Guide to Air France 447: Facts, Rumors and Where Things Stand

What We Know for Sure and the Status of Theories About What Went Wrong
June 12, 2009

The key to understanding why the plane went down may never be found.

It's a major puzzle that will take months and months to piece together. It's a massive search effort in a remote location. Virtually no hypothesis or theory about what happened is off the table.

In this relatively early phase of the investigation into what happened on Air France Flight 447, here's a look at where things stand.

Where the Search Stands

Hunting for black boxes: T minus 18 days. The pinging sounds coming from the black boxes are estimated to last 30 days from the time of the crash, so the clock is ticking.

A French nuclear sub, the Emeraude, equipped with high-tech sonar equipment, is at the crash site listening for the acoustics coming from the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder.

Scheduled to arrive Friday is a French research vessel called the Pourquoi Pas, the only vessel in the French arsenal that carries underwater robots to retrieve the black boxes if their signals are detected. A U.S. Navy underwater listening device that can pick up the pinging sound from the black boxes at depths of 20,000 feet is also expected in the water Sunday.

Debris and remains: Crash remnants already pulled out of the Atlantic have been flown to the island of Fernando de Noronha, the closest land to the crash site, some 400 miles off Brazil's coast. The bodies recovered will be analyzed on the island, then transported to the mainland town of Recife this weekend for further identification and forensic exams.

Number of bodies recovered: 41

Major debris recovered: A large chunk of the stabilizer from the plane's tail, wiring, an airline seat, a boarding pass from the flight.

How long the search will last: At least until June 19, according to the Brazilian Air Force.

Ocean currents and wind now play a part in recovery efforts because the crash happened more than a week ago. The Brazilian Air Force is calculating that ocean currents are carrying bodies north. The U.S. Coast Guard is helping map the debris field and tracing backwards to help locate the crash location.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Let us pray to St. Anthony to help find the data recorder, debris, and bodily remains of the passengers. I am praying for the families who lost loved ones in this crash.