BEIRUT, (AP) – Lebanon’s marine commandos on Sunday recovered the black box of the Ethiopian Airlines jet that crashed into the Mediterranean last month, a Lebanese army officer said.
The Boeing 737 crashed Jan. 25 minutes after takeoff from Beirut during a fierce thunderstorm. All 90 people on board died.
Analysing data stored in the black box is critical to determining the cause of the crash.
The officer said the black box was “carefully” pulled out and taken Sunday to a Lebanese naval base in Beirut. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly to the media.
Passenger jets carry two black boxes — a data flight recorder and a cockpit voice recorder.
The two are usually located in the rear of a plane, the area most likely to survive a crash intact.
The two are commonly referred to as simply “the black box.”
The Lebanese army officer said he did not know if the box recovered was the data flight recorder, the cockpit voice recorder, or both.
He said the black box would later be handed over to a technical committee investigating the crash.
On Saturday, Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi said that once the black box is retrieved, it will be transferred to BEA investigators in Beirut in accordance with international provisions and in the context of a cooperation agreement between Lebanese civil aviation authorities and the BEA.
BEA, or Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses, is a French agency that specializes in assisting with technical investigations of air crashes.
Aridi had earlier said that the black box was located at a depth of 150 feet (45 meters) off the coastal village of Naameh just south of Beirut airport.
Earlier in the day, the officer said search crews have located the cockpit of the jet but there were no bodies inside it. Work was continuing to bring the cockpit to the surface, he said.
Fifteen bodies have so far been recovered from the sea since the crash.