Maputo — The Mozambican authorities announced on Thursday that the “black box” flight recorders from the Mozambique Airlines (LAM) Embraer-190 that crashed in northern Namibia on 29 November have been recovered and sent to the United States for decoding.
This is an important step in investigating the causes of the crash, in which all 33 people on board the plane, which was on a scheduled flight from Maputo to Luanda, lost their lives.
Speaking at a Maputo press conference, the chairperson of the regulatory body, the Mozambique Civil Aviation Institute (IACM), Joao Abreu, said the black boxes (the voice recorder and the flight recorder) will be analysed by the US National Transportation Safety Board (NSTB)
“Today the recording of the communications between the aircraft and the Botswana control tower is being listened to, to ascertain more information”, said Abreu.
“This was a modern plane”, he said. “It will speak to us and will tell us what were the final conversations between the pilots on board, what was the communication between the plane and the radar, and what were the reasons for the plane to stop cruising and go into descent”.
The Embraer-190, Abreu said, is a plane with state-of-the-art technology, and with certified General Electric engines, which have also been used for military purposes. “It's a good and safe plane, with fuel for six hours flying time”, he added.
He ruled out the possibility of bad weather causing the crash, since there were many other planes that flew in the same area that day without mishap. But he declined to speculate: the causes of the accident, he said, should be uncovered by the commission of enquiry, which has 30 days to make its preliminary report.
The bodies of 31 of the victims were taken from the crash site to a morgue in Windhoek. According to a report on the independent television station STV, the Namibian authorities were still searching for the two remaining bodies.
Many of the bodies were badly burnt, and the impact dismembered all but one of them. Identifying the bodies is thus a difficult task. Abreu said that collecting data for identification is still only at a preliminary stage.
“Identification by DNA is not the only method”, he said. “There are various possibilities - identification from dental records, from possessions, from scars or tattoes, and if there's nothing else, DNA is used”.