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One year after crash, families pay tribute and await answers

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2010-06-01

The families of those killed in the Air France 447 crash on June 1, 2009, mark the first anniversary of the aviation tragedy as they continue to wait for a comprehensive report into what caused the Rio-Paris flight to dive into the ocean.

The families of the victims of the doomed, Paris-bound Air France 447 flight, which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean a year ago, are gathering Tuesday in the French capital to mark the anniversary in a private ceremony amid frustration over the lack of information on what caused the accident.

More than 1,000 people from 29 different countries, including about 970 family members of the deceased, are meeting at the Parc Floral in eastern Paris. An Air France spokesman told the AFP news agency that 80 percent of the victims will be represented at the ceremony, which would be off limits to the press.

After a lunch at the Parc Floral, a monument featuring 228 swallows, similar to one unveiled last year in Rio, will be inaugurated at the historic Père Lachaise cemetery in eastern Paris.

The 228 swallows represent the 216 passengers and 12 crew members who perished in the Paris-bound Air France flight, which took off from Rio de Janeiro on the night of June 1, 2009. The flight disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean. There were no survivors.

A few remnants of the airplane and around 50 bodies were eventually recovered. But despite three major search operations, the aircraft’s central cabin and its two black boxes, which contain the flight data and cockpit communication recordings, were never found.

Without the critical flight instruments, investigators have been unable to determine the cause of the accident. 

In an interview with CNN, Brazilian businessman Martin Van Sluys, who has travelled on the same Rio de Janeiro-Paris route on numerous occasions to meet with French officials, said he would not give up his fight for answers on what caused the crash.
 
"I keep thinking to myself as I travel in these planes, this could be me one day, this could be my son. There are so many planes flying around that could have the same problems," said Van Sluys, who acts as a spokesman for families of the crash victims.

The failure of airspeed sensors, called the Pitot, manufactured by the French defence group Thales, has been blamed for triggering the crash. But the French Bureau of Investigations and Analysis (BEA), which leads the AF 447 crash investigation, maintains that this failure in itself cannot explain the tragedy.

 

Date created : 2010-06-01

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