Search for Air France black boxes to resume in February

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The search for the black boxes from an Air France airliner crash off Brazil six months ago will resume in early February, the head of the French office investigating the accident said here Saturday.

Rio De Janeiro - The search for the black boxes from an Air France airliner crash off Brazil six months ago will resume in early February, the head of the French office investigating the accident said here Saturday.

The new underwater sweeps, approximately 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) off Brazil's northeast coast, will last a maximum three months and involve sonar and robot submarines, said Jean-Paul Troadec, director of the Investigation and Analysis Bureau.

He was visiting Rio de Janeiro to speak to relatives of the 58 Brazilians who were on board before a fresh, more complete report on the tragedy was made public in Paris next week.

The crash of flight AF 447 was the worst in Air France's 75-year-history.

On June 1, the Airbus A330 came down in the Atlantic as it was flying from Rio to Paris, resulting in the deaths of all 228 passengers and crew on board.

The cause of the accident is still unknown, but investigators say malfunctioning airspeed probes on the aircraft were a factor.

The flight data and cockpit conversations recorded on the black boxes are crucial to determining the circumstances of the crash.

Three months of searches by a French navy submarine and sonar-equipped ships failed to locate the devices after the accident.

Since then, an international team of researchers has pored over information on currents and underwater topography to try to narrow the area for a new attempt.

Troadec told reporters that he informed the families of the state of the investigation during a three-hour meeting in the French consulate, and responded to their questions about compensation.

"We tried to convince the families that we are conducting the investigation with the full intention of getting to the truth," he said.

He said the upcoming report contained "no surprises" but did set out "new details, notably in terms of safety recommendations."

The first, preliminary report, released in September, concluded that the Pitot airspeed sensors on the Airbus "were one of the factors that led to the accident, but were not the only ones."

A final, definitive report was due by the end of 2010, Troadex said -- or earlier if the black boxes are found.

AFP/Expatica

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