What Could EgyptAir MS804's Black Boxes Tell Us?

Early on Thursday, EgyptAir Flight MS804 disappeared from radar while en route from Paris to Cairo. The plane, an Airbus A320, was around 175 miles from the coast of Egypt when it disappeared. The Airbus A320 has two black boxes, devices that are designed to be virtually indestructible so that when found at the wreckage site, they can tell us how and why the plane crashed. According to The Guardian, these boxes could be arranged similarly to those of the Germanwings plans that crashed in 2015: one a cockpit voice recorder, the other a flight data recorder.

Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi said it was a "stronger" possibility that terrorism caused the plane to disappear than a technical failure. If found, the black boxes could help us determine what happened in the final moments before the Airbus A320 crashed. As CNN noted, a distress signal was recorded in the area around two hours after EgyptAir Flight MS804 disappeared, but it’s unclear so far whether it came from the missing plane. The plane appears to have plunged from an altitude of 37,000 feet when it hit Cairo air space, according to what Greek officials told CNN.

"All causes for the disaster are open, whether it is a major technical fault or a terrorist action or any other circumstance," an official who declined to be identified told Reuters. "This will be ascertained when we inspect the plane’s wreckage and transcribe its black boxes." According to CNN, Greek aviation control tried to contact the plane when it crossed into Greek air space but received no response.

Thus far, two pieces of orange debris have been discovered that are believed to be from the plane, according to a Greek military official who spoke to the AP. They were reportedly located 230 miles south-southeast of Crete.