Open main menu

Wikinews β

Flight recorders from Air France Flight 447 found

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The cockpit voice recorder of Air France Flight 447.
Image: BEA/ECAPD.

Officials from France's aviation accident investigation agency, the Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA), announced on Tuesday that they had recovered the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) of Air France Flight 447. It was located and brought to the surface by a Remora 6000 unmanned submarine, then taken aboard the Île de Sein, one of the vessels taking part in the recovery and salvage efforts.

This came two days after an announcement on Sunday that the crash-survivable memory unit of the flight data recorder (FDR) of the aircraft had been located and brought to the surface. The chassis of the FDR was located on April 27, with the memory unit missing. It was found a short distance from the chassis. It was also brought to the surface by the Remora 6000.

With the recovery of both recorders, which are reported to be "in good condition", French officials hope to determine what caused the Airbus A330-200 to crash into the Atlantic Ocean on June 1, 2009, when it departed Rio de Janeiro's Galeão International Airport before it was lost 600 miles (965 km) off the coast of Brazil en route to Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport with 228 passengers and crew on board.

Cquote1.svg If you were to throw a computer into the ocean, imagine how all the parts would eventually split and you have the corrosive effects of seawater and the depths involved. Cquote2.svg

—Phil Seymour, International Bureau of Aviation

The leading theory at the moment is that the crew received incorrect air speed readings from the aircraft's pitot tubes, devices which measure how fast the aircraft is traveling. Experts say the tubes may have become iced over, causing the crash. The plane's Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) sent out 24 messages over a four-minute long period stating numerous problems and warnings, including incorrect air speed warnings occurring aboard the aircraft, just prior to it going down.

However, chief operating officer of the International Bureau of Aviation, Phil Seymour, speaking to CNN, believes the memory unit will not be of much use to investigators saying because of the depth it was located at, "If you were to throw a computer into the ocean, imagine how all the parts would eventually split and you have the corrosive effects of seawater and the depths involved." Seymour believes the wreckage will help reveal what happened as more is recovered.

File photo of the Airbus A330-200 (F-GZCP) involved in the accident
Image: Pawel Kierzkowski.

"It may be that the more wreckage they find will help them to piece it all together, which bit by bit could help them build a picture of what caused the plane to come down," he added.

A BEA spokesperson had agreed with that possibility a few days earlier when speaking to the Associated Press about the recovery of the flight data recorder. "We can't say in advance that we're going to be able to read it until it's been opened," the spokesperson said. As

The wreckage of the Airbus A330-200, was found back on April 8 at a depth of 3,800 and 4,000 meters (2,070 to 2,190 fathoms or 12,467 feet and 13,123 feet), by a team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, using a Remus robotic submarine and its side-scan sonar. After the wreckage was found, another Remus robot submarine with cameras was sent down to the site, where it filmed bodies in the wreckage. The location of the recorders were localized within 2 square miles (5 square kilometers) of the flight's last position last year.

In March, a French judge placed the European aircraft maker Airbus and Air France under investigation for possible involuntary manslaughter charges in the 2009 crash. Both are paying the cost of the search which is estimated to be $12.7 million (nine million euro). The crash is the deadliest in Air France's history.


Related news

Sources