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Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-03-26

After two unsuccessful attempts, French authorities have resumed a search for the black box recorders of an Air France liner that crashed off the coast of Brazil last June, killing all 228 people on board. The cause of the accident is still unknown.

AFP - French authorities announced Thursday the resumption of a search for the black box recorders of an Air France jetliner that crashed off Brazil last June, killing all 228 people on board.

The director of France's Bureau of Investigations and Analyses, Jean-Paul Troadec, told a news conference that a new phase of the search would be launched on Sunday to try to establish the cause of the accident.

"I conveyed to Brazilian families in December our intention to resume the search. I have returned to Brazil to announce that it has been launched," Troadec said.

"Without the discovery of the wreckage and the flight recorders the causes of the accident cannot be known," he said.

The new operation follows two intensive but unsuccessful sweeps of the Atlantic Ocean in the months following the accident that turned up some debris but no sign of the flight data and cockpit recorders.

Since three months of searches last year by a French navy submarine and sonar-equipped ships that failed to locate the devices after the accident, an international team of researchers has pored over information on currents and underwater topography to try to narrow the area for a new attempt.

The recording devices are key to understanding what caused the disaster, which remains largely unexplained.

Relatives of those killed mostly blame the accident on malfunctioning airspeed sensors on the Airbus A330, based on a series of automatic alerts received from the doomed aircraft.

The renewed search involves a hundred-person team operating two ships, one American and the other Norwegian, packed with sophisticated equipment including sonars and underwater robots.

They are to plumb the depths of the ocean for at least four weeks, in the 2,000 square-kilometer (770-square-mile) zone narrowed down by researchers.

The crash of Air France flight AF447 was the worst in Air France's 75-year-history.

On June 1 the plane was flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris with passengers and crew of 32 nationalities, including 72 French citizens, 58 Brazilians and 26 Germans, when flight controllers lost contact with the aircraft.

A first, preliminary report was released in September, concluding that the Pitot airspeed sensors on the Airbus "were one of the factors that led to the accident, but were not the only ones."

Troadec said in December that a final, definitive report was due by the end of 2010 -- or earlier if the black boxes are found.

Date created : 2010-03-26

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