Indian aviation authorities said today they expect to begin analyzing the flight and data recorders from a crashed Air India jet Tuesday with computers at this country's leading nuclear research facility.
An international team of aviation safety experts, including U.S. and Canadian specialists, gathered in Bombay for the arrival tonight of a six-member judicial court of inquiry appointed by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The team will supervise the investigation into why the plane crashed into the Atlantic off the coast of Ireland on June 23 with the loss of all 329 persons on board.
The crash generally is believed to have been caused by an explosion, most likely a terrorist bomb, although it could also have resulted from a structural failure in the Boeing 747 or pilot error.
Scientists at India's Bhabha atomic research center in Bombay, one of the most sophisticated scientific institutions in the country, worked through the weekend to get ready for the analyses of the two vital recorders, recovered last week from more than a mile beneath the sea and flown there submerged in tanks of sea water.
Indian authorities said that Justice D.N. Kirpal, named by Gandhi to head the court of inquiry, will supervise the analysis of the cockpit voice recorder and a digital readout of flight data from the aircraft's instruments immediately before the crash, which apparently occurred so suddenly the pilot had no time to send a distress signal.
Under international aviation regulations, representatives from Canada, where the Air India flight originated, and the United States, where the plane was made, will help in the investigation.
The nuclear research center in Bombay has equipment to electronically filter extraneous noise from the tapes and to enhance both the voice and data the recorders contain for easier computer analysis, officials said in Bombay.
The cockpit recorder should contain the last words of the flight crew before the plane crashed. It could also pick up sounds of an explosion, experts here said. The other recorder contains data from about 60 instruments throughout the plane.