Seabed search for crash victims

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Seabed search for crash victims

Unread post by bimjim » Fri Apr 22, 2011 ... 6043580188

Seabed search for crash victims
From: AFP
April 23, 2011
THE bodies of passengers on a 2009 Air France flight that dropped out of the sky will be pulled from the ocean.

The Ile de Sein will sail from Senegal in hopes of recovering the black box flight recorders from the Airbus A330 and find out why it plunged into the Atlantic en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris in June 2009, killing 228 people.

Alan Bouillard, the official of France's Bureau of Investigation and Analysis (BEA) in charge of the probe, called the search "a real challenge."

"We will be working at a depth of 4000 metres (13,000 feet) which complicates the recovery task enormously," he said.

If the flight recorders are found, there was also the problem of analysing the data they contained, particularly if they are damaged, Mr Bouillard said.

The Ile de Sein is equipped with an underwater robot and a massive crane to bring up parts of the plane weighing several tonnes, such as the engines.

The main wreckage of Flight 447 was found three weeks ago on the fourth and final attempt.

Robot submarines had photographed some bodies in the remains of the cabin, French Transport Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said.

Previous searches had recovered a limited amount of wreckage and about 50 bodies.

"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," a source close to the investigation said earlier.

The cause of the crash remains unknown, but it has been partly blamed on Airbus' malfunctioning speed sensors, and Air France has been accused of not responding quickly enough to reports the sensor 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.

Air France and Airbus - which are being probed for alleged manslaughter in connection with the crash, the deadliest in the carrier's history - are paying an estimated $US12.7 million ($12 million) for the search.
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