Following are excerpts from the Cockpit Voice Recorder recovered from the wreckage of EgyptAir flight 990, released today by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. Included are a summary, and a legend to help understand who is talking in the cockpit. The first section is from the flight’s takeoff from JFK airport and first few minutes of flight. The second is from the last few moments of flight, just before the plane plunged into the Atlantic off the coast of Massachusetts.
The NTSB is prohibited by statute from releasing an audio version of the Cockpit Voice Recorder.
The Fairchild model A-100 cockpit voice recorder (CVR), s/n 55155, was delivered by the United States Navy to Andrews Air Force Base on November 14, 1999. National Transportation Safety Board personnel immediately transported it to the NTSB audio laboratory. The Cockpit Voice Recorder committee convened on November 18, 1999 and completed their work on December 2, 1999. Two transcripts were prepared of the entire 31:30 minute recording, one in Arabic/English exactly as spoken on the accident flight and the other with Arabic words and phrases translated to English. (attached)
DETAILS OF INVESTIGATION
The recorder was transported in a container filled with fresh water to prevent corrosion from salt water exposure. The exterior of the CVR showed evidence of significant structural damage. The front panel of the recorder including the underwater locator beacon was missing. The outer metal enclosure was heavily dented so it was necessary to cut it away to gain access to the tape memory module. The memory module and the tape sustained no apparent heat or impact damage.
The recording consisted of four channels of audio information. Two channels contained good quality audio. One of these channels contained the cockpit area microphone (CAM) audio information and the other, audio heard through the first officer audio panel and hot microphone system., The captain’s channel was difficult or impossible to read for most of the recording and the fourth channel contained no usable sounds. The captain was apparently not using his hot microphone system. Advanced audio filtering and amplification techniques were applied to enhance readability of all data.
Correlation of the CVR recording to eastern standard time (EST) was established using times from the Nantucket Airport Surveillance Radar (ASR9) data, the aircraft digital flight data recorder (DFDR) information, and the Air Traffic Control (ATC) transcript developed by the FAA. This data were then correlated to microphone keying and other events that are common to the CVR and FDR. A detailed explanation of the time correlation procedure is available in the Aircraft Performance Group Chairman’s factual report.
The recording and transcript started at 0119:13 as the flight was cleared for takeoff from runway two two right at the John F. Kennedy International Airport. The transcript continued uninterrupted until 0150:38 EST when electrical power was removed from the CVR. The transcript contained the takeoff, climb, and initial cruise portion of the flight. The recording ended shortly after the aircraft started its initial descent from cruise altitude.
(signed) Albert G. Reitan Transportation Safety Specialist (CVR)
CVR Quality Rating Scale
The levels of recording quality are characterized by the following traits of the cockpit voice recorder information: