PARIS: Cockpit voice recordings from an Air Algerie jet that crashed last month in northern Mali are unintelligible, investigators said on Thursday, depriving them of vital clues on what sent it into a sudden plunge that killed all 116 passengers and crew. The McDonnell Douglas MD-83 aircraft, en route to Algiers, smashed into the ground on July 24 south of the Malian town of Gossi, near the border with Burkina Faso. Experts in Paris have been examining the two “black boxes” retrieved from the wreckage. They have been unable to extract information from one, Remi Jouty, president of France’s BEA air accident investigator, told a news conference.
The voice recorder on the 18-year-old aircraft used magnetic audio tape, a system since replaced by digital methods. The tape was broken or crumpled in places. Even after it was repaired, the pilot conversations could not be understood.
“There is sound on the tape but it is unintelligible,” said Jouty, whose agency has been asked to support Mali’s own investigation.
“The device seemed to be recording, but we don’t yet know why it did not work, except that this was not a result of the crash itself,” he told reporters, adding that first indications were that it was a “simple technical problem”.
French officials have said they believe bad weather was an important factor in the crash of flight AH5017 but have not ruled out other explanations. “We’re trying to avoid overly hasty theories,” Jouty said, adding all hypotheses were still on the table. The pilots had asked for permission to alter their route because of a storm as they flew north after taking off from the capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou.
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