The Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry released a statement earlier today saying that a French ship picked up “signals from the bottom of the sea in the search area [of the downed EgyptAir plane],” adding that it is assumed to be from one of the plane's black boxes.
Despite French officials’ confirmation that the signal is coming from one of the flight’s black boxes, the location of the box has not been determined. But the pings can now be used to eventually find it.
The ill-fated plane left Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport at 11:09 p.m. local time May 18 and lost contact with the radar tracking system over the Mediterranean Sea at 2:45 a.m., not far from its intended destination in Cairo, according to the airline.
The EgyptAir pilot made a 90-degree turn to the left and then a 360-degree maneuver as the plane plunged about 20,000 feet just before radar contact with it was lost, officials said. The plane's automatic reporting system relayed a message that smoke was detected in the aircraft shortly before it disappeared, which experts believe likely points to a mechanical failure.
Searches for the plane's black box recorders have been underway since May 19, when an investigation into the plane's disappearance began. Debris from the plane has been found over the past two weeks by the U.S. Navy and other groups involved in the search, but the black boxes have remained elusive.
So-called black boxes, also known as flight recorders, can provide crucial information in plane crash investigations, including data on a plane's mechanical systems and the cockpit's audio environment during flights.