Brazil and France Continue Huge Search Operation for AF447 Remains

By Dialogo
June 09, 2009

RECIFE, June 8, 2009 (AFP) - A huge operation that includes aircraft and ships from Brazil and France continued searching for the bodies of the Air France plane’s occupants that disappeared over the Atlantic a week ago with 228 people aboard, Aeronautics and the Brazilian Navy reported. Patrols covered approximately 10,000 square kilometers in the Atlantic Ocean. On land, a huge contingent worked tirelessly to coordinate the data collected during reconnaissance flights, search planning, and the recovery of aircraft fragments. This is a summary of the methods employed in the operation: BY AIR - 12 Brazilian Aircrafts: Three Hercules aircrafts from the Brazilian Air Force (FAB), four Bandeirante aircrafts (two for maritime patrol, one for reconnaissance, and another as personnel carrier), two Amazon planes and an R-99 (equipped with radar and infrared equipment). Also, a Black Hawk helicopter and a Super Puma, both from the FAB. In total, more than 150 people are operating these aircrafts. - Two aircrafts from the French Air Force: a Falcon 50 operating from Brazilian bases, and an Breguet-Atlantique aircraft from Senegal are also involved in the searches. BY SEA - Five ships from the Brazilian Navy: The patrol ship "Guaiba" (29 men), the "Constitucao” and “Bosisio” frigates (209 and 239 men, respectively), the "Caboclo” sloop (64 sailors) and the ship-tank “Gastón Motta " (capable of carrying 600 tons of fuel; 121 men). - A French Navy ship, the frigate “Ventôse.” France has already announced the dispatch of a nuclear-powered submarine, the “Emeraude," to help search the area. BASES OF OPERATIONS AND LOGISTICS - Main Control Center: CINDACTA III (Third Integrated Center of Air Defense and Air Traffic Control), in the town of Recife, Pernambuco (northeast). A “Crisis Room” was created to control the joint operations of the Navy and Air Force. It centralizes all available information. - Secondary Center (used for search aircraft takeoffs): Air Base of Natal (Rio Grande do Norte). - Auxiliary Center: An airport in Fernando de Noronha Island (the main island of the archipelago of the same name, about 350 kilometers from the Brazilian coast). The airport received personnel reinforcements and various refrigeration equipment, including one for body storage. - The Legal Medical Institute of Recife (coroner) has prepared a special team to receive the victims’ bodies. The magnitude of the staff involved will depend on the number of bodies. Eventually, the units could be used at the Military Hospital in Recife. - The Federal Police in Recife sent a team of expert jurists and fingerprint clerks to Fernando de Noronha for early identification efforts. ATTENTION TO FAMILIES - Family assistance for relatives in Brazil is headquartered in a hotel in the area west of Rio de Janeiro, with a team that includes physicians, psychologists, lawyers, and a priest. A team of volunteers specially trained by the French Air France landed last week to help the families.