Phoenix International Holdings, Inc. (Phoenix) announced its participation in the successful location and recovery of the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) from Yemenia Flight IY626 that crashed upon its approach to the Moroni Airport on Comoros 30 June 2009. Only one person survived among the 153 people that were onboard the Airbus 310-300.
The FDR and CVR were successfully located in 1300 msw of water 6 miles offshore Grande Comore using acoustic beacon locator systems capable of hearing the emissions from the salt-water activated beacons attached to the aircraft's recorders. The Phoenix designed and operated Remora, a 6000 msw depth capable Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), was used to refine the search area, map the debris field, and then recover the recorders, aircraft computers, designated pieces of the aircraft, and 59 of the aircraft's occupants. Remora logged 458 hours of bottom time over 28 dives.
Remora was mobilized aboard EDT Offshore's M/T EDT ARES, an 80.75 m long, DP II vessel home ported in Limassol, Cyprus. The mobilization included taking special security precautions to ensure vessel and crew safety due to the piracy activities in the Indian Ocean area. After an 18-day transit, the search/recovery team began same day operations at the crash scene. Operations ceased 13 September.
Phoenix conducted the search and recovery project at the direction of the Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses (BEA), the French counterpart to the National Transportation Safety Board in the United States. BEA provided essential support for the operation including identification of the initial search area, assistance with shore-side logistics, and identification of the aircraft components to be recovered that would be critical to the crash investigation. Phoenix personnel managed and conducted all at-sea tasks. The largest piece of wreckage that was rigged and recovered weighed 5 tons. Phoenix is currently under contract to BEA to perform search and recovery operations for the wreckage of Air France Flight 447 lost 1 June 2009 on its flight from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Paris, France.