Underwater Robots Locate Air France Flight 447 Wreckage

On May 31, 2009 Air France flight 447 took off from Rio de Janeiro airport in Brazil headed for Paris, France. The Airbus A330 experienced electrical problems shortly following takeoff, and the aircraft’s airspeed was incorrectly reported. The aircraft was no longer registering on radar several hours later as it crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

According to ABC News, aquatic robots discovered pieces of the wreckage from Air France Flight 447. This latest expedition has been the fourth attempt to recover the flight data recorders. The Remus 6000 was used to survey the underwater area to locate the wreckage. These unmanned underwater vehicles can remain below the surface for up to 20 hours before returning to the launch ship for data download.

The announcement of the discovery came on Sunday by the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses, (BEA). So far, the underwater vehicles have captured photographs of the cabin, engines, and landing gear. In the coming weeks, accident investigators hope to have located the black boxes and have them brought to the surface with the other wreckage. With any luck, the black boxes will still be functional and will provide some insight into what caused the crash of Air France Flight 447.  Additionally, all of the passenger remains, and much of the wreckage, are anticipated to be brought to the surface as well. According to CNN, the area of the Atlantic Ocean where the accident occurred is about a two to four day trip by ship from the nearest ports. The ocean depth is approximately 9,840 feet (3000 meters) to 24,600 feet (7,500 meters) according to NOAA. The underwater terrain also includes a mountain range that makes it more difficult to search for wreckage due to crevasses. These geographic features have added to the time it has taken to locate the wreckage.

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