EgyptAir Loss Strengthens Case For Ejectable Data Recorders

May 31, 2016

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The crash of EgyptAir MS804 has strengthened the case for data recorders that can be ejected out of an aircraft before an accident, removing the need for seabed searches, a senior Airbus engineer said.

Investigators are searching in some of the deepest waters of the Mediterranean for flight recorders from the EgyptAir Airbus A320 which crashed on May 19, killing 66 people.

The jet's flight recorders are designed to emit acoustic signals for 30 days after a crash, giving search teams fewer than three weeks to locate them in waters up to 10,000 feet (3,000 m) deep, which is on the edge of their range.

"If we have a deployable recorder it will be much easier to find," Airbus Executive Vice President for Engineering Charles Champion told a media event.

"We have been working on that and this only reinforces our overall approach."

Ejectable or "deployable" recorders would separate from the tail during a crash and float, emitting a distress signal.

Recommended by investigators after an Air France A330 crashed in 2009, the idea came to the fore after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines MH370 in March 2014.

The UN's ICAO, has called for key data to be recoverable in a "timely manner" on planes delivered after 2021.

But it will be left to airlines and manufacturers to decide how to meet the goal, whether through deployable recorders or other technology such as new homing methods or data streaming.

Deployable recorders have long been used in the military, but some in the industry have expressed doubts about their safe use on civil airliners, saying they could be deployed accidentally and introduce new risks.

Airbus said last year it was talking to regulators about adding deployable devices to its two largest models.

A series of accidents over water including the Egyptair disaster and wider safety issues are likely to be discussed at a meeting of global airlines in Dublin this week.

Teams are racing to find the EgyptAir data recorders, partly because rules that would extend the duration and range of their acoustic pingers do not take effect until 2018.