13 Dec 2009

Search for Air France black boxes to resume next year

1:59 pm on 13 December 2009

The search for the black boxes from an Air France airliner crash off Brazil will resume in February, the head of the French office investigating the accident says.

The crash of flight AF 447 was the worst in the airline's 75-year-history.

The Airbus A330 came down in the Atlantic on 1 June as it was flying from Rio to Paris, resulting in the deaths of all 228 passengers and crew on board.

The new underwater sweeps, approximately 1,000km off Brazil's northeast coast, will last for a maximum three months and involve sonar and robot submarines, said Jean-Paul Troadec, director of the Investigation and Analysis Bureau.

Mr Troadec was visiting Rio de Janeiro on Saturday to speak to relatives of the 58 Brazilians who were on board before a fresh, more complete report on the crash was made public in Paris next week, AFP reports.

The cause of the accident is still unknown, but investigators say malfunctioning airspeed probes on the plane were a factor.

The flight data and cockpit conversations recorded on the black boxes are crucial to determining the circumstances of the crash.

Three months of searches by a French navy submarine and sonar-equipped ships earlier this year failed to locate the devices after the accident.

A final, definitive report was due by the end of 2010 Mr Troadec said - or earlier if the black boxes are found.