State of Air France crash black boxes known Monday

12th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

French investigators will know Monday whether the black boxes recovered from the Atlantic almost two years after the crash of an Air France flight from Rio to Paris still contain usable data.

"We will say what the state of the black boxes is. We'll be able to say if they are usable or if we'll need to do more work," Jean-Paul Troadec, the director of France's BEA aviation safety agency, told reporters Thursday.

Troadec said he was "fairly confident" that the flight data recorders would contain useful information, despite having lain under 3,900 metres of water in the wreckage of flight AF447 for 23 months.

He could not say, however, how long it would take the BEA to turn any data recovered into a conclusion as to the cause of the accident, in which all 228 passengers and crew on board were killed.

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.

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.

Only around 50 of the bodies of the dead were recovered in the immediate aftermath of the crash and many more are thought to be trapped in the wreck. One was recovered last week by a French mini-submarine.

Families are divided over whether to pursue the recovery operation, some would like to take charge of the remains of their loved ones, other have come to terms with their being effectively buried at sea.

French authorities have a mini-sub and a recovery vessel at the crash site, but have warned that the corpses are in a delicate state after two years under water and that any recovery would be complicated.

© 2011 AFP

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