Unclear 'noise' recorded before A321 crash, its nature to be determined – Egypt’s investigators

The Russian A321’s black box recorded an unclear noise before crashing in Sinai, the head of Egypt’s investigation committee has confirmed. However, spectral analysis is required to determine its nature.

UPDATE: Black boxes analyzed, show no sign of system failure – Aviation Committee

The head of the Investigations Committee, Captain Ayman Mokadem, said the nature of debris scatter suggests an in-flight break up, but it is still too early to draw conclusions on the causes of the crash. While both flight data recorders have been found, the investigators are still studying them.

Mokadem confirmed that some “noise” can be heard on the recording right before the crash. He still said its nature is unclear and a spectral analysis will be carried out to identify it.

An international team of investigators are at the scene still “collecting information,” he said.

According to the flight data recorders, the incident occurred 23 minutes and 14 seconds after takeoff at an altitude of 30,888 feet in climbing mode, at a speed of 281 knots-autopilot engaged, he said. 

The investigators have listened to the audio from the cockpit voice recorder and are currently in the phase of writing the transcript, he added.

Access to the crash site has been impeded by bad weather since Tuesday, he said. An investigation team consisting of 58 experts plan to return to the site as soon as weather conditions improve in the next few days.

The investigation has established that the pattern of the debris scattered over a wide area of more than 13 kilometers, while not all parts of the plane have yet been found, he added.

Initial observations do not yet allow the identification of the origin of the break up, Mokadem said.

"We did not reach until this moment any conclusions,” he said.

With no official statements made on the cause of the crash, there has been media speculation that a bomb explosion on board downed the aircraft. On Friday, several French media cited unnamed officials allegedly close to the investigation as saying that that a sound similar to that of an explosion could be heard on the recording.
The Egyptian head of the investigation told reporters on Saturday that he cannot confirm these reports.

Meanwhile, during the week there have been several US media reports which cited intelligence officials speaking on the causes of the crash. On Tuesday, media reported that a US infrared satellite had detected a heat flash in the same vicinity, indicating that an explosion may have occurred on board.

READ MORE: Cherry-picking facts may lead Sinai crash probe down MH17 lane – Russian aviation agency chief

The committee does not have such evidence, said the Egyptian official, urging the public to provide any information that would aid the investigation.

The Airbus A321, which belonged to Russian Kogalymavia, which uses the brand name Metrojet, crashed in Sinai after takeoff from Sharm el-Sheikh airport on October 31. All 217 passengers and seven crewmembers on board died in the disaster, making it the deadliest incident of this kind in Russian aviation history. There was no distress call prior to the crash.

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