Rio-Paris flight families eye 'truth' about 2009 crash

16th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Brazilian families of those who died when an Air France flight crashed into the Atlantic in 2009 said Monday they may finally learn "the truth" now that data has been preserved from black box recorders.

"This news is a great satisfaction for us," Nelson Faria Marinho, president of a Brazilian association of victims' families, told AFP shortly after French aviation authorities said that all flight data from the Air France jet has been preserved in the retrieved black boxes.

"Two years later, we hope to finally know the truth," added Marinho, whose son was among the 228 people killed when the Airbus A330 crashed en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on June 1, 2009.

The BEA air safety agency probing the crash said it recovered the data from the recorders, pulled from the ocean after a nearly two-year search.

"The whole world is watching the outcome of this matter," Marinho said. "Everyone wants to know what happened. Thirty-two countries (that lost citizens on the flight) want to know."

Fifty-nine of the victims were Brazilian, and 72 were French.

It was only last month that investigators found the main wreckage on the ocean floor midway between Brazil and the west African coast.

French investigators announced last week that a robot submarine had retrieved the second of two cockpit voice and data recorders from the doomed airliner.

It will take several weeks to further analyze the data, after which an interim report will be written and published in the summer, investigators said.

Investigators say the cause of the accident remains unconfirmed, but interim inquiry results point to a problem with the Airbus A330'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.

Marinho reiterated that Brazilian families want the recovery of all the bodies in the wreckage 2.5 miles (4.0 kilometers) below the surface, with the use of DNA tests, if necessary, to identify their loved ones and give them a proper burial.

Only about 50 of the dead were recovered from the ocean at the time of the crash, and French officials said imagery taken by deep-sea vessels which found the wreckage show that many bodies are visible within the fuselage on the seabed.

However, authorities recently warned that the deep-water operation faces "highly complex and unprecedented conditions."

© 2011 AFP

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