x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Delays hit search for plane's black box

Much of the military plane that crashed into the sea near the Palm Deira at the weekend remains under water.

DUBAI // The black box that would determine the cause of Friday's plane crash near the Palm Deira could take almost two weeks to retrieve from the bottom of the Gulf, it was revealed yesterday.

Enrico Scarabotto, the chief test pilot of Alenia Aermacchi, the makers of the Italian M-346, had earlier said the wreckage, including the box, would be retrieved yesterday.

However, a spokesman for the defence attache of the Italian Embassy in Abu Dhabi said yesterday: "We are arranging to bring the parts back on land. But, it is a very difficult and costly process. We don't know how long it could take. It depends on the weather conditions."

He added that retrieving the black box could take up to 10 days.

The two pilots - Quirino Bucci and Giovanni Paganini - ejected just before the aircraft crashed into the sea, three nautical miles from the Palm Deira, which is under construction. The pilots had been returning to Italy after the Dubai Airshow.

Yesterday, Captain Bucci, who sustained minor injuries, left hospital. He is expected to return home soon.

However, his co-pilot and flight engineer, Giovanni Paganini, was recovering from surgery on his leg.

He is expected to be discharged within the next few days.

"They [the pilots] made sure the aircraft was in a safe area before the crash," said Mr Scarabotto.

"The pilots were able to send an emergency signal. As soon as they touched water, they were rescued right away," he said, adding that UAE authorities executed the rescue operation with perfection.

pkannan@thenational.ae