An EgyptAir plane takes off from Vienna International Airport, Austria on Aug. 21, 2015.
Photo by Thomas Ranner/AP

EgyptAir search: Egypt says French ship detected potential black-box signals


CAIRO — A French ship has picked up signals believed to be from the black boxes of crashed EgyptAir Flight MS804, investigators said Wednesday.

Naval survey vessel “Laplace” has received signals which are assumed to be from one of the plane’s data recorders, Egypt’s investigating committee said in a statement.

The development was confirmed by the French investigation agency, BEA, which said the signals were detected from the seabed in the wreckage search area.

Spokesman Sebastien Barthe told NBC News that the signals were detected by equipment on the vessel belonging to a private contractor, Alseamar.

The signals were definitely from a black box, Barthe said. He stressed that he could not definitively confirm they belonged to the EgyptAir flight but said there was a “strong probability,” adding that it could be a week before the recorders were retrieved.

Egypt has been leading a multi-national effort to locate the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder from the crashed Airbus A320.

The devices are designed to emit acoustic signals for 30 days after a crash, giving search teams fewer than three weeks to spot them in waters up to 9,840-feet deep.

Related: Why Don’t More Airlines Stream Black Box Data?

There had been a series of conflicting reports in recent days regarding whether new signals had been received from Flight MS804.

Investigators hope the black boxes could explain why plane crashed on May 19 with 66 people on board while en route from Paris to Cairo.

Egypt’s civil aviation minister Sherif Fathi has said he believes terrorism is a more likely explanation than equipment failure or some other catastrophic event. However, no hard evidence has emerged on the cause, and no terror group has claimed to have downed the jet.

Earlier, leaked flight data indicated a sensor had detected smoke in a lavatory and a fault in two of the plane’s cockpit windows in the final moments of the flight.

Small pieces of wreckage and some human remains have been found by search teams in wake of the crash. However, the bulk of the plane is believed to be deep under the sea.

In its statement Wednesday, the Egyptian investigation committee said the search was intensifying ahead of the arrival of another vessel, the John Lethbridge, from Mauritius-based company Deep Ocean Search to help retrieve the black boxes. That ship is expected to arrive within a week.

Air safety in Egypt has been under scrutiny since a Russian airliner crashed in the Sinai Peninsula last October, killing all 224 people on board, shortly after taking off from an Egyptian resort.

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EgyptAir search: Egypt says French ship detected potential black-box signals