The location and analysis of the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR) are urgent concerns
in the aftermath of an accident. In the case of the Pakistan International Airways A320 that crashed near the Jinnah International Airport near Karachi on Saturday, there is confusion if both recorders have been recovered and if so, who has them. The mandatory pair of recorders are usually located in the rear of any aircraft to maximise its chances of survival in a crash. They are painted in high-visibility orange to aid recovery and are designed to easily withstand the catastrophic conditions of an impact.
Media reports from Pakistan as relayed by Flight Global quoted PIA as saying both devices were located and recovered the same day from the crash site in the Model Colony area of Karachi. Quoted in The Hindu of India, the PAI Chief Executive Arshad Malik said that the ‘black box’ had been handed over to the investigation team. He made no mention of the CVR, and it is unclear why he mentioned only a single recorder.
It is expected that the recorders will confirm the initial reports that the aircraft’s engine touched the runway during an aborted attempt at landing, the subsequent apparent loss of power, possible stall and final impact. Records should also reveal any alarms that may have been triggered. A greater mystery is the exact nature of the conversation between the pilots and air traffic control, including the apparent initial silence regarding the landing gear.
The team investigating the accident is led by Pakistani authorities, with assistance by engine manufacturers CFM and French investigators BEA acting for Airbus. The team has confirmed today that the CVR ‘has not been found to date’.
It seems remarkable that one, but not the other recorder has been found some four days after the event.
Travel Radar will continue to monitor events.
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