As you know, through the efforts of the United States Navy, we recovered the flight data recorder from EgyptAir flight 990 and had it flown down here to Washington yesterday. Our engineers began working on the recorder in our laboratory immediately. After working late into the night, they took a break for a few hours, and have been back at work on the recorder since this morning.
Under the procedures we use, as well as Annex 13 of the International Civil Aviation Organization, the investigator-in-charge, Greg Phillips, is forming a flight data recorder group made up of specialists from the NTSB, the Federal Aviation Administration, Egyptian authorities, Boeing Aircraft Company and Pratt & Whitney Engines. It will be their job to read out in more detail and confirm all the data pertinent to this accident.
We do have some initial, preliminary data that we can share with you, but you must understand that it is preliminary, and I will not elaborate on it for you until the FDR group has had an opportunity to confirm the data.
The data show an uneventful flight, cruising in level flight at 33,000 feet. The first event we note in the data is the autopilot disconnecting. About 8 seconds later, the airplane begins what appears to be a controlled descent. Data recovered so far indicates the airplane descending to about 19,000 feet; we are still in the process of recovering data from the remaining 5 to 10 seconds. The altitude profiles portrayed by the radar data and the flight data recorder appear to be consistent. The recorded data ends about the time of the last transponder beacon return.
There is no evidence of thrust reverser deployment in the data we have. The aircraft does not appear to have reached supersonic speed during this descent.
We cannot expand upon the information we have for you at this time. We await information off the cockpit voice recorder, when it is recovered, that can help us put this information in context.
As we are awaiting recovery of the CVR and are just beginning extensive work on the FDR with the flight recorder group, I cannot tell you at this time when we'll have more recorder information to share with you.
Let me close by updating you on the Navy's recovery effort. Weather conditions continue to drive the pace of operations. Navy salvage assets have been actively employed to take advantage of the good weather over the last two days.
Unfortunately, heavy seas are anticipated Thursday, followed by a possible window of good weather on Friday and Saturday. NOAA ship Whiting is already back in port. The other smaller vessels involved in the recovery effort (Grapple, Mohawk, Oriole) will depart the salvage area this evening and arrive in port on Thursday to resupply and prepare to take maximum advantage of the predicted favorable weather conditions this weekend.
SSV Carolyn Chouest will remain on site conducting ROV operations as long as weather conditions permit, supported by USS Austin and U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Juniper.