Investigators to unveil images of 2009 Air France crash

Investigators are hoping the discovery of wreckage will shed light on what caused an Air France plane to crash in the Atlantic almost two years ago.

Investigators are hoping the discovery of wreckage will shed light on what caused an Air France plane to crash in the Atlantic almost two years ago.

All 228 people on the Airbus A330-200 were killed when the flight, en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, dived into the ocean on June 1, 2009, after running into an intense high-altitude thunderstorm.

Aisling Butler from Roscrea in Co Tipperary, Dubliner Jane Deasy and Eithne Walls from Belfast had been on a two-week holiday at the time.

Investigators are hoping the discovery of a heap of shattered metal on a mountainous mid-Atlantic sea bed over the weekend will help piece together what happened in the moments before the tragedy.

Air accident investigators are planning to unveil images of the wreckage later today at a press conference near the French capital.

Undersea robots found bodies, engines and parts of the Air France airliner that crashed into the Atlantic two years ago.

But they have not yet found its black box flight recorders, French officials said today.

Victims’ families cautiously welcomed the surprise announcement after nearly two years of fruitless efforts to determine what caused the crash. Investigators have said without the recorders, the reason may never be known.

The French air accident investigation agency BEA said that a team aboard the expedition ship Alucia using underwater robots “has located pieces of an aircraft ... in the past 24 hours.”

French Transport Minister Thierry Mariani said that “bodies have been located.”

Fifty bodies were found during the first phase of the search, along with more than 600 pieces of the plane scattered on the sea. No bodies or debris have been found since.

“This fourth search campaign allowed us to locate motors, landing gear, wing parts, which is a very positive sign because at last we will be able, perhaps, to find out the truth,” Mr Mariani said.

The BEA said that the black boxes have not been located. “I hope to be able to announce that (discovery) in the coming weeks,” a spokeswoman said.

The debris was found a long way down, up to 12,000 ft below the surface. It is far from clear whether the flight recorders, even if they are found, would still be intact after nearly two years under such conditions.

Jean-Baptiste Audosset, who lost his partner in the crash, said the announcement offers “at last a bit of hope.” He said, however, that families remain cautious after an earlier announcement that parts of the plane had been located turned out to be untrue.

The families have many questions about what exactly was found, where and what it might mean.

Three previous search efforts proved futile in attempts to shed light on the cause of the crash.

Finding the cause took on new importance last month when a French judge filed preliminary manslaughter charges against Air France and the plane’s manufacturer, Airbus.

Experts say without the flight data and voice recorders, authorities will not likely determine what was at fault.

Air France and Airbus are paying for the new, fourth search effort that started last month.

The search is being targeted in an area of about 3,900 square miles , several hundred miles off Brazil’s north-eastern coast.

More in this section

Cookie Policy Privacy Policy FAQ Help Contact Us Terms and Conditions

© Irish Examiner Ltd