Cork, Ireland — International aviation investigators said Tuesday they may never be able to determine whether a bomb caused the crash of an Air India jumbo jet that went down in the Atlantic with the loss of 329 lives.

While they said all evidence indicated the plane broke up Sunday at an altitude of nearly 6 miles possibly due to an explosion there were obstacles in pinpointing the actual cause,

Jack Young of the National Transportation Safety Board one of four American investigators, said the key problem was recovering the plane’s two inflight recorders, which sank in about 6,000 feet of water about 120 miles off the Irish coast.

“We are not optimistic about recovering the black box,” Young said. “You’re talking about 6,000 feet of water. How do you get something out of 6,000 feet of water? I don’t know. I wish we knew how to recover it.”

Asked if there was hope of establishing the cause of the crash without the recorders, Young said, “There’s always hope, but I’m not optimistic. We have to be realistic.”

The impact resistant “black boxes” one registering all flight data, the other cockpit voices and sounds should send out a directional beacon signal for about a month. They are actually painted bright orange for visibility.

Irish government spokesman Joe Jennings said two naval vessels would press ahead with the search for the recorders. A sophisticated survey ship also has been chartered to search for them.

At 6,000 feet, officials said the recorders can only be detected by sonar, meaning the ships will have to make careful sweeps of wide areas.

Article extracted from this publication >>  June 28, 1985