- WASHINGTON (AFP) - Preliminary
information from the in-flight data recorder on downed EgyptAir Flight
990 show that contrary to earlier reports, the plane fell in a "controlled
descent," the lead investigator said Wednesday.
- "The data show an uneventful flight, cruising at
33,000 feet (11,000 meters). The first event we note is the autopilot disconnecting.
About eight seconds later, the airplane begins what appears to be a controlled
descent," said Jim Hall, chairman of the National Transportation Safety
Board in a press conference.
- Hall did not say whether the automatic pilot was disconnected
manually by the pilots or automatically.
- "Data recovered so far indicate the airplane descending
to 19,000 feet. We are still in the process of recovering data from the
remaining five to ten seconds," he said, adding that the plane did
not near the speed of sound during its fall.
- Hall also said that preliminary data does not indicate
that the plane's thrust reversers deployed during the brief flight.
- Earlier data compiled from radar centers along the eastern
US coast had indicated that the Boeing 767 made a series of violent ups
and downs -- possible nearing the speed of sound at one point -- before
crashing into the ocean.
- One of the plane's thrust reversers, which pilots use
on the ground during landings to slow the plane, was broken and had been
locked into place before takeoff. A malfunction in the thrust reverser
had caused the 1991 crash of a Lauda Air Boeing 767 in Thailand, and a
similar scenario was considered a possible cause of the EgyptAir crash.
- The Cairo-bound flight crashed into the ocean 100 kilometers
(60 miles) off the coast of Nantucket island, killing all 217 people on
board, only about 30 minutes after take-off from John F. Kennedy International
Airport in New York.
- Hall repeated that the data from the recorders is "preliminary,"
stressing that the investigation is continuing.
- "The proper analysis of this information ... needs
to be done accurately and carefully," he said.
- Hall also announced that in accordance with NTSB regulations
and the International Civil Aviation Organization, he has formed a team
of experts to analyze the black box.
- The team includes investigators from the NTSB, the Federal
Aviation Administration, Egyptian authorities, Boeing, and Pratt and Whittney,
the company that makes the recorders.
- "It will be their job to read out and, in more detail,
confirm all the data pertaining to this accident," Hall said.