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Black box recovered from crash site in Mangalore

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CRUCIAL EVIDENCE: An aviation official holds the black box recovered from the wreckage of the plane in Mangalore on Tuesday.
CRUCIAL EVIDENCE: An aviation official holds the black box recovered from the wreckage of the plane in Mangalore on Tuesday.

Govind D. Belgaumkar and Sudipto Mondal

NTSB team from U.S. arrives to help in investigation

MANGALORE: The investigation team of the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) recovered the Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR), commonly known as black box, on Tuesday morning, three days after the Boeing 737-800 aircraft with 166 people on board crashed after overshooting the runway here.

One hundred and fifty-eight people, including the six-member crew, died when the Air India Express IX-812 flight from Dubai plunged into the woods after crashing through the perimeter wall at high speed, split into two and caught fire, on Saturday morning. Eight people survived the accident.

A press release issued by the Civil Aviation Ministry in New Delhi described the black box as “the most vital source of information [about the accident].”

“The DFDR has been handed over to the air safety team of the DGCA and is being brought back to the DGCA headquarters. The DFDR, though apparently impacted by the crash, will be subjected to further tests for decoding and made available to the investigators,” it said.

The release said the investigation team undertook an intense combing of the wider area at the site with the assistance of Karnataka government officials and other specialised technical services on Tuesday. The device was recovered around 10 a.m., said Deputy Superintendent of Police S. Girish, whose men had been guarding the area.

Mr. Girish said the lid of the one-foot-long device was missing, and its contents, which included a prominent cylindrical object, were charred.

The cylindrical object is the ‘Crash Survivable Memory Unit' (CSMU) and, as the name suggests, it is the most important component of the unit which also has an inbuilt power supply system.

Data unlikely to be affected

According to investigators, despite being charred on the surface, the CSMU's data was unlikely to be affected as it is made of steel armour and has a layer of insulation and a thick “thermal block.” The memory board, which stores flight data, is at the core of this unit. Usually painted in orange, the black box lost its colour, having been exposed to extremely high temperature.

The DGCA team recovered the Cockpit Voice Recorder and the Digital Flight Data Acquisition Unit on Sunday.

Experts from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an autonomous agency of the U.S. government, arrived at the airport here, at the invitation of the Indian government, to take part in efforts to find out the cause of the crash.

They will assist Indian agencies such as the DGCA involved in the investigation.

The NTSB is considered one of the world's leading aviation disaster investigation organisations. , is an autonomous agency of the U.S. government.

Their expertise in the U.S.-made Boeing aircraft is also likely to come in handy since the plane that crashed was a Boeing 737-800.

Highly placed sources said the Indian government might even hand over partial or full charge of the investigation to the NTSB at some stage.

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