Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Air France Atlantic Jet Crash


Salvage workers will soon start pulling up from the ocean floor the bodies of passengers and wreckage found almost two years after an Air France jet plunged into the Atlantic, officials said Monday.
The discovery of the wreckage, described by relatives of the victims as "very encouraging", has raised hopes that the plane's black box flight recorders will be located and that investigators will finally be able to uncover the cause of the mysterious crash that claimed 228 lives in June 2009.
"It's very encouraging for us who have been without news and and now have hope of retrieving the bodies. We can finally bury them," said Nelson Marinho, president of the association of relatives of the victims.
Investigators announced on Sunday that a fourth and final attempt to find the remains of the Airbus A330 that crashed en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris had been successful.
French Transport Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said some bodies had been seen in the remains of the cabin, photographed by three Remus autonomous submarines.
"There are still some bodies in the section that has been found," Kosciuscko-Morizet told France Inter radio on Monday, adding that "some identifications" could be possible.
Salvage operations could begin within a month to recover the bodies and the wreckage.
Investigators now hope to find the the twin-engine plane's black box flight data recorders, said the head of France's Bureau of Investigation and Analysis (BEA) Jean-Paul Troadec.

  • The Brazilian Navy recovers part of the tail section from the Air France A330 aircraft that crashed over the Atlantic Ocean in 2009. Salvage workers will soon start pulling up from the ocean floor the bodies of passengers and wreckage found almost two years after an Air France jet plunged into the Atlantic, officials said MondayEnlarge Photo

    The Brazilian Navy recovers part of the tail section from the Air France A330 aircraft …

  • New wreckage found after a search is resumed at site where Air France plane crashed en route to Paris from Rio de Janairo in 2009. Salvage workers will soon start pulling up from the ocean floor the bodies of passengers and wreckage found almost two years after an Air France jet plunged into the Atlantic, officials said MondayEnlarge Photo

    New wreckage found after a search is resumed at site where Air France plane crashed …


"The favourable news is that the debris area is relatively concentrated. And this gives us hope of finding the black boxes," he said, adding that the latest find consisted of "engines and certain elements of the wings".
Previous searches recovered a limited amount of wreckage and about 50 bodies.
The new search was launched on March 25 with the help of the Alucia, an exploration vessel of the US-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, and included a much larger area of a 46-mile (75-kilometre) radius around the last known position of Flight 447.
A source close to the investigation said the wreckage was found "near the (plane's) last known position, in a limited area a few hundred metres (yards) to the west of this position.
"The fact that the debris is concentrated in a relatively small area favours the hypothesis that the plane did not break up in flight. The plane was intact when it hit the sea," the source said.
The official cause remains undetermined, but the crash has been partly blamed on malfunctioning speed sensors used by Airbus, with Air France accused of not responding quickly enough to reports that they might be faulty.
"Studying the breaks, how the pieces are bent, will show whether the plane hit the water flat, on its side, etc. It will perhaps give some indication of the speed of the impact," the source said.
But investigators and Airbus remain cautious, stressing that without the black boxes the riddle of the plane's last moments may never be solved.
"We do hope that this discovery will lead to the retrieval and the reading of the two recorders because these data are essential for the understanding of this accident," said Airbus boss Tom Enders.
Air France and Airbus -- who are being probed for alleged manslaughter in connection with the crash, the deadliest in the carrier's history -- are paying the estimated $12.7 million (nine million euro) cost of the search.

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