Investigators find black box from Air France crash

Investigators hope this remarkable discovery will allow them to determine what caused the June 1, 2009 crash of Flight 447.

Updated - November 17, 2021 07:01 am IST

Published - May 02, 2011 08:37 am IST - PARIS

Investigators have located and recovered the memory unit of the flight data recorder of a 2009 Air France flight - a remarkable deep-sea discovery they hope will explain why the aircraft went down in a remote area of the mid-Atlantic, killing all 228 people on board.

France’s air accident investigation agency BEA said a search by a submarine probing some 3,900 meters (12,800 feet) below the ocean’s surface located and recovered the unit Sunday morning. The unit is now aboard the ship Ile de Sein, the statement said.

The statement also included photos of the recorder - a red cylinder partially buried in sand on the sea floor. Judging from the photos, the unit appeared to be in good condition.

Last month, the agency said the undersea search had identified the “chassis” that had held the recorder, but said the memory unit was still missing. The flight data recorder stores data from the flight. Another so-called “black box” records cockpit conversations.

Investigators hope this remarkable discovery will allow them to determine what caused the June 1, 2009 crash of Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to the French capital, Paris. The aircraft slammed into the Atlantic northeast of Brazil after running into an intense high-altitude thunderstorm.

Automatic messages sent by the Airbus 330’s computers showed it was receiving false air speed readings from sensors known as pitot tubes. Investigators have said the crash was likely caused by a series of problems, and not just sensor error.

The crash site was so remote and in such a deep area of the Atlantic that the bulk of the wreckage was only recently discovered, thanks to a deep-sea search.

Experts have said that without retrieving the voice and data recorders there would be almost no chance of determining what caused the crash - the worst disaster in Air France’s history.

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