The French and Mali aircraft accident investigation agencies published initial findings of the July 24 accident involving Air Algérie flight 5017 near Gossi, Mali.
The French (BEA) and Mali (Commission d’enquête sur les accidents et incidents de l’aviation civile du Mali) investigators reported that the cockpit voice recorder of the Swiftair-owned MD-83 jet was “unusable”. The recorder had sustained damage in the accident, but the recording presumably failed due to a malfunction of the recorder unrelated to the accident damages.
The aircraft departed Ouagadougou at 01:15, reaching the cruising altitude of FL310 at 01:37. At FL310, the aircraft flew at a cruising speed of about 280kts.
About two minutes after the start of the cruise, while remaining at FL310, the speed gradually began to decrease as the plane was navigated around a storm cell. The plane began to descend gradually and speed continued to decrease to about 160kts.
Then the airplane began a left descending turn, quickly losing altitude. The last recorded data by the FDR was at 01:47:15 at an altitude of 1600ft, a speed of about 380kt.