A member of the Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen, a Pakistani Shiite political organization, lights candles in Karachi on May 27, 2020, during a vigil for the victims of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crash on May 22. (Photo by ASIF HASSAN/AFP via Getty Images)

SEARCH teams on Thursday (28) recovered the cockpit voice recorder from the wreckage of a Pakistani airliner that crashed last week, a spokesman for the airline said.

The Pakistan International Airlines Airbus A320 crashed on May 22 into a crowded residential district of the port city of Karachi, killing 97 people on board. Two people survived.

“The search resumed this morning and the voice recorder was found buried in the debris,” spokesman Abdullah H. Khan said in a statement. “The cockpit voice recorder recovery will help a lot in the investigation.”

The flight data recorder had already been found.

Earlier, the spokesman told media the black box had been found and it contained both the data and voice recorder.

Parts of the wreckage of the A320 were removed from the site on Wednesday (27) after extracting them from building rubble in the densely populated area where the PIA jet crashed, residents and eyewitnesses said.

PIA flight PK 8303, flying from the eastern city of Lahore crashed roughly a kilometre short of the airport runway.

Under international aviation rules, French investigators from the BEA – the French air safety investigation authority for civil aviation – have joined the Pakistan-led probe because the 15-year-old Airbus jet was designed in France.

Their arrival was initially hampered by widespread travel bans in force to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The French team and technical representatives of Airbus and engine maker Safran had to be flown in on an Airbus A330-900 test plane.

Particular focus will be on the plane’s CFM56 engines, one of which plunged into the side of a building, according to a person close to the investigation.

The engines were made by CFM International, a joint-venture of France’s Safran and General Electric, and are among the most widely used and reliable in the airline industry.

The pilot reported both engines had failed shortly after the plane bounced and scraped along the runway in a failed initial landing attempt.

He made no reference to a landing gear problem as the aircraft followed what appeared to be a steeper-than-usual descent, according to people close to the probe. Video showed the wheels extended on the second, fatal attempt to land.

Safety experts stress it is too early to say what caused the crash.