Black box breakthrough a 'big comfort' for families

6th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

A breakthrough possibly locating the site of the black boxes from an Air France crash in the mid-Atlantic last year is a "big comfort" for families of the 228 people who died, a representative said Thursday.

"It's a big comfort for the families because all the problem is concentrated in these black boxes," Nelson Marinho, the head of a Brazilian-based association for 100 families of those who died on flight AF447, told AFP.

"Air France and the (French) Investigation and Analysis Bureau said they have to have the black boxes to shed light on the causes of the accident," he said.

Investigators do not fully understand why the Air France Airbus fell out of the sky on June 1, 2009 as it was flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

The French air accident agency BEA has said that the jet's speed probes, made by French firm Thales, gave false readings and were "one of the factors" in the crash, but "not the sole cause."

France sent ships three times to sweep the zone where the plane came down to try to find the black boxes. Overnight, officials said they believed they now knew where the devices were, based on new computer analysis of initial sweeps that appear to have picked up the now-extinct homing beacons.

"When my wife heard the news this morning at breakfast, she broke down in tears. More than 200 families are still despairing and want to know what happened. I lost my son and his body was not found. Only 50 bodies were recovered," Marinho said.

Marinho also said he was upset Air France did not notify him and the other relatives of the breakthrough.

"Air France did not have the sensitivity to personally tell us the news. I'm indignant over that."

Marinho said the families hoped Air France would now assume its responsibilities.

"The flight recorders have been located, but they have to be brought up from the bottom of the water. We are now going to see whether, with the black boxes, Air France assumes its errors, its responsibilities," he said.

The crash was the worst in Air France's 75-year-history.

© 2010 AFP

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