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One of the two flight data recorders from the Armenian Airbus-320 passenger plane was found on Monday
One of the two flight data recorders from the Armenian Airbus-320 passenger plane, which crashed into the Black Sea off Sochi on May 3, was found on Monday, Russian Transport Minister Igor Levitin said. The “Black box” has been lifted from the seabed. “The flight data recorder was found under a layer of soil. The operation to lift it began at 09:00 Moscow time and lasted six hours. The ‘black box’ has been sent to Moscow for deciphering. The second data recorder may be not far from the place where the first one was found,” the operational headquarters told Itar-Tass. The operation started last Tuesday but was interrupted by a strong side wind that constantly carried away the ship, which is operating the RT-1000 apparatus, which is conducting the search for the flight recorders. Silt on the seabed complicated the work, covering the video camera and the searchlights. The team had to raise the apparatus several times to clean them. It takes 40 minutes for the apparatus to sink and as much to come back to the surface. The apparatus had not participated in such operations before. It raised only geological samples weighing up to 20 kilogrammes and did not work at such depths. The device is capable to lift fragments of a plane weighing up to 12 kilogrammes and the two flight recorders, each weighing seven kilogrammes, the head of the Federal Agency for Sea and River Transport, Alexander Davydenko, said. The RT-1000 is a system consisting of control and lifting equipment and the apparatus itself with photo and video equipment and a hydraulic manipulator operating in all directions. Davydenko said the operation would involve several groups of 18 people. Each will work for eight hours. The Navigator’s crew obtained the first television image of the flight recorders lying at the depth of almost 500 metres, using the top-notch research complex Kalmar. The Kalmar equipment was provided by the department for salvage and emergency operations based in the port city of Novorossisk. The designer of the complex, the Russian corporation Tetis-Pro, made the Kalmar for the Russian Navy. When the A-320 crashed, the complex, which includes a sonic depth-tester having the functions of a side-looking sonar, was still in the phase of testing. The Kalmar is capable of tracking down objects at the depths of down to 600 meters. The flight recorders are lying on the seabed 496 metres from the surface and about five metres apart. “The visibility is sufficient for the work to be done,” the minister said. Flight recorders used on aircraft of the Airbus-320 type withstand the depth of up to 6,000 meters for 30 days, experts from the French air crash investigation bureau said. They said that flight recorders’ radio beacons keep working during the 30-day period. One of the flight recorders registers flight parameters, including the speed, height and direction of the flight and the autopilot operation, each second. The other gadget records conversations in the cockpit. Each flight recorder weighs 10 kilograms, including a seven-kilogram armoured casing for the gadget. The casing can withstand water pressure at a depth of 6,000 meters, the temperature of 1,100 degrees Celsius, and the compression of 2.2 tonnes. The bureau retrieved flight recorders from the depth of over 1,000 meters in the Red Sea in January 2004, when an Egyptian plane crashed near the Sharm-el-Sheikh resort. The rescuers were using a Scorpio deep-water apparatus. A technical commission investigating the Sochi air crash, which is led by the CIS Interstate Aviation Committee, has asked French experts to help find A-320 flight recorders. Of 113 people who were abroad the plane, 51 bodies have been found so far. The Airbus A-320 of the Armenian airline Armavia plunged into the Black Sea as it was making a landing manoeuvre in the early hours of May 3. The accident claimed the lives of 113 people.
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