Flight PS752 cockpit audio downloaded this morning, says TSB

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Cockpit audio from flight PS752 was successfully downloaded to France this morning, according to a senior Canadian official, but it is still unclear whether the data is recoverable.The President of the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) said that the audio from inside the cockpit of Ukraine International Airlines flight from January 8 is now awaiting analysis.

“They have successfully downloaded the data from the cockpit voice recorder and it is available for analysis. What is on it, I don’t know, “Kathy Fox told CBC News Monday morning from Gatineau, Quebec.

“These data could certainly share the discussions of the crew during the preparation for the departure and the attack of the missile. Have there been any security issues? Were warnings given to pilots? Did they have any idea what was to happen? ”

Fox said that while there is data to analyze, observers are not sure if the audio quality is even usable.

After initially denying responsibility for days, Iran said it mistakenly shot down the flight with missiles shortly after takeoff earlier this year. All 176 passengers on board died, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents.

Over the weekend, Canada deployed a team of TSB investigators to Paris to observe the highly anticipated download and analysis of the aircraft’s two flight data recorders.

“It’s a very long and painful journey for everyone in the family to have this first piece of information,” said Hamed Esmaeilion of Richmond Hill, Ont., North of Toronto. His nine-year-old daughter, Reera, and his wife, Parisa Eghbalian, died in the crash.

“We have to have our answers. ”

Black boxes have been at the center of an international standoff for more than six months. Canada, along with countries around the world that lost citizens in the fall, have joined forces to pressure Iran to follow international conventions and transport the recorders to a country that can read them without delay .

The download was finally scheduled for Monday with representatives from several countries present, including Canada, Iran, France, Ukraine, the United States and Sweden.

Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne welcomed the download of the audio, but continues to push for an investigation into what happened.

Angry families after lengthy investigation

The TSB president has informed dozens of families of victims in Canada that his investigators should likely observe the process virtually in another room in Paris via a live video link. The lab’s download room is not large enough to accommodate everyone while physically distancing themselves due to COVID-19 measures, according to the association representing the families of victims in Canada.

Hamed Esmaeilion, left, lost his wife, Parisa Eghbalian, and their nine-year-old daughter, Reera, in the downfall of flight PS752. (Provided)

Esmaeilion, the association’s spokesperson, said the families did not trust Iran and were angry that it took more than six months to get to this stage of the investigation. Families know the black boxes are just a small window into what happened and won’t provide answers to what they really want to know: who is specifically responsible for the fall and who decided to keep it. open airspace during a night of intense military activity.

“Families are frustrated,” he said. “Some of them are so angry that they cannot wait. “

The recorders could be damaged

The content of flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders is generally critical to accident investigations. In this case, however, the cause is no mystery: Iran later admitted it shot down the airliner, claiming it was mistaken for an incoming missile. In an interim report last week, the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization accused the misalignment of a radar system and the lack of communication between the air defense operator and its commanders of the failure.

Investigators pick up debris from the crash site of the Ukraine International Airlines plane that was shot down after take off from Iran’s Imam Khomeini Airport on January 8, 2020 (Nazanin Tabatabaee / WANA / Reuters)

Iran has also reported in the past that the recorders could have been damaged during the fall, which raises the question of whether experts will be able to read them. The French aircraft accident investigation agency BEA is recognized as one of the world’s leading flight recorder reading agencies.

The cockpit voice recorder captures the conversations between the pilots and the air traffic controller. The data logger includes the takeoff time of the aircraft, its location, altitude, engine and system performance, and the moment the missile struck.

Experts say results will likely be ‘anticlimatic’

Larry Vance, a veteran former TSB plane crash investigator, warned the findings on these black boxes would likely be disappointing.

“If people think we’re going to get a lot of answers on what happened with these data loggers, I think they’re going to be disappointed,” Vance told CBC News. “I think it’s going to be fairly anticlimatic. “

Canadians across the country, including Calgary, lit candles in memory of those who died on Flight PS752. The accident killed 176 people, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents. (Dave Gilson / CBC)

The data could show that the plane was working perfectly, then everything stops just when the missile strikes and the recorders shut down. Ideally, the recorders could have captured a few seconds of the aftermath and noise of the pilots’ reaction in the cockpit, he said.

“The interesting part will be when the first missile hit the plane, did he deactivate the data loggers right away, or was there a period of time when the electricity continued to flow through them and they continued to operate, “said Vance.

Results could take weeks to be made public

During this time, it could take weeks for the results to be interpreted and made public. Swedish officials have told citizens they expect an update in August, according to a letter obtained by CBC News.

“Once the process of downloading the data from the recorders is complete, a fairly heavy workload ensues in order to analyze the thousands of parameters contained in the information,” said a document from the Swedish Accident Authority dated 13 July. .

“I expect this part of the process to take two to three weeks. “

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