May 23, 2016 - The tragic loss of EgyptAir Flight 804 on May 19, 2016 has prompted an onslaught of questions about what caused the plane to disappear off radar over the Mediterranean Sea with 66 people aboard. Search teams have recovered parts of the plane wreckage but continue to hunt for the plane’s fuselage, the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder. As Egypt and France deploy underwater technology to assist with the search, CNN anchor Fredricka Whitfield reached out to ESi Senior Managing Consultant Mitch Garber, M.D., M.P.H., M.S.M.E. to help shed light on the search, what they’ve uncovered so far, and the challenges that lie ahead.
According to Dr. Garber, we may see some rapid developments in identifying possible locations of the black boxes. As sonar receivers are used deeper under water, it will make it easier to hear the sonar message emitted by the plane’s underwater locator beacon or ‘pinger’. Dr. Garber talks about how this accident differs from some of the others in recent history because search teams were able to locate the debris field much more quickly, making it easier to narrow the search area significantly. “It’s shallower. They are looking in the right place. And they’ve got the equipment already on site,” said Dr. Garber. “We don’t have this enormous undefined search area that we just can’t get our hands around.”
Dr. Garber also cautioned against trying to reach any conclusions based on the initial wreckage debris, and stressed the importance of finding the two recorders. “Remember, those will be hundreds of channels of data,” said Dr. Garber. “It’s going to tell us… what the pilots were saying, what they were doing… all of that information is going to be rolled into it. … Really, we’re waiting on those data.”
Between his current role at ESi, and his prior role as the first and only full‐time medical officer for the NTSB, Dr. Garber has been involved in over 1,000 transportation accident investigations, and has given numerous educational and technical presentations in the areas of pathology, toxicology, human performance, and biomechanics in accident investigation. He has presented testimony to Congress about medical issues in transportation accidents. For more information about the interview, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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