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Paris: “There is no Doubt” that Debris Belongs to AF447; However, it is Difficult to Find Recor

By Dialogo
June 03, 2009

PARIS, 03 June 2009 (AFP) -The French Chief of Staff said on Wednesday that “there are no longer any doubts” that the debris found in the Atlantic is from the Air France plane that was flying with 228 people aboard, and while the searches have intensified, the French Authority in charge of the investigation was not very optimistic about the possibility of finding the black boxes. Chief of Staff spokesman Captain Christophe Prazuck affirmed that “even though we lack formal confirmation that some of the debris has been recovered and the fact that a technical analysis has not been performed yet, there still is no doubt” that the debris found is from the Air France Airbus 330 that was flying between Río and Paris. Early this Wednesday morning, Brazil, France, and the United States intensified their search operations. Three Hercules planes from the Brazilian Air Force, a French Falcon 50, and a U.S. Lockheed P-3 Orion took off from the base at Natal (in Rio Grande do Norte, in the Northeast). Paris has an AWACS radar plane scheduled for takeoff in order to perform a “mapping” of the debris from the A330, as well as new flights for the Atlantique 2, a maritime patrol plane, which, over the past few hours, has been flying over the area where the debris from the Air France plane was found. But this rescue operation, which recently started, does not ensure that investigators will be able to locate the black boxes, key pieces to speed up the investigation and which contain information about the trajectory, altitude, and velocity, as well as the conversations that took place in the plane’s cockpit. The task appears to be very complicated, as the area where the debris from the plane was found is up to 4,700 meters deep. The French BEA director, Paul Louis Arslanian, stated that “you can’t exclude the fact that they were never able to locate the flight recorders,” as he restated that the flight recorders, or black boxes, were undoubtedly located in a “deep and mountainous” location on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. In theory, the black boxes emit a signal for a month which allows them to be found in a location that is up to 6,000 meters deep. On Tuesday, Brazilian authorities indicated that the BAF planes had detected “a 5km strip of aircraft debris” at around 1,000 km off the coast of Brazil and that there was “no doubt” that this was debris from the Air France plane. Brazilian authorities are conducting search and salvage operations which would transport the bodies and fragments that were found to the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, the point of land closest to the location where the plane had gone down, at least 500 km from the continent. The Brazilian Minister of Defense, Nelson Jobim, stated that “a Navy patrol boat will arrive tomorrow” in order to “start the task of recovering the debris that has been sighted,” while another two Naval vessels are scheduled to arrive on Thursday and Friday. Commander Prazuck explained in Paris that Wednesday will be “a day of transition,” before explaining that “the operation will change over from an aerial operation that covers a very broad area to a naval operation which will cover a much narrower area.” The French Minister of Transportation announced the departure of the Deep-sea exploration submarine “Pourquoi pas” to take part in the operations. The plane had lost contact with land at 02H14 GMT on Monday after reporting electrical and pressurization failures, and French authorities have recognized that the possibility of recovering any survivors from the airplane, in an area with strong climatic instability, is very “slim.” There were 228 people onboard the AF 477 Río-Paris flight of 32 different nationalities, including 72 Frenchmen, 59 Brazilians, 26 Germans, 2 Spaniards, and 1 Argentinean. The investigation of the accident will be conducted by the Paris Prosecutor’s Office, which has legal jurisdiction since the majority of the victims reside in that city. France has already sent two investigators to Brazil. In light of the commotion caused by the tragic disappearance of the plane, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva declared three days of national mourning starting on Tuesday. On Wednesday at 4:00 PM local time (14H00 GMT) in Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy will attend an ecumenical ceremony at the cathedral of Notre Dame with the family members and relatives of the victims. Access will be restricted for the media. Family members and relatives of the passengers and crew members of the AF447 will continue receiving medical and psychological support at the Windsor Hotel at Barra da Tijuca, west of Río de Janeiro, where journalists’ access was prohibited. Isabelle Birem, the director of the airline in Brazil, stated that a team of 17 volunteers from Air France arrived to assist the families.
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