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Distress Signals Narrow Search for Missing EgyptAir Flight

So far only scattered wreckage has been found. Photo: Egyptian Defense Ministry

Airbus has detected signals from the EgyptAir plane that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea last week, narrowing down the search area for the missing aircraft, CNN reports.

EgyptAir Flight 804 from Paris to Cairo, an Airbus A320 carrying 66 passengers and crew, vanished from air-traffic-control screens at about 3:30 a.m. local time on the morning of May 19, after making a sharp turn and an abrupt descent. The exact cause of the crash remains unknown, as the multinational investigation team has had difficulty pinpointing the location of the wreckage.

Thursday’s discovery by Airbus may greatly increase their chances. According to CNN, the signals from the aircraft’s emergency-locator transmitter, a device that activates on impact to send a distress signal, narrow down the possible location from an area about the size of Connecticut to a much more manageable radius of just over three miles.

Emergency-locator transmitters — of which the plane had three — are different from the “black box,” or flight-data recorder, which emits a separate signal. It’s not clear when the aircraft manufacturer detected the signals, which CNN reports are normally picked up within hours of impact.

France’s accident-investigation agency, BEA, says a naval ship carrying special detection equipment will begin an underwater search within the next few days. BEA may also send a second vessel with robotic-exploration equipment.

Egyptian authorities are leading the investigation with assistance from BEA and other investigative agencies. So far, some debris from the plane, including human remains, has been discovered in the sea, but no crucial parts of the plane, such as the fuselage, flight data, and cockpit voice recorders, have been found.

Signals Narrow Search for EgyptAir Flight 804