Black Box Not Thought To Be From Rwanda
Initial tests indicate
that the flight recorder recently discovered at the United Nations
is not linked to a 1994 plane crash that triggered Rwanda's
genocide, a U.N. spokesman said Wednesday. In a major embarrassment
for the world organization, the recorder was discovered a week ago
in a filing cabinet in the U.N.'s Air Safety Unit where it
apparently languished for a decade after its arrival by diplomatic
pouch from the U.N. Mission in Rwanda.
On Tuesday, U.N. officials took the "black box" to the National
Transportation Safety Board in Washington where it was opened in
the presence of experts from the International Civil Aviation
Organization, a U.N. agency based in Montreal, said U.N. spokesman
After last week's discovery, there was speculation the recorder
might have been from the plane shot down while carrying Rwandan
President Juvenal Habyarimana and his counterpart from Burundi from
a meeting in Tanzania. The genocide in Rwanda began as news of
Habyarimana's death spread, and by the time it ended more than
500,000 people had been killed.
According to Eckhard, the aviation experts on Tuesday found that
the "black box" — which was labeled a cockpit voice recorder
— contained tapes lasting about 30 minutes that recorded some
conversation in French.
"Nothing heard so far on the tape links the CVR (cockpit voice
recorder) to the aircraft crash on April 6, 1994 in Rwanda," he
"Additional expert attention, as is normally the case, will be
required to determine the exact contents of the tape and that
process will take a bit more time," Eckhard said. "Only when we
have this additional review can we draw any definite conclusions
about the recorder."
The cockpit voice
recorder — which is actually orange with two diagonal
cream-colored stripes — was displayed in the U.N. spokesman's
office on Wednesday afternoon. It had an Air France sticker on the
front, though Eckhard said that didn't necessarily mean it came
from an Air France plane.
The rectangular-shaped recorder was made by Fairchild Industrial
Products of Comack, N.Y., and bore the serial number 6285. It
arrived at U.N. headquarters with a sticker saying UNAMIR —
the initials of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Rwanda — and
the date 6/4/94. Eckhard asked for help in identifying it.
Denis Beissel, the retired U.N. official who received the
recorder, told The Associated Press on Friday that he tried to get
the black box analyzed but no one responded and it was "put on a
Even if the black box was from the downed plane, it is unlikely
that the information inside would have changed the course of
events. No one disputes that Habyarimana's plane was intentionally
shot down, and there is little the flight data recorder could
reveal about who was responsible.