Pilots of Air Algerie jet asked to turn back

France said on Monday the pilots of the Air Algerie passenger plane that crashed in Mali, killing all 118 people on board, had asked to turn back. It’s a new development to a complex probe into the tragedy. Speaking hours after the black box flight recorders of the McDonnell Douglas 83 jet arrived in Paris from Mali to help investigators, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said air crash experts currently on the remote desert site of the accident were working in “extremely difficult conditions”. Reports that the crew asked to amend their route because of bad weather conditions emerged almost as soon as the tragedy came to light on Thursday, but the revelation that they subsequently asked to turn back is a new development.

What we know for sure is that the weather was bad that night, that the plane crew had asked to change route then to turn back before all contact was lost.

France’s Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius

Experts from Mali, Algeria and Spain were also helping to determine why the plane - which was operated by Spanish charter firm Swiftair on behalf of Air Algerie - came down with such force that it completely disintegrated. Investigators from the U.S. were also due to join them. Basic data has already been extracted from one black box, including the speed, altitude and trajectory of the plane, though details have not been released.