France Hunts Again For Vanished Rio-Paris Flight

by
aliciawesly2
(AP)

PARIS - The French government said Thursday it will conduct a fourth search for the flight recorders of an Air France jetliner that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean while flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris 18 months ago.

All 228 people aboard Flight 447 died, and families of some victims have demanded that France not give up the hunt for the flight recorders — and answers about what caused the plane to plunge into the ocean during a large thunderstorm on June 1, 2009.

Transport Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet and Junior Transport Minister Thierry Mariani said a fourth search would get under way in February. Their statement said the "best equipment currently available" will be used.

The initial search found 50 bodies and hundreds of pieces of the plane, including its torn-off tail. But the latest search, a euro13 million third effort, ended in May and did not find the "black box" voice and data recorders at the crash site, where the ocean is as deep as 4,000 meters (13,120 feet). Those items are critical to determine why the plane crashed.

Automatic messages sent by the plane's computers just before the crash show that the aircraft was receiving false air speed readings from sensors known as Pitot tubes. However, investigators have insisted that a series of failures, and not the Pitot tubes alone, likely caused the crash.

Frustrated families have sought access to all documents and data concerning the search, and the inclusion of international experts in the inquiry.

In Thursday's statement, Mariani noted his respect for the "principle of independence" of the investigation, but said nothing about it being enlarged to include non-French investigators.
AP