Flight Data Recorder From Crashed A320 Found


May 22 2006

MOSCOW, May 22 (Itar-Tass) — One of the two flight data recorders
from the Armenian Airbus-320 passenger plane, which crashed into the
Black Sea off Sochi on May 3, was found on Monday, Russian Transport
Minister Igor Levitin said.

The search for the second “black box” will start this night, he said.

The first “black box” was lifted from the seabed at about 3.05 p.m.
(1105 GMT). “The flight data recorder was found under a layer of
soil. The operation to lift it began at 09:00 Moscow time and lasted
six hours. The ‘black box’ has been sent to Moscow for deciphering.

The second data recorder may be not far from the place where the
first one was found,” the operational headquarters told Itar-Tass.

The head of the Interstate Aviation Committee, Tatyana Anodina, said,
“The found flight data recorder is badly damaged because of strong
impact and because of lying in an aggressive environment.”

She said data from the recorder would be analysed by a standard
procedure that will involve officials from Armenia, France, and Russia.

The operation to lift the flight data recorders started last Tuesday
but was interrupted by a strong side wind that constantly carried
away the ship, which is operating the RT-1000 apparatus, which is
conducting the search for the flight recorders.

Silt on the seabed complicated the work, covering the video camera
and the searchlights. The team had to raise the apparatus several
times to clean them. It takes 40 minutes for the apparatus to sink
and as much to come back to the surface.

The apparatus had not participated in such operations before. It
raised only geological samples weighing up to 20 kilogrammes and did
not work at such depths.

The device is capable to lift fragments of a plane weighing up to
12 kilogrammes and the two flight recorders, each weighing seven
kilogrammes, the head of the Federal Agency for Sea and River
Transport, Alexander Davydenko, said.

The RT-1000 is a system consisting of control and lifting equipment
and the apparatus itself with photo and video equipment and a hydraulic
manipulator operating in all directions.

Davydenko said the operation would involve several groups of 18
people. Each will work for eight hours.

The Navigator’s crew obtained the first television image of the flight
recorders lying at the depth of almost 500 metres, using the top-notch
research complex Kalmar.

The Kalmar equipment was provided by the department for salvage and
emergency operations based in the port city of Novorossisk.

The designer of the complex, the Russian corporation Tetis-Pro,
made the Kalmar for the Russian Navy. When the A-320 crashed, the
complex, which includes a sonic depth-tester having the functions of
a side-looking sonar, was still in the phase of testing.

The Kalmar is capable of tracking down objects at the depths of down
to 600 meters.

The flight recorders are lying on the seabed 496 metres from the
surface and about five metres apart. “The visibility is sufficient
for the work to be done,” the minister said.

Flight recorders used on aircraft of the Airbus-320 type withstand
the depth of up to 6,000 meters for 30 days, experts from the French
air crash investigation bureau said.

They said that flight recorders’ radio beacons keep working during
the 30-day period.

One of the flight recorders registers flight parameters, including the
speed, height and direction of the flight and the autopilot operation,
each second. The other gadget records conversations in the cockpit.

Each flight recorder weighs 10 kilograms, including a seven-kilogram
armoured casing for the gadget. The casing can withstand water pressure
at a depth of 6,000 meters, the temperature of 1,100 degrees Celsius,
and the compression of 2.2 tonnes.

The bureau retrieved flight recorders from the depth of over 1,000
meters in the Red Sea in January 2004, when an Egyptian plane crashed
near the Sharm-el-Sheikh resort. The rescuers were using a Scorpio
deep-water apparatus.

A technical commission investigating the Sochi air crash, which is
led by the CIS Interstate Aviation Committee, has asked French experts
to help find A-320 flight recorders.

Of 113 people who were abroad the plane, 51 bodies have been found
so far.

The Airbus A-320 of the Armenian airline Armavia plunged into the
Black Sea as it was making a landing manoeuvre in the early hours of
May 3. The accident claimed the lives of 113 people.

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