French investigators say they’ve found wreckage from an Air France jet that crashed off Brazil’s coast almost two years ago with 228 people onboard. An undetermined amount of bodies have been found. Whether they are recovered are not is the question to be dealt with by marine forensics ethical guidelines. Decisions are often based on culture as well as the feasibility of recovery. It will be interesting to see how this will be resolved. There were obviously passengers from at least two continents on board: Europe and South America. Moreover, they were found in an extremely deep part of the ocean where recovery may be very challenging considering the crash happened nearly 2 years ago.
This last recovery effort is the fourth attempt at locating the flight and data recorders. As of late Sunday, French officials would only reveal that the wreckage had been found in the past 24 hours.
Flight 447 had been flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris when it went down on June 1, 2009, in a thunderstorm. Parts of the plane have been recovered but not the wreckage containing the flight data recorder — or black box — with important technical and voice information.
Locating the main body of the plane has proven difficult because it crashed into deep waters, beyond the range of radar and sonar. To conduct the actual search, planes and ships rely on sonar signals from the black box. The search involves a 10,000-square kilometre area, several hundred kilometres off Brazil’s northeast coast.
The findings are crucial because a French judge recently handed down a decision allowing preliminary manslaughter charges against Airbus, which manufactured the plane. Airbus is the world’s largest airplane producer.
Some airplane experts have suspected the crash was caused by false air speed readings from the pitot tubes — sensors on the underbelly of the Airbus 330-200.
Air France CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon said his company had taken measures to fix faulty sensors. French investigators have also said it’s likely the crash was caused by not one but several factors.