Underwater robots have discovered dead body remains and debris of a France downed airplane, but the hunt continues for flight recorders to determine cause of Airbus crash and other relevant informations leading to the crash
Investigators have found bodies among the wreckage of the Air France plane discovered around 4,000 metres (2.5 miles) deep in the Atlantic Ocean, nearly two years after the airliner dropped out of the sky.
Flight AF447 from Rio to Paris disappeared on 1 June 2009, killing all 228 people on board. In the days after the crash around 50 bodies and several hundred aircraft parts were picked up out of the water.
Despite three costly searches, nothing more was found until Sunday, when undersea robots discovered part of the aeroplane’s cabin containing bodies.
The find shows the aircraft did not smash to pieces when it hit the sea, as previously thought.
But French officials said they had not yet located the flight recorders from the Airbus A330, which would enable them to establish the precise cause of the crash. Investigators say that without the black boxes, the cause may never be determined.
The French transport minister, Thierry Mariani, told a radio station that “bodies have been found” but said he would not give any more details until the victims’ families had been informed.
Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, minister for environment and transport issues, was more direct: “In the past we found the tail, pieces scattered about, but this time we have found a large part of the plane surrounded by debris, she told French radio.
“I’m not an expert but everything didn’t explode. There is part of the cabin and in this cabin there are bodies.” She said it was possible that the bodies might be identified.
A statement from the French air investigation unit, the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA), said the latest search for the plane, that began a fortnight ago, had discovered the engines, landing gear, and wing parts. They were discovered by underwater robots operating off an expedition ship at a depth of between 3,800-4,000 metres.
“The good news is that the area over which the debris is scattered is relatively concentrated. Because of this we hope to find the black boxes,” BEA director Jean-Paul Troadec said.
Air France director Pierre-Henri Gourgeon added the find was good news. “It brings hope that we will finally have information a bout the cause of this accident that until now remains unexplained.”
In the days after the crash, only a small percentage of the aircraft and around 50 bodies were retrieved from the water. Nothing else has been found until now despite three costly searches. Preliminary investigations have claimed the aircraft, which was flying through a high-altitude thunderstorm when it disappeared, may have suffered a failure of its speed sensors. Both Air France and Airbus have been put under investigation for manslaughter.
Robert Soulas, the vice-president of a crash victims’ association, described the find as “excellent news”, that might finally reveal “the truth about this crash”.