EgyptAir passengers
A woman passes by photos of the EgyptAir victims, at the Cairo Opera House Reuters

Emergency signals from downed EgyptAir Flight MS804 which crashed into the Mediterranean Sea on 19 May have been detected by Egyptian search teams. The lead investigator to the crash told reporters on 26 May that the signals could help them locate the plane's fuselage on the sea floor.

The detection of the signal, which was emitted from the plane's emergency locator transmitter, would mark a crucial break in the search for the Airbus A320. CNN noted that the signals from the emergency locator transmitter are different from those emitted by the plane's black box recorders.

The signals would drastically decrease the search area to a 5km, or 3.1 mile, radius, thus allowing investigators to better zone in on the pings from the black boxes, Captain Ayman Al Moqadem told Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram. The black boxes have enough battery life to emit location signals for 30 days, but EgyptAir deputy chairman Ahmed Adel has said that the search for the recorders would extend beyond the 30 days if necessary.

"There are many examples in similar air accidents when 30 days passed without finding the box yet" these planes' black boxes were found, Adel told reporters.

According to France's accident investigation agency the BEA, a French vessel, identified as La Place, equipped with special detection equipments will begin an underwater search for the wreckage "in the coming days". La Place reportedly departed on 24 May from Porto Vecchio towards the Egyptian coast.

Egypt and France have been working together to search for the down Paris-to-Cairo plane, which carried 66 people on board. The two countries have deployed submersibles in search of the aircraft's flight data and cockpit voice recorders (black boxes).

CNN reported that France may decided to send a second vessel, this time equipped with an underwater exploration robot and lifting mechanics to work in the deep waters of the Mediterranean. The BEA will provide technical assistance to the Egyptian authorities.

Finding the aircraft's wreckage will allow investigators to piece together information as to how Flight MS804 crashed, the Wall Street Journal reported. The wreckage can reveal whether the plane exploded mid-air, or if it landed in the sea intact. Until now, Egyptian investigators have found some debris and human remains, which have been sent to a forensic lab for analysis.

Investigators have not ruled out any possible cause for the crash.