading the inquiry into the disaster, said the voice recorder was slightly bent, and had become detached from its identifying `pinger'. But he said that as much as 30 minutes of cockpit conversation could be on the tape. "I am very relieved," Mr Hall said. "We are hopeful that we will have good voice information off this recorder."

The crew of the stricken plane, which was 40 minutes into a flight from New York to Cairo, had made no distress call and given no indication that anything was wrong.

Preliminary analysis of the first black box, the flight data recorder, showed that the plane's engines had been shut off before the final descent, something that experienced pilots said could be done only manually. One veteran pilot said the actions taken on the Boeing 767, such as shutting off the engines, seemed to be the exact opposite of what would be done by someone trying to save the plane. "Someone on that airplane was trying to make that airplane crash and they succeeded," the former United Airlines pilot said.

The recorded flight data appeared to rule out any parallel with the 1991 Air Lauda crash of a similar plane, which was attributed to a faulty thrust reverser on one of the two engines. This left sabotage or catastrophic human error as the favoured hypotheses.

Concerned by the suggestion that its pilots could be flying while mentally unbalanced, EgyptAir called a press conference in Cairo on Saturday to reassure passengers about the medical credentials of its crews.

Officials from the airline have been asked to help NTSB investigators interpret the information from the voice cockpit recorder, some of which is expected to be in Arabic.

Hassan Misharfa, EgyptAir head of operations, said yesterday that the pilots were among the company's best. "They have long experience and, in addition to that, they have passed all professional, safety and psychological tests successfully," he said.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before