UPDATE SATURDAY JUNE 18 2016
Graphic Courtesy BBC
Julian Bray writes: Local Egyptian sources have positively (albeit unofficially) confirmed that both the Flight Data Recorder and the Cockpit Voice Recorder (known as 'black boxes') have now been recovered from a depth of 10,000ft by a remote submersible submarine, equipped with specialist cutting and recovery gear, linked back to its dedicated search vessel.
The recovery operation had to be completed in several stages from the crashed EgyptAir Airbus A320 flight to Cairo from Paris, when it vanished from radar screens just inside the 'Egyptian Area of Responsibility' also known as Egyptian Air Space.
The plane crashed into the Mediterranean Sea on May 19 between Crete and the Egyptian coast and accounts suggest the nose portion of the fuselage 'drilled deep' into the sea bed, which at that location is constantly silted by the River Nile, so relatively soft and level.
On Friday, the Egyptian Military committee co-ordinating the search said in a statement that the recovery vessel John Lethbridge, contracted by the Egyptian government, extracted the initial data recorder from the sea 'in stages' and the memory disk stack portion of the FDR.
It was still unclear how damaged the 'black boxes' are, the combination of high water pressure, saline and the crash impact, will hamper any swift de-coding resolution, as the Egyptians are adamant they wish to keep the black boxes at their own specialist laboratory complex in Alexandria, and not send them to the French BEA Centre or to Farnborough in the UK.
The recovered units right up to the point of laboratory examination will have been kept submerged in sea water tanks, then progressively dried out, to preserve data stability.
However an official (not authorised to comment) claimed the investigators had already started analysing the cockpit voice recorder.
Sources: AP, ABC, CNS, BBC, and local engineering
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