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Second robot to work on recovery of EgyptAir 'black boxes'

recovery operation
The undersea robot Deep Drone follows the pinging sounds emitted from the black boxes on the ocean floor  

November 8, 1999
Web posted at: 8:37 a.m. EDT (1237 GMT)

In this story:

Too dangerous for divers

Relatives mourn, many return home


NEWPORT, Rhode Island (CNN) -- EgyptAir crash investigators plan to use a second high-tech robot Monday in the attempt to recover the elusive "black boxes" from Flight 990.

Eight days after the Boeing 767 plunged into the Atlantic off Massachusetts, claiming 217 lives, the cockpit voice and flight data recorders remain on the ocean floor.

In previous retrieval attempts, the Navy lowered the undersea robot Deep Drone from the USS Grapple without snaring the black boxes, located about 250 feet under water.

EgyptAir information lines:

In the U.S.:
(800) 243-1094

Outside the U.S.:
(202) 245-2244
(202) 244-1460
(202) 418-3690

FBI Information line:
VideoCNN's Martin Savidge reports on the mood in Newport, Rhode Island, where families of Flight 990 crash victims are staying.
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Message Board: Plane crashes


Each time, when claws of the Deep Drone moved a piece of wreckage to try and get closer to the black boxes' distinct pinging sounds, clouds of silt blurred the robot's video cameras -- frustrating technicians controlling it from the Grapple's deck.

The Grapple returned to shore Sunday to refuel and restock amid seas too rough to get work done.

When the recovery effort resumes, the Navy plans to employ a second robot, the Magnum ROV.

The robot is the latest, most sophisticated, machine of its kind, able to maneuver and operate even in rough seas, said National Transportation Safety Board Chairman James Hall.

It was being carried aboard the civilian ship Carolyn Chouest.

Too dangerous for divers

Hall seemed optimistic Friday when Deep Drone was first deployed into the ocean because it had detected the loud pinging sounds from the black boxes -- an indication that the devices were nearby.

"Assuming that the pingers are still intact with the box ... then we have an exact location," the NTSB chairman told CNN Monday. But, he added, the area where the wreckage is located is "far too dangerous" for divers to attempt the retrieval.

"The debris fields are as dangerous as any we have dealt with in NTSB experience, so we are going to try to accomplish this task with these remote vehicles," Hall said.

Relatives mourn, many return home

There is still no indication why Flight 990 plummeted from 33,000 feet, crashing into the water less than an hour after takeoff October 31 from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

relatives mourn
Following a seaside memorial service Sunday, many relatives of crash victims returned to their homes  

On Tuesday, a Coast Guard helicopter is scheduled to drop flowers at the crash site. The flowers are from relatives of the crash victims who gathered in Rhode Island for an emotional multi-faith memorial service held Sunday at a park overlooking the ocean.

After the ceremony, many family members left immediately for airports to return to their homes in Egypt, the United States and other points.

On Saturday, relatives were granted their wish to see the plane's wreckage at Quonset Point, a former Navy base across Narragansett Bay from the search command center in Newport, Rhode Island.

Correspondents Susan Candiotti, Gary Tuchman, Carl Rochelle and Charles Zewe contributed to this report.

Relatives, dignitaries mourn victims of EgyptAir crash
November 7, 1999
Attempt to retrieve EgyptAir 'black boxes' resumes
November 6, 1999
Digging for EgyptAir 990 'black boxes' to resume in morning
November 5, 1999
Roller coaster ride of EgyptAir 990 disputed by experts
EgyptAir's final dive at supersonic speed, radar indicates
November 4, 1999
NTSB: Radar data indicate EgyptAir 990 broke up before impact
November 3, 1999

U.S. Navy
  • Navy equipment used to assist in recovery and investigation operations
  • U.S. Navy assists with recovery operations for Egyptair Flt 990
  • COMNAVSURFLANT Maintenance
National Data Buoy Center (crash site weather)
U.S. Department of Defense
  • The Pentagon
Muslim Public Affairs Council
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey
United States Coast Guard
  • Coast Guard - First District news and information
The Boeing Company
  • Boeing Statement on EgyptAir 767 Accident
  • Boeing 767-300: Overview
National Transportation Safety Board
  • Aviation
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