2nd Recorder Recovered From Armenian Plane

The Associated Press
Wednesday, May 24, 2006; 12:10 PM

MOSCOW -- Searchers on Wednesday recovered the second flight recorder from an Armenian airliner that crashed into the Black Sea three weeks ago, killing all 113 people aboard, local media reported.

The flight data recorder was lifted by a diving apparatus from a depth of about 1,640 feet after it was separated from a thick layer of silt, said Transport Ministry spokeswoman Svetlana Kryshtanovskaya, according to the RIA-Novosti news agency.

The data recorder was discovered within 50 feet from where workers on Monday found the plane's cockpit voice recorder.

Russian television channels showed a yellow, remote-controlled apparatus lifting the red recorder from the sea surface.

Investigators hope the two recorders will help answer why the Armavia Airbus A-320 plane plunged into the sea May 3 in heavy rain and poor visibility. The flight had been en route to the southern Russian sea resort Sochi from the Armenian capital, Yerevan.

Prosecutors almost immediately dismissed the possibility that terrorists had brought the plane down, and officials point to rough weather or pilot error as the likely cause. Armavia officials have suggested, however, that air traffic controllers were at least partly to blame.

Top Armenian aviation officials will travel to Moscow Thursday for deciphering the recorders, a process that could also take place in Paris with the involvement of Airbus, said Gayane Davtian, a spokesman for Armenia's civil aviation authority.

Meanwhile, the victims' relatives are to receive compensation of $20,000 each, the insurance company liable for the payments said Wednesday.

"The insurance payments will not depend in any way on the cause of the catastrophe," said Artak Antonian, head of the Grand insurance company.

© 2006 The Associated Press