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Black Box Yet To Be Traced, 22 Bodies Yet To Be Identified

Investigators hunted in vain for the crucial Data Recorder--the 'black box'--of the crashed Air India plane for the second full day on Monday in Mangalore and were studying tapes of air traffic control contact with
PTI May 24, 2010 20:28 IST
PTI

Investigators hunted in vain for the crucial Data Recorder--the 'black box'--of the crashed Air India plane for the second full day on Monday in Mangalore and were studying tapes of air traffic control contact with the aircraft in its final moments.

Bodies of 22 persons were meanwhile yet to be identified prolonging the agony for grieving families waiting to claim their loved ones and the results of DNA tests were awaited.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sent his "deep condolences" to the families of those who died and held a one-minute silence before a news conference in New Delhi.

Operations for the search of the orange-coloured Digital Flight Data Recorder or the 'black box'--which had been the focus of investigators-- were suspended in the evening and will be resumed tomorrow. It is mounted in the tail of an aircraft.

A preliminary replay and analysis of the audio taped conversation between the Air Traffic Control at the Bajpe Airport and the pilots of the Boeing 737-800, moments before the crash, was carried out today, official sources said.

Investigators had yesterday recovered the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and Digital Flight Data Acquisition Unit (DFDAU) from the wreckage of the ill-fated flight from Dubai that crashed at Bajpe airport here on Saturday killing all but eight of the 166 persons on board. DFDAU is similar to the 'black box' Digital Flight Data Recorder(DFDR) but stores information only for a shorter period of time.

The two on-board devices would be brought to New Delhi soon for a detailed  analysis to help determine the causes of the country's worst air accident in a decade.

The CVR and DFDAU, which record the cockpit audio and most of the aircraft's technical details, would be brought to the DGCA headquarters in New Delhi for analysis, the sources said.

The airline meanwhile denied lax safety claims saying Air India Express meets all regulatory requirements and has been always well equipped to handle the operations and maintenance of its fleet to established standards.

Pilots and engineers were fully trained and qualified, while regulators had audited and cleared every aspect of its work, the airline said in a statement while describing Air India Express as a "world-class international low-cost carrier".

The CVR and the DFDAU, which were retrieved from the debris in a burnt condition, would be analysed by officers of the DGCA's Air Safety Division. While the CVR captures radio transmissions and sounds in the cockpit such as the pilots' voices and engine noise, the DFDAU records all parameters of a short-duration flight.

However, since the two crucial equipments are damaged, efforts would be made to take the electronic chips of the CVR and insert them in a serviceable unit in order to retrieve the information contained in it, the sources said.

Analysis of CVR and DFDAU is expected to take at least a fortnight, while the analysis of all records and documents collected would take a couple of weeks, they said.

Four teams of investigators from engineering, operations, ATC and aerodrome units, made several rounds of inspection of the wreckage, the runway and the adjoining areas of the accident site.

These teams have also collected a large number of material for evidence through extensive search of the aerodrome, runway and navigational facilities, the sources said.

An official statement had yesterday said that though the CVR was "affected by fire it is expected to yield the desired information".

The teams have already taken over all records pertaining to the aircraft and the air crew for investigations, the sources added.

 Meanwhile, police have kept 22 bodies in cold storage at different hospitals in Mangalore.

Gopal B Hosur, IG (Western Range), told PTI that DNA samples of these 22 bodies, as well as the claimants, have been taken.

The DNA 'matching' reports are expected in three to five days. PTI