Egypt to send copy of Russian plane recording abroad for analysis: Minister

Ahram Online , Friday 13 Nov 2015

Civil aviation minister Hossam Kamal did not specify which country would receive the black box recording

Hossam Kamal
Egypt's civil aviation minister Hossam Kamal (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Egypt will send a copy of the sound recording from the Russian Airbus A321 black box abroad for analysis, Egypt's civil aviation minister announced on Friday.

"This sound will be analysed with specific equipment that is not available in most countries," Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamal told state newspaper Al-Ahram in an interview published on Friday.

The minister did not specify which country would receive the black box recording.

Last week, an Egyptian-led investigative committee announced that a sound was caught by the black box seconds before the disaster on Saturday, but it said further analysis was needed to determine what produced the sound.

"The last seven seconds of the black box recording will be sent to one of the countries that manufactures airplanes and that has the equipment to analyse this sound and its cause," the minister said, adding that the original recording will not be transported.

The Airbus was manufactured in Germany, with a French design, and its engine was built in the United States.

On 31 October, a Russian-owned Airbus A321 crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, shortly after taking off from Sharm El-Sheikh airport. All 224 people on board were killed.

The minister also revealed to Ahram Newspaper that the wreckage of the plane would be transferred within two days from the crash site to one of Cairo airport's hangars under the supervision of the investigation committee for further examination.

He also added that a British insurance company, "which issued an insurance policy for the Russian plane" sent a committee to check the wreckage of the plane at the crash site in Sinai before it would be transferred to Cairo.

The minister of civil aviation said that, since the investigation committee has not reached a conclusion regarding the cause of the crash, all possibilities remained, whether it was a technical failure or "an act of sabotage."

Minister Hossam Kamel said that, in terms of technical maintenance, the airline was responsible for hiring or contracting a maintenance company and engineers.

"I am not permitted to speak about the plane's complete technical report because the investigation committee now has it," Kamel added.

FBI won't be allowed to investigate

The investigation committee is led by Egypt and it includes members from Russia, France, Ireland, and Germany.

Asked about the U.S. request to let the FBI participate in the investigation, the minister told Ahram Newspaper that there had been no official request regarding that matter, adding that, "even if they requested it, their request would not be approved because they do not have the right [to participate in investigations]."

"According to international rules in investigating plane crashes, the country that manufactured the airplane engine can participate in investigations," said Kamel, adding that the engine of the Russian plane was manufactured by U.S.-based Pratt & Whitney, thus the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board "NTSB" has the right to participate in the investigation if it requests to do so.

CNN reported on 11 November, however, that the NTSB “received word that Egypt accepted its offer to assist in the Metrojet crash investigation, a U.S. source with knowledge of the investigation said.”

'Conspiracy against Egypt'

Kamel believes that some foreign countries and Western media outlets created what he calls “a strange climate unfamiliar to me in these kinds of accidents."

"We were surprised with the fast media campaign claiming that the plane crash was due to a terrorist attack, without any evidence and before we started collecting information. It is as if there is a conspiracy against Egypt focused on matters other than the crash or the safety of the passengers," Kamel told Ahram Newspaper.

Following the crash, several countries imposed restrictions on flights to Egypt, with Russia halting all flights to Egypt and Britain suspending flights to Sharm El-Sheikh.

"We asked countries to provide any information they have to the investigation committee, but no one has provided anything," he added.

"Nobody asked to inspect the airports in London after Lockerbie or the U.S. airports after 9/11 or after what happened with the Malaysian airplane," he said, adding that most likely the "campaign" was aimed to target Egypt economically.

North Sinai-based militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis claimed it downed the Russian plane as revenge for Syrians killed during the Russian air strikes against the ISIS group.

The militant group, which has pledged their allegiance to ISIS, has not provided any details on how it carried out the attack.

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