France considers new search of AF447 black boxes

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France may order another deep water search for the black boxes of an Air France jet that crashed in the Atlantic last year, the junior transport minister said Monday.

Dominique Bussereau said he would await the latest findings of the BEA air accident investigation agency, due in September, to decide on a new search operation.

Flight 447 between Rio de Janeiero and Paris went down in the Atlantic roughly midway between Brazil and Senegal on June 1, 2009, with 228 people on board, the worst crash in Air France's history.

"I will be receiving in early September some facts from the BEA that will allow me to decide on a possible new search," said Bussereau at an event with the crash victims' families.

A third search of the ocean floor to try to locate the black box flight recorders ended in failure in May.

"The analyses of the three search operations show that there are areas where we do not have to return, areas where we could perhaps return because something may have been overlooked and areas where we have not been at all," said Bussereau.

"We will be examining this over the summer and after that, decide whether or not there will be a fourth search," he said.

BEA director Jean-Paul Troadec said he was in favour of a fourth attempt to try to find the black boxes and the plane wreckage, saying this was "crucial" for the investigation.

The families of the victims also called for a fourth search.

Crash investigators have acknowledged in previous reports that Airbus 330-200's airspeed monitors were faulty, but maintain this could not have been the sole cause of the disaster.

A series of automatic error messages were emitted by the onboard flight computer shortly before the plane disappeared from radar.

© 2010 AFP

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