Air France 447 Debris Found; No Black Boxes Yet

News reports today such as this one at Bloomberg News indicates that wreckage from Air France Flight 447 that crashed in 2009 has been discovered. This is the fourth attempt to locate the final resting spot of the crash site and recover its black boxes

This latest attempt just began a few days ago, and involves the use of robotic submarines (Remus 6000s) from at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

According to this story at Times Live, French Transport Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet is quoted as saying that:

"This is a large part of the plane, in one piece."

A few weeks ago, Air France and Airbus were charged in France with manslaughter in regard to the crash. Both companies say that without the information from the aircraft's black boxes being available for their defense, that it is an unfair charge.

Update 05 April 2011:

News stories like this one at the New York Times are now reporting that large amounts of wreckage as well as bodies of passengers on AF 447 have been found, but still no black boxes as of yet.  The Times story says that previous searches had recovered 50 bodies - 45 passengers and 5 of the crew including the plane's captain. It will take at least a month before the newly found remains and wreckage are recovered.

The majority of the wreckage seems to be in a debris field measuring approximately 600 meters by 200 meters, and was located very close to the last known location of the aircraft. Questions are being raised by the families of the survivors as to why this area was not thoroughly searched before, the Times article says.

The article noted that:

"Previous search efforts had scoured a vast, 2,800-square-mile section of seabed to the northwest of the plane’s last known location. That search area was defined by accident investigators using computer models of the currents and wind direction in the days after the crash."

No doubt these models will be reviewed in light of the discovery of the wreckage.


Risk Factor

IEEE Spectrum's risk analysis blog, featuring daily news, updates and analysis on computing and IT projects, software and systems failures, successes and innovations, security threats, and more.

Robert Charette
Spotsylvania, Va.
Willie D. Jones
New York City