Black box data from crashed Air France jet intact

INVESTIGATORS have pulled data from the black boxes of an Air France jet which crashed in the Atlantic in 2009, boosting efforts to explain what caused the disaster and killed all 228 people on board, including three Irish women.

France’s BEA air crash investigation agency said it had managed to transfer all the information stored in devices hauled from the seabed two weeks ago, almost two years after the Airbus A330 vanished in an equatorial storm.

The transfer — carried out at the weekend and filmed in front of investigators from four countries and French judicial officials — is the most important breakthrough yet in efforts to find out what caused the mysterious crash.

The BEA brought forward its target date for publishing a new report on the crash by around six months and said it may be able to issue interim findings in the summer.

“The most interesting thing will be to find out what the crew were seeing and understanding and how they were reacting and managing their responses,” said Paul Hayes, safety director of British-based aviation consultancy Ascend Aviation.

Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris vanished in the storm on June 1, 2009, triggering an international hunt for the wreckage and black boxes that might contain clues.

The recorders were hauled nearly 4km to the sea’s surface in early May after a search operation and shipped to Paris, where they arrived last Thursday. At first it was unclear whether the data would be readable.

The successful data transfer includes all information from the flight data recorder, which monitors aircraft systems, and a loop containing the last two hours of cockpit voice recordings.

The operation took place after the memory cards and chips containing the recordings were dried out in carefully controlled conditions at BEA labs just outside Paris.

Relatives of some of the 228 people killed in the crash have voiced hope that their wait for an explanation may soon be over.


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