Air France 447 Hit Belly First: Investigators
Investigators said Thursday that Air France 447 apparently didn't break up in flight but fell belly first into the equatorial Atlantic early on the morning of June 1. Thus far, 51 bodies of the 228 people aboard the Airbus 330 have been recovered and the search for additional victims ended last Friday. The search for the aircraft's flight data and cockpit voice recorders continues, but it too is expected to be suspended on July 10. “The plane was not destroyed while it was in flight,” Alain Bouillard, the chief of the investigation told reporters. “It seems to have hit the surface of the water in level attitude and with a strong vertical acceleration.”
Investigators have found more than 600 bits of debris and structural components along with luggage. The wreckage is believed to be in about 15,000 feet of water in an area northeast of the coast of Brazil. The flight recorders are supposed to automatically ping acoustic signals for at least 30 days. Bouillard said investigators will continue to listen for another 10 days.
BEA Interim Report (PDF)