Page last updated at 05:08 GMT, Sunday, 13 December 2009

France to resume 'black box' hunt

Brazilian military personnel retrieve part of the Air France plane from the Atlantic Ocean (file pic: 08 June 2009)
The third search for the black boxes will begin in February next year

French accident investigators say they will begin a third search for the black boxes of an Air France plane that crashed off the coast of Brazil.

The Airbus A330 crashed in a storm en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on 1 June, killing all 228 people on board.

The head of the French investigation agency, Jean-Paul Troadec, announced the move in Rio de Janeiro after meeting relatives of the dead.

The search of the Atlantic Ocean is not due to begin until February 2010.

The cause of the accident is still unknown although investigators believe the plane's speed sensors had been "a factor" involved in the crash.

Mr Troadec was in Brazil to brief relatives about the current stage of the investigation before a new report into the crash is published in Paris next week.

"We tried to convince the families that we are conducting the investigation with the full intention of getting to the truth," he said.

Airbus A330-200 believed to be the crashed plane (archive image from Air Team Images

He said a number of experts - including some from the US Navy and National Transportation Safety Board - would assist in the new search for cockpit audio and data recorders.

Private contractors will also be hired to help.

He said the searches would take place over a three-month span about 1,000km (600 miles) off Brazil's north-east coast.

Investigators will use sonar and robot submarines. However, they say the search will be challenging as ocean depths where the plane went down reach about 7,000m (22,950ft).

Maarten Van Sluys, one of the relatives that Mr Troadec met, said the renewed search was welcome but it was important to remember that 178 bodies had yet to be recovered.

He said: "We have expectations of recovering these remains and giving them a dignified burial."

Mr Troadec said the forthcoming report contained no surprises but would highlight new details, "notably in terms of safety recommendations".

The crash was the worst disaster in the 75-year history of Air France.

Flight of AF 447

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