A police officer inspects the wreckage of the Mirage-2000 fighter aircraft after it crash landed at HAL airport, soon after taking-off for a training sortie in Bangalore on Friday

The badly damaged Flight Data Recorder (Black Box) retrieved from Friday's Mirage 2000 crash at HAL Airport here will now be sent to France. The aircraft's original equipment manufacturer (OEM), Dassault Aviation, will study the recorded data to understand what went wrong. 

Defence sources disclosed that the black box had suffered extensive damage since the aircraft had caught fire after it crashed and broken the arrester barrier at the far end of the airport runway. Investigators found it tough to retrieve information locally.

Minutes after its high-speed runway roll, the aircraft was on fire, as the two pilots ejected out. But their parachutes caught fire, one of them landing too close to the burning plane. Both pilots, Squadron Leaders Siddhartha Negi and Samir Abrol, were declared dead within an hour after the crash.

Besides Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and the Indian Air Force (IAF), the investigating team also has members from the Director General of Quality Assurance (DGQA) and Centre for Military Airworthiness & Certification (CEMILAC).

The team did not want to take any chances with the damaged black box, and decided to send it to the France-based OEM, the sources said. The data mined from the recorder will be verified with eye witness accounts that had attributed the crash to the aircraft's wheels and undercarriage coming off.

The jet crash had invited national attention after a top retired IAF official blamed HAL for delivering a faulty aircraft that had just been upgraded. However, a test pilot attached to the defence PSU had claimed that the upgraded Mirage 2000 was perfectly fit, and was certified as so by one of the IAF test pilots.

The episode was back in the spotlight when Sqn Ldr Abrol's widow Garima Abrol penned a poem that blamed the authorities for allowing the use of 'outdated' flying machines. That post on Instagram and subsequently copied on Twitter had gone viral.

A line in Garima's poem read, “While the bureaucracy enjoyed its corrupt cheese and wine. We give our warriors outdated machines to fight.” Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had later paid a visit to the parents of both the deceased pilots. While Abrol was from Ghaziabad, Negi hailed from Dehradun.