Investigators Find Air France Jet's Black Box

May 1, 2011 - via Wall Street Journal

Investigators combing the wreckage of an Air France jetliner that crashed almost two years ago said Sunday they had located and retrieved the plane's data recorder from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean.

Since the Airbus A330 jetliner disappeared en route from Rio de Janiero to Paris on June 1, 2009, killing all 228 people onboard, their families and industry officials have wanted to ascertain what caused the crash. Air France flight 447 was flying through heavy thunderstorms and experienced some malfunctions with airspeed sensors, according to automated maintenance data that was transmitted by the plane soon before it went down. But the problems identified so far weren't sufficiently grave to cause a crash.

Now, investigators will attempt to extract data from the digital recorder that could shed light on what the pilots and the plane did in their final moments. It remains unclear, however, whether the data files are intact after such a long time.

A photograph of the orange cylinder, produced by Honeywell International, suggested the device survived the crash intact, although it was ripped from its housing. Still, almost two years in ocean water under enormous pressure may have damaged the equipment.

The wreckage was located on April 3, in the fourth search for the plane. A ship that specializes in laying undersea cables is now above the crash site, from which investigators are operating a remote undersea vehicle that can film and help retrieve items.

Other data recorders onboard the plane, including the cockpit voice recorder, haven't yet been located in the continuing search.

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Author:Daniel Michaels