Publications Articles with Category: Air France 447 Search


The End of the Black Box: Rescuing Airplane Data From the Wreckage

June 16, 2011
Adler J, The End of the Black Box: Rescuing Airplane Data From the Wreckage, Wired Magazine, July 2011

The black boxes were sitting on the ocean floor in what would have been plain sight, if there were any light at a depth of 12,800 feet. They were guarded by silent corpses, the passengers and crew of an Airbus A330 that plummeted to the bottom of the Atlantic in June 2009. For nearly two years, the boxes—not black, actually, but bright orange—had lain amid some of the most rugged undersea terrain in the world, 11,500-foot mountains rising from the ocean floor, covered with landslides and steep scarps. Until the days in May when an advanced robotic submersible, the Remora 6000, brought the two black boxes from Air France flight 447 to the surface, they were among the world’s most sought-after artifacts, the keys to understanding why a state-of-the-art widebody jet fell out of the sky on a routine flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, killing all 228 aboard. Since no one knew the exact coordinates of the crash, the searchers had to extrapolate their grid from the plane’s last known location. It took a team led by the king of undersea searchers, Dave Gallo of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, to find the wreckage; Phoenix International, a deepwater recovery company, finally brought the recorders home. Why did it take so long? “You can find a needle in a haystack,” Gallo says, “but you have to find the haystack first.”