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Saturday, November 13, 1999 Published at 03:01 GMT


World: Americas

EgyptAir engines cut off

Investigators unlocked the secrets of Flight 990's flight data recorder

Data decoded from the flight recorder of EgyptAir flight 990 which crashed last month shows that the engines cut off during the plane's rapid descent into the Atlantic.

The loss of flight 990
The latest information from the National Transportation Safety Board laboratory shows that eight seconds after the autopilot was turned off at 33,000 feet, power to the two engines was throttled back and the plane put into a dive.

The new information was gleaned from the flight data recorder of the plane that crashed into the Atlantic soon after taking off from New York's JFK airport on 31 October, killing all 217 people on board.


[ image: The NTSB chairman stresses the findings are only preliminary]
The NTSB chairman stresses the findings are only preliminary
At some stage in the descent, those on board would have experienced weightlessness.

A master warning system was then activated, but apparently ignored.

The angle of descent then lessened, but a few seconds later the start levers on both engines changed from run to cut-off and the data showed the engines shutting down.


The BBC's Simon Harrison: "The search for the voice recorder is ongoing"
The NTSB chairman, Jim Hall, said the data raised many questions, but he had no answers.

Mr Hall refused to say whether the autopilot disconnected manually or automatically.

Search back on

US navy divers retrieved the data recorder from the ocean floor on Tuesday, and have resumed the search for the second "black box" after weather and technical problems.

The second recorder should contain conversation and other audio information from the cockpit.


Washington correspondent Paul Reynolds describes the sequence of events
BBC Washington correspondent Paul Reynolds said the recovery of the cockpit voice recorder was all the more important in order to find out why the plane dived and why the engines were later cut off.

Two underwater robots - the Deep Drone off the USS Grapple and the Magnum off the civilian ship Carolyn Chouest - were hunting in the debris 250 feet below the surface.

A preliminary analysis of the flight data recorder, which was recovered on Tuesday showed there was no evidence that the plane's thrust reversers had deployed accidentally - as had originally been feared.



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