Air France Flight 447 Search Extended

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After an unsuccessful search of a 770-square-mile area refined by ocean current and water data, French investigators said this week they will extend the hunt for submerged wreckage of Air France Flight 447. Only one of two ships sent to search the area will continue looking for the Airbus A330 that crashed last June while en route from Brazil to France, killing all 228 aboard. Airbus and Air France are applying 1.5 million euro to the effort, which should fund it through roughly May 25. The seabed in the search area ranges to 13,100 feet below the surface off Brazil's northeast coast. Nearly 1,000 pieces of wreckage have been recovered from the crash and while they have helped investigators gain an understanding of the jet's physical impact with the Atlantic, they have yielded no definitive information as to the cause of the crash. For that, investigators are still hoping to find the airliner's cockpit voice and flight data recorders. Investigators do, however, have some leads.

Other aircraft had avoided the storms that Air France 447 attempted to pass through when it crashed. Weather at the time of the accident as depicted by infrared images seven minutes before and after the last ACARS message sent by the aircraft shows "the general conditions and the position of Inter-tropical Convergence Zone over the Atlantic were normal for the month of June," according to investigators. But messages sent automatically by the Airbus A330 accident aircraft show the aircraft was providing unreliable or conflicting air data to the pilots. Investigators have publicly announced that experienced teams working in simulators struggled to maintain control of the aircraft at cruise in turbulence while working with faulty air data.