By: Keith Campbell
3rd May 2011
The French air accident investigation agency, the Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses (BEA), announced on Tuesday the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) of crashed Air France Airbus A330-200 F-GZCP had been found on Monday and recovered from the South Atlantic sea bed early Tuesday morning.
This follows the location and recovery of the Crash Survivable Memory Unit (CSMU) of the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) on Sunday. The CSMU had become detached from the FDR chassis as a result of the crash, the chassis itself being found during the very first salvage dive to the wreck last week.
The recorders – popularly known as the Black Boxes, although they are actually orange in colour – have been recovered by a Remora 6000 remotely operated vehicle (ROV) owned and operated by the American company Phoenix International. The company has committed nine ROV operators and technicians to the operation.
The mother ship for the operation is the cable ship Ile de Sein, which belongs to Alcatel-Lucent. The ship and ROV have been contracted by the BEA to salvage wreckage and bodies from the crash site. The wreckage lies on an abyssal plain at a depth of about 3 900 m.
At the request of the BEA, the French Navy has despatched a patrol ship to rendezvous with the Ile de Sein and take the two Black Boxes to Cayenne in French Guiana, from where they will be flown to the BEA analysis facility at Le Bourget airport in Paris.
The CVR and CSMU/FDR will be accompanied on this journey by the BEA Investigator in Chief, an officer of the French Judicial Police (the detective arm of the National Police), and an investigator from the Brazilian air accident investigation agency, the Centro de Investigação e Prevenção de Acidentes Aeronáuticos. It is expected that it will take ten days for the Black Boxes to arrive at Le Bourget.
An officer from the Brazilian Navy joined the Ile de Sein on Friday (April 29), taking the total complement involved in the salvage operation to 69, including the ROV team and ship’s crew.
F-GZCP crashed into the South Atlantic in the early morning of June 1, 2009. The aircraft was operating flight AF447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, and 228 people, including a South African, lost their lives.