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A 14 year old girl survives the aircraft crash near Madagascar

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August 20, 2009

"The search has not been able to locate the wreck of the plane," -- France's air investigators, BEA.
French submarines have halted their search for the flight recorders of an Air France jet that crashed into the Atlantic on June 1, killing all 228 people aboard, investigators said on Thursday.

"The search has not been able to locate the wreck of the plane," France's BEA air investigators said in a statement.

However, the BEA indicated it had not lost all hope of finding the so-called black boxes and said a team of international experts would meet in the coming weeks to decide how best to continue the search process.

Despite the fact the flight recorders have not been found, investigators have stitched together information gleaned from a final burst of automated messages sent by the plane just before disaster struck, and from debris recovered in the sea.

The Air France plane was flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris when it crashed into the Atlantic Ocean not far from the equator after hitting a powerful storm.

The final messages showed sensors on the Airbus A330 were providing incoherent speed readings, sparking speculation that the pilots might have inadvertently stalled the jet.

Airbus has since urged clients to switch speed sensors on about 200 similar planes, replacing equipment made by Thales with parts supplied by Goodrich.

The plane plunged into a very remote part of the ocean and experts said the wreckage could have fallen to a depth of anywhere between 864 and 4,000 metres (2,835 and 13,120 feet), making any search extremely difficult.

Just as the hunt for the Air France wreck was wound down, French authorities announced that a boat with an underwater robot had arrived at the place where a Yemeni jet had crashed into the Indian Ocean on June 30, killing 152 people.

The French foreign ministry said the robot would be used to try to recover the black boxes of the Airbus A310-300 which crashed in bad weather off the Comoros archipelago.

A French submarine detected a signal from the plane's flight recorders in July and the underwater robot will now be used to try to locate the precise site and extract the recorders.

Officials say the cause of the crash remains unknown.

The plane was flying the final leg of a trip from France to Comoros, via Yemen. Only one person, a 14-year-old-girl, survived the crash.

Flight data recorder found Sat Aug 29

Investigators have retrieved the slightly damaged flight data recorder and 10 more bodies from a Yemenia Airways flight that crashed into the Indian Ocean on June 30, officials say.

The black box was found on Friday underwater off the coast of the island nation's capital, Moroni, according to the Comoros-based aviation investigation team. No details were provided about the other black box containing the voice recorder.

Interior Minister Bourhane Hamidou said the black box found on Friday is slightly damaged.

Red Cross co-ordinator Abdourhamane Bacari said 10 more bodies were found on the seafloor - in addition to the 27 bodies already recovered.

In July, a French naval ship detected signal beacons from the flight data and cockpit recorders - key to determining the cause of the crash - at depths of 3,900 feet (1,200 metres) about nine miles (15 kilometres) northwest of Grand Comoros island. However the ship lacked the deep sea diving equipment needed to retrieve them.

A French ship carrying a special underwater robot arrived at the site on August 20 to continue the search for the black boxes and other plane debris.

The robot is fitted with propellers and a mechanical arm that can retrieve debris from the ocean floor. It has a specially designed metal casing up to an inch thick that protects its electrical components at pressures as low as 19,700 feet (6,000 metres) underwater. The robot also has remote-controlled cameras and sonar.

An examination of the recovered flight data recorder should help resolve the dispute. Aviation experts from France, Yemen and Comoros are participating in the investigation.


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