Bombay, India — A special investigatory panel headed Monday for Bombay to listen to flight and voice recorder’s retrieved from an AirIndia jet that crashed last month off the Irish coast, killing all 329 people on board.

Investigators are expected Tuesday to unseal the flight, and cockpit voice recorders recovered from the jumbo jet. They hope the “black boxes” actually painted orange for visibility will provide the clue to the crash.

The AirIndia Boeing 747, on a flight from Canada to India, vanished from radar screens 31,000 feet in the air and crashed June 23 off the coast of Ireland.

A special investigative panel led by New Delhi High Court Judge D.N. Kirpal left New Delhi on Monday for Bombay, where members will watch technicians unseal the recorders found in 6,700 feet of water last week by robot submarines.

The recorders are stored in the metal containers they were placed in after they were recovered and it is not known if they were damaged.

Kirpal, appointed to head a judicial inquiry into the cause of the disaster, told reporters before departure from New Delhi, “It is too early to say anything about the inquiry.”

Kirpal and his panel of five aviation and explosives experts will direct the analysis of the devices that could provide vital clues about whether the crash was due to electrical or structural failure or a bomb. Canadian and British aviation experts have criticized the decision to return the recorders to India on grounds more advanced analytical equipment was available in the West.

The initial playing and decoding of the flight data recorder are to take place Tuesday at Air India’s engineering shop in Bombay, where the boxes have been held under police guard since they were returned on Saturday.

But officials said the recorders would be taken to Bombay’s Bhabha Atomic Research Center if more sophisticated equipment is needed to analyze the information.

A senior scientist at Bhabha said technicians at the research center “worked through the weekend” to prepare frequency analysis equipment, special tape recorders, amplifiers and electronic noise filters to analyze the cockpit sounds recorded in the final moments of the flight.


Indian investigators have maintained an_ explosion was the most likely explanation for the crash, but Canadian experts contended there was no evidence of a bomb or bomb damage to support the theory.

(See Editorial)

Article extracted from this publication >>  July 19, 1985