Black boxes: Airbus "not at fault" over Air France 447 crash

By John Walton, May 17 2011
Black boxes: Airbus

The crash of the Air France 447 Airbus A330 flying Rio de Janeiro to Paris on 1 June 2009 was not the result of errors by aircraft maker Airbus, French air safety investigators have told the French media.

French newspaper Le Figaro has interviewed sources close to the investigation (article in French) who stated that the first extracts from the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder exonerate Airbus. A government source says that the two black boxes are "totally readable".

Investigators from the French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA) safety regulator were able to read information from both the black boxes over the weekend. 

The recorded flight information enabled the investigators to quickly conclude that the A330 was not at fault.

That leaves mistakes by Air France or the crew as the remaining possible reasons for the crash, and Le Figaro's sources say that the BEA will release further information on Tuesday in France (late night Tuesday and early Wednesday, Australian time).

An Air France spokesperson refused to comment, "since the BEA has not completed all the necessary checks". Airbus has also refused to make any statement.

The investigation has proceeded at a remarkable pace since the remains of Air France 447 were found six weeks ago.

"Everything that has happened since the discovery of the wreckage: finding the black boxes, raising them and the fact that they're still totally readable after spending two years at 4000 metres of depth, is totally extraordinary," a French government source said.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

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