cyprus airplane egypt.jpg
Photograph: EPA/KATIA CHRISTODOULOU

The Egypt-led committee investigating the case of the Egyptair passenger jet that had crashed in the Mediterranean Sea earlier this month said Friday it had received the plane's two black boxes from the general prosecution.

The two devices, the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder, are currently being delivered to a special unit at the Civil Aviation Ministry for the data to be downloaded and analysed, the committee said in a statement.

The process is expected to take several weeks.

If the memory units inside the two black boxes are still intact, the downloading process will begin immediately at ministry labs specializing in aviation accidents, according to the committee.

Any minor damage to the memory could be repaired locally, while any more serious damage would have to be dealt with by specialists abroad, it added.

Meanwhile, tight security measures have been put into place to safeguard the two black boxes and all the retrieved evidence to be delivered to the Civil Aviation Ministry located near Cairo Airport, security sources at the airport told dpa.

The flight data recorder was recovered from the Mediterranean Sea at dawn on Friday; the cockpit voice recorder had been retrieved a day earlier.

Both black boxes were located and retrieved by a specialized underwater search vessel operated by the Mauritius-based company Deep Sea Search and contracted by the Egyptian government.

Egyptair flight MS804 was en route from Paris to Cairo on May 19 when it crashed into the Mediterranean with 66 people on board.

Earlier in the day, sources at the committee said the Civil Aviation Ministry had already started unloading the memory unit of the cockpit voice recorder. 

The sources added that the memory unit contains the conversations between the pilot and co-pilot during the last 30 minutes before the plane crashed.

They said that results will not be announced to the media before the investigative authorities, including the prosecution, are informed.

Last month, Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy said that a terrorist act appeared a more likely cause than mechanical failure.

The crash came almost six months after a Russian passenger jet broke up midair shortly after take-off from the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt's Sinai peninsula, killing all 224 people on board.

Russian authorities said that the incident was caused by a bomb. The Islamic State extremist group, which operates in Sinai, claimed responsibility and published a photo of a soft drink can that it said had been filled with explosives and smuggled onto the flight.

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