Flight data from Rio-Paris crash intact: investigators

16th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

All flight data from the Air France jet that crashed into the Atlantic in 2009 have been preserved in the plane's retrieved black box recorders, French aviation authorities said Monday.

The BEA air safety agency probing the crash of the Rio to Paris flight, in which all 228 people on board were killed, said it recovered the data from the recorders, pulled from the ocean after a nearly two-year search.

"Following operations to open, extract, clean and dry the memory cards from the flight recorders, BEA safety investigators were able to download the data over the weekend," it said in a statement.

"These downloads gathered all of the data from the flight data recorder, as well as the whole recording of the last two hours of the flight from the cockpit voice recorder."

The Airbus A330 crashed en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on June 1, 2009. It was only last month that investigators found the main wreckage in deep waters midway between Brazil and the west African coast.

"In the framework of the safety investigation directed by the BEA, all this data will now be subjected to detailed, in-depth analysis," the agency said.

"This work will take several weeks, after which a further interim report will be written and then published during the summer."

Investigators say the cause of the accident remains unconfirmed, but interim inquiry results point to a problem with the Airbus A330 jet's air speed probes -- known as "Pitots" -- which are thought to have iced up.

Since the accident, Air France has replaced the Pitots on its Airbus fleet with a newer model, and pilot's unions and some of the victims' families have accused the airline of reacting too slowly to safety warnings.

Both Airbus and Air France insist they reacted properly, and both companies are awaiting the results of the BEA inquiry. Courts are investigating accusations against both companies that blame them for the passengers' deaths.

A spokesman for an association of the crash victims' families, Jean-Baptiste Audousset, welcomed the announcement. "This is good news, especially after these two trying years," he told AFP.

The president of an association for Brazilians killed in the crash, Nelson Faria Marinho, said: "The whole world has its eyes glued on the outcome of this affair."

"We strongly hope the analysis of the flight recorders will provide answers to the questions asked for nearly two years by the victims' families, our company and all of the air transport community," an Air France spokesman said.

© 2011 AFP

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