There have been several high energy impact accidents where there was total destruction of the aircraft. Valujet 592, American Eagle 4184, USAir 427 and Eastern Airlines flight 980 that crashed at 21000 feet in the Andes Mountains (picture). Unlike some experts have stated that the crew would not have been aware of their proximity to the ground – that is not correct. In fact Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) uses a virtual terrain database to provide a crew with advanced warning of dangerous proximity to high terrain. The fact that there was no evidence of remedial action to level the aircraft or take action to avoid terrain will be a key issue.
The CVR maybe the more critical black box in this accident.