Air France experts dismiss human error report

Investigators analysing data from flight 447 say cause of crash still unknown, after paper clears Airbus of blame.

    The black boxes were retrieved from four kilometres under the sea, nearly two years after the crash [Reuters]

    French accident investigators have criticised a newspaper for reporting that flight recorders from the fatal 2009 Air France crash showed human error was to blame.

    Le Figaro, a French daily, said one of the so-called black boxes had already yielded enough information to conclude that the crash was not caused by a fault in the Airbus aircraft, but did not explain how the conclusion was reached.

    The BEA air accident investigation agency said on Tuesday that it was too early to draw any conclusions on what caused flight 447 to crash over the Atlantic after departing Rio de Janeiro in Brazil for Paris, killing all 228 people on board.

    The agency, which managed to transfer all the data stored in the recorders hauled up from the seabed two weeks ago, said it was confident that the cause of the crash would be found.

    BEA said the retrieval of data from the black boxes "make us almost entirely certain today that all light will be shed on this accident".

    The transfer, which was 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.

    Experts say it will take several weeks to analyse the data, with a report expected to be issued in the summer.

    "This work will take several weeks, after which a further interim report will be written and then published during the summer," the BEA said.

    Le Figaro, in a report on its website, had said the BEA would focus on whether Air France or the crew bore any responsibility for the crash in light of alleged 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.

    Airbus told airlines on Tuesday that it had no new safety recommendations as a result of the first examination of the flight data recorder, the Reuters news agency reported.

    Such industry-wide statements are usually only able to be issued with the approval of official crash investigators, it added.

    "At this stage of the preliminary analysis of the DFDR [digital flight data recorder], Airbus has no immediate
    recommendation to raise to operators," the European planemaker said in an industry bulletin.

    Meanwhile, forensics experts from France's police force are examining tissue samples from two bodies that were raised from the plane's site earlier this month.

    Nearly 60 bodies were recovered two years ago, shortly after the accident, but experts need to determine whether the DNA from the two bodies retrieved is still intact before they make a decision about the other remains.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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