But when they resume that search Wednesday, they'll know exactly where they will be going. That's because they located that black box, the cockpit voice recorder, at a depth of about 200 feet Sunday, reports CBS News Correspondent Jeffrey Kofman.
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The first box is now in Ottawa. It survived the crash, but there is no data after the plane fell below 10,000 feet.
"Flight data recorders do require, of course, electricity to operate," said Vic Gerden of the Canadian Transportation Safety Board. "So that is an indication that there wasn't electricity going to this data recorder."
That means Flight 111 was probably without power for its last six minutes in the air. Without information on those critical last minutes, it may be impossible to determine why the pilot chose to circle over the ocean and dump fuel rather than attempt an immediate landing with a very heavy load.
The way the MD-11 is designed, the engines still work and the steering can still work without electricity. But that would mean that the plane's pilot and co-pilot would have been using brute force to keep it aloft.
In a scare Monday night that was reminiscent of last week's crash, a charter plane belonging to a subsidiary of Swissair's parent company returned to Halifax shortly after reporting smoke in its galley.
The Balair/CTA Airbus A-310 was on a flight from Zurich to Vancouver via a scheduled stop in Halifax with 144 passengers on board, SAirGroup spokeswoman Beatrice Tschanz said in Zurich. The smoke was caused by a short-circuit, she said.
"It was not an emergency landing" and went without any problems, Tschanz said. The plane continued to Vancouver early Tuesday, she said.