Two weeks after its ATR 72-600 crashed into the Mekong river, Lao Airlines says it still has not been able to retrieve the turboprop's flight recorders.
“Unfortunately, while the signal from the black box continues to be detected and despite relentless efforts by the recovery team which remain ongoing in the search area, this has yet to be retrieved,” says its vice-president Somsamay Visounnarath.
The carrier had expected to retrieve the flight recorders last week when recovery teams lifted the rear fuselage of the turboprop, where the recorders are located, from the Mekong river with a crane. Laos' department of civil aviation later said that the recorders could have fallen out in the process.
French investigation authority BEA had brought detectors to Laos that allowed its investigators to hear the acoustic beacons attached to the aircraft's flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder. This helped narrow down the location of the recorders to within a 20m area.
Recovery of the recorders is necessary to help determine the exact circumstances of the crash. Recovery efforts have, however, been slow because of the river's strong current and the lack of visibility in the water.
Lao Airlines says 47 bodies have so far been recovered. There were five crew and 44 passengers on board the fatal flight on 16 October.
The turboprop, registered as RDPL-34233, had accumulated 758 flight hours before the crash. It was delivered new to the airline this March and underwent an A-check in September.