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Paris - Investigators have pulled data from both black boxes of an Air France jet which crashed in the Atlantic in 2009, and this should help explain what caused the disaster that killed all 228 people on board.
The French newspaper Le Figaro reported on its website that one black box had already yielded enough information to conclude that the crash was not caused by a fault in the Airbus aircraft. It did not explain how that conclusion was reached.
France's BEA air crash investigation agency said on Monday it had managed to transfer all the data stored in the recorders hauled up from the seabed two weeks ago, almost two years after the Airbus A330 vanished in a storm en route to Paris from Rio de Janeiro.
The transfer - carried out at the weekend and filmed in front of investigators from four countries and French judicial officials - is the most important breakthrough yet in efforts to find out what caused the crash.
The BEA brought forward its target date for publishing a new report on the crash by around six months and said it might be able to issue interim findings in the summer.
“The most interesting thing will be to find out what the crew were seeing and understanding and how they were reacting and managing their responses,” said Paul Hayes, safety director of UK-based aviation consultancy Ascend Aviation.
Le Figaro, citing government sources and sources close to the investigation, said the BEA would now focus on whether Air France or the crew bore any responsibility for the crash in light of the evidence suggesting the aircraft was not at fault.
It said the BEA would reveal new information about the role of Air France and the crew on Tuesday, possibly allowing a clear picture of the crash circumstances to emerge by the end of the week, though a definitive report would take months.
An Air France spokeswoman said: “We have no comment while the BEA continues to carry out its investigations.” Airbus and BEA were not immediately available to comment on the report.
Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris vanished over the Atlantic in a storm on June 1, 2009, triggering a hunt for the wreckage and the black boxes that might contain clues.
The recorders were hauled nearly 4km to the surface in early May after a search operation costing $50-million and shipped to Paris, where they arrived on Thursday.
At first it was unclear whether the data would be readable.
The successful data transfer includes all information from the flight data recorder, which monitors aircraft systems, and a loop containing the last two hours of cockpit voice recordings.
The operation took place after the memory cards and chips containing the recordings were dried out in carefully controlled conditions at BEA labs just outside Paris.
The data will now be analysed in detail, the BEA said.
“This work will take several weeks, after which a further interim report will be written and then published during the summer,” it said in a statement.
Investigators had earlier said any information gleaned from the black boxes would take months to process and that they did not expect to issue a report until early in 2012. - Reuters