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Articles focusing on searches by subs & towed ping locators

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Articles focusing on searches by subs & towed ping locat

Postby U-5075 » Wed Jun 10, 2009 4:04 pm

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2009 ... clude=Juno

Includes map of area

Sub hunts for black boxes near Air France crash
RECIFE, Brazil (AP) — A French nuclear submarine reached the crash zone of Air France Flight 447 on Wednesday to join the search for the plane's black boxes, which may be the key to determining what brought the Airbus down in the sea off Brazil with 228 people on board.
The attack sub Emeraude plans to trawl 13 square miles (35 square kilometers) a day, using sonar to try to pick up the boxes' acoustic beacons or "pingers," French armed forces spokesman Christophe Prazuck said Wednesday.

It's a race against time, because the beacons will start to fade 30 days after the May 31 crash. If the boxes are spotted, the Emeraude will work with the mini-sub Nautile, which can descend to the ocean floor and was a key part of the search for the Titanic.

"There are big uncertainties about the accident site, the ocean floor is rugged ... so it's going to be very difficult," Prazuck told France-Info radio. "It's going to be very complicated and we're going to need a lot of luck" to find the black boxes.

The French submarines will be aided by two U.S. underwater audio devices capable of picking up signals even at a depth of 20,000 feet (6,100 meters).

U.S. Air Force Col. Willie Berges, commander of the American military forces supporting the search operation, said the first of two U.S. towed pinger locators is being loaded onto a search ship Wednesday in the northern city of Natal.
He said the Dutch ship contracted by French investigators will head out tomorrow and arrive in the search area by Sunday.

The listening devices will be slowly towed in a grid pattern while a 10-person team aboard the vessel watches monitors receiving signals from the locators.

Berges said the second ship is expected to arrive at the port city this weekend.

The French magazine L'Express reported Wednesday that French intelligence services had matched the names of two passengers on board Flight 447 with those of suspects linked to Islamic terrorism. But it noted that the passengers' birthdates were not available, and that it might only be a case of people with similar names. The names themselves weren't reported.

A senior judicial official in France, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said he had received no information to back up the claim. French police and British intelligence officials would not comment on the report.

A spokesman for Brazil's intelligence agency said Wednesday he had no information about any terrorist connectons to Flight 447. He also spoke on condition of anonymity, per department rules.

Brazil's federal police are examining video footage at the boarding gate to help identify the passengers, according to an agency spokeswoman who insisted on anonymity because she was not authorized to discuss the matter. She said the action was meant to help identify remains, not to pursue any suspicions of terrorism.

A total of 41 bodies have been recovered so far from the scene of the crash, about 400 miles (640 kilometers) northeast of the Fernando de Noronha islands off Brazil's northern coast. The remains are being flown daily to Recife, where investigators hope to identify them and uncover clues into the crash based on the victims' injuries.

Prazuck told Associated Press Television News that a French frigate, the Ventose, had already gathered 130 pieces of debris, big and small. The debris was being cleaned of salt and was to be taken to an undisclosed location for further analysis, he said.

Without key information from the Airbus A330's missing data recorders, investigators have focused on the possibility that external speed monitors — Pitot tubes — iced over and gave false readings to the plane's computers as it flew into thunderstorms.

Airlines around the world have begun replacing Pitot tubes on their aircraft. And the European Aviation Safety Agency, responsible for the certification of Airbus planes, said it was "analyzing data with a view to issuing mandatory corrective action" following reports about the possible malfunctioning of the Pitot tubes. But it also said the A330 and other Airbus aircraft are safe to operate.

The Pitot monitors had not yet been replaced on the A330 that was destroyed en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

The agency issued a precautionary bulletin Tuesday reminding operators of the correct procedure if speed indications are unreliable or missing.

"We are aware of issues with this in the past, but at no time were they classified as safety-critical," said Daniel Hoeltgen, the agency's spokesman.

An important part of the investigation relies on a burst of 24 automatic messages the plane sent during the last minutes of the flight. The signals showed the plane's autopilot was not on, officials said, but it was not clear if the autopilot had been switched off by the pilots or had stopped working due to conflicting airspeed readings.

The L-shaped metal Pitot tubes jut from the wing or fuselage of a plane, and are usually heated to prevent icing. The pressure of air entering the tubes lets internal sensors measure the speed and angle of flight. A malfunctioning tube could mislead computers controlling the plane to dangerously accelerate or decelerate.

Air France said it began replacing the tubes on its A330 and A340 jets in May after pilots reported several incidents of icing leading to a loss of airspeed data, and that it had already replaced the Pitots in smaller A320 jets after similar problems were reported.

"What we know is that other planes that have experienced incorrect airspeed indications have had the same Pitots. And airplanes with the new Pitot tubes have never had such problems," said Air France pilot Eric Derivry, a spokesman for the SNPL pilots union.

On Tuesday, the airline assured its pilots that none of its A330s or A340s would fly without at least two of the new instruments, and that all Air France A330s and A340s will have all three Pitots replaced by July. Brazil's air force said it is replacing them for the president's jet.

About 70 airlines operate some 600 A330 planes similar to the doomed Air France jet, and the Pitots being replaced are made by France's Thales Group.

From Germany, more confirmation came Wednesday about rough weather over the Atlantic along the same route as the Air France crash. Lufthansa confirmed a report in Stern magazine that a passenger was injured when a Sao Paulo-to-Frankfurt flight hit turbulence off the Brazilian coast two days before the Air France crash.

"One can generally expect turbulence on this route," Lufthansa spokesman Michael Lamberty said Wednesday.

In an apparently unrelated incident, a smaller model Airbus A320 experienced undisclosed engine trouble shortly after taking off Wednesday from the Canary Islands and was forced to make an emergency landing, Spain's national airport authority AENA said.

The Spanish Iberworld airliner was headed from Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria to Oslo, AENA spokeswoman Karen Martel said from the island. No one was hurt and the plane was in the air about 10 minutes, she told The Associated Press.

The passengers were taken off the plane and the company planned to put them on a different one bound for Oslo at midday, Martel said.



http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid= ... 5r3f4cvLuU

Crash Investigation Models Suggest Black Boxes Beneath Debris



http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/art ... AD98LFIC00

US Navy sending locators to French for plane crash
By LOLITA C. BALDOR – 3 days ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Navy is sending two high-tech devices to French ships that will help them locate the black box flight recorders for the Air France plane that crashed nearly a week ago in the Atlantic Ocean.

A senior defense official said the Towed Pinger Locators, which can detect emergency beacons to a depth of 20,000 feet, are being flown to Brazil Monday with a U.S. Navy team. The team, which includes Navy personnel and some contractors, will deliver the locators to two French tugs that will use them to listen for transmissions from the black box.

The official requested anonymity because the decision, which came in response to a request from France, has not been announced. The U.S. Navy owns two of the locators, which are five feet long and five inches in diameter and are towed behind vessels at slow speed.
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Postby U-5075 » Mon Jun 22, 2009 1:11 pm

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid= ... zBUIErfOFU

Tug Boats Troll Air France Wreckage as Black Box Deadline Looms


By Gregory Viscusi
June 16 (Bloomberg) -- A French nuclear attack submarine and two Dutch tug boats with U.S. Navy listening devices are trolling the Atlantic as the effort intensifies to locate flight recorders from the Air France jet that crashed this month.

While the “black box” recorders emit a signal that travels 3 kilometers (1.8 miles), the batteries last only a month, so searchers have two weeks left. They have to find signals from the wreckage of the Airbus 330 before two French mini-submarines descend from the oceanographic research ship Pourquoi Pas? to pinpoint the boxes’ exact location.

“The key is an immediate response,” said Tim Janaitis, director of business development at Largo, Maryland-based Phoenix International Holdings Inc., which is contracted by the U.S. Navy for deep water searches. “You don’t have much time and it’s incumbent to get the material out there as quickly as you can.”

Finding the flight recorders may be essential to explaining why Air France Flight 447 crashed in the early hours of June 1 as it flew into stormy weather over the Atlantic en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. Moments before losing contact, the plane sent automatic messages indicating that its speed sensors were malfunctioning. The recorders may show if the flawed measurements misled the pilots into flying at the wrong speed.

Pinger Locators

The SNA Emeraude, a French nuclear attack submarine equipped with advanced sonar systems, arrived in the presumed crash zone June 10. Each day it covers an area about 36 square kilometers, said Christophe Prazuck, a spokesman for the French military. Debris and bodies from the plane have been found up to 120 kilometers apart.

The Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses, the French agency that investigates crashes, hired two tugs from Rotterdam, Netherlands-based Fairmount Marine BV.

The boats met up in Natal, Brazil, with a 19-person team sent by Phoenix, bringing with them two so-called towed pinger locators. They boarded the tugs June 10 and began trolling the area this weekend, said Patricia Dolan, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy.

Each of the boats, traveling at no more than 9 kilometers an hour, trails behind it a 1.5-meter long, torpedo-shaped locator owned by the U.S. Navy and operated by Phoenix. The locators can descend as deep as 6,000 meters, though they usually are kept about 1,000 meters above the ocean floor.

The water’s depth in the area ranges from 1,000 to 3,000 meters, according to the French agency that is leading the investigation into the crash.

French frigate Ventose, amphibious assault ship BPC Mistral and several Brazilian Navy ships are also in the area to collect debris and bodies. They’ve recovered 50 bodies and hundreds of pieces of the plane, which had 228 passengers and crew on board.

Phoenix, the U.S. Navy’s prime contractor for deep water searches, in March recovered parts of a B-52 bomber that went down in 3,500 meters of water off Guam. Last year it found the black box from a Boeing 737-400 Indonesian Adam Air Flight that went down in 1,650 meters of water off Java.

“It’s a very rugged and mountainous zone,” said Prazuck, the French military spokesman. “It’s a slow and difficult job.”
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Postby U-5075 » Tue Jun 23, 2009 6:29 pm

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/ar ... JeLTIZdJ5w

Sub follows signal from Air France black boxes
14 hours ago

PARIS (AFP) — A French miniature submarine has been launched after a "very weak" signal was detected from the flight recorders of the Air France jetliner that crashed in the Atlantic, Le Monde reported.

But the French bureau investigating the crash said the black boxes of Flight 447 had not been found and that research teams "check out any sound" that might lead to them.

The Nautile submersible set out on Monday after French navy vessels detected a "very weak signal" several hundred kilometres off the coast of Brazil, Le Monde reported on its website.

Owned by Ifremer, the French oceans research institute, the Nautile is capable of operating at a depth of six kilometres (3.7 miles) and was used by teams who located the Titanic.

"No flight recorders have been located to this day," said a spokeswoman for the BEA aviation investigating bureau.

The homing beacons on the devices will only operate for around another week.

"I have no confirmation for the time being" that the flight-data recorders have been found, said Captain Christophe Prazuck, spokesman for the army general staff.

The Air France Airbus A330 carrying 228 people from Rio de Janeiro to Paris came down in the Atlantic on June 1. The cause of the disaster has not been established.

Fifty bodies have been recovered from the crash zone, along with hundreds of pieces of the plane.



Video news of

AF447 crash: very weak black-box signals


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nftk2Djf ... feature=iv
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Postby U-5075 » Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:23 am

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/24/world ... f=americas

Setback in Search for Missing Jet’s Flight Recorder
By NICOLA CLARK
Published: June 23, 2009
PARIS — Search teams have detected a faint signal in the area where an Air France jet crashed in the Atlantic Ocean, but French officials said Tuesday that investigators were holding out little hope that it was coming from the aircraft’s flight data recorder.

The Airbus A330 went down more than 600 miles off the coast of northern Brazil on June 1 during a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, killing all 228 passengers and crew.

“We have not located the recorders,” said Martine Del Bono, a spokeswoman for the Office of Investigations and Analyses. She said that sounds had been detected several days ago by a submarine searching the area, but that it was not yet possible to confirm their source.

“They are hearing a lot of sounds,” Ms. Del Bono said. “We cannot confirm that it is from the black box.”

In a statement, the French agency said that its investigators were working to eliminate “any doubts related to any sounds that may be heard.”

Christophe Prazuck, a spokesman for the French military, said in an interview that a French boat, the Pourquoi Pas, was continuing to trawl the area where the signal was last detected on Monday, but confessed that the sound was “very fleeting.”

“We continue to analyze the signal, but with little hope that it is from the recorders,” Mr. Prazuck said.

Four other French boats as well as a nuclear submarine have now been dispatched to other areas of the search zone, which spans a radius of 80 kilometers from the point where radio contact with the plane was lost.

“If we stop searching elsewhere, we may run out of time,” Mr. Prazuck said.

Hopes that the flight recorder had been found were raised when the French daily Le Monde reported on its Web site Tuesday that French naval vessels had picked up a weak signal from it and that a mini-submarine had been dispatched on Monday to try to find the black box on the bottom of the ocean floor.

The Brazilian and French recovery teams are continuing to search around the clock for the recorder, which contains data on the plane’s altitude, airspeed and heading and voice recordings from the cockpit. The search for the black box, which is actually bright orange and about the size of a loaf of bread, gains urgency with each passing day because the pingers are designed to emit a signal for only around 30 days. Once that deadline passes, the chances of finding the black box drop considerably, investigators have said.

The pingers have a very specific audio “signature,” emitting an electronic impulse in every direction, once per second. At 37.5 kilohertz, the ultrasonic signal is too high-pitched for the human ear to hear, but is distinct from the sounds produced by waves or underwater wildlife. It can be heard by specialized underwater microphones for a radius of up to 1.2 miles. But rough seas and variations in the salt content of the sea water can mask or distort the sound. The ocean floor near the presumed crash zone is also extremely rugged, meaning that the black box could lie up to two and a half miles below the surface.

The investigators have also cautioned that even if one or both of the pingers are found, it is still possible that they may have become separated from the black box on impact with the water.

Searchers have recovered 49 bodies so far and more than 400 pieces of debris.



http://www.cctv.com/program/worldwidewa ... 2229.shtml

Article includes five photos including photo number four:

"An image provided by the U.S. Navy shows the piece of equipment that
is used to find crashed planes' black boxes underwater. A U.S. Navy
team was scheduled to arrive in Brazil Monday June 8, 2009, with the
high-tech underwater listening device, called the Pinger Locator System.
The sensitive, underwater microphone is towed behind a ship to listen
for the sound emitted from a plane's flight data and cockpit voice
recorders.(US Navy/AP Photo )"
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Subs to (physically) resume search for Brazil flight boxes

Postby U-5075 » Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:52 pm

Good luck. It's a big and deep ocean.

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1 ... 784C628666

Subs to resume search for Brazil flight boxes
July 15 2009 at 07:50PM

Paris - French submarines will next week resume the search for the flight recorders of the Air France flight that crashed into the Atlantic ocean last month, investigators said on Wednesday.

Search teams deployed after the June 1 crash of Flight AF 447 stopped monitoring on Saturday for the remote signals of the so-called "black boxes," which are designed to emit for at least 30 days.

Starting next week, French submarines will attempt to physically track down the devices, in a second search phase lasting around a month, said a statement from the French bureau leading the crash investigation, the BEA.

The marine research ship the "Pourquoi Pas" and its dozen crew will use two diving vessels, a mini-submarine and a robot craft to hunt for the recorders, which are clad in orange metal casing to protect and make them visible.

One of the devices records flight data while the other captures the voices of the crew and other sounds in the cockpit.

The Airbus 330 crashed in a storm on its way from Rio de Janeiro to Paris with the loss of all 228 people on board, scattering debris and likely plunging the two recorders as deep as 3 500m under water.

Brazil's military called off the search for bodies and debris from the Air France jet, flight AF447, late last month.

Hundreds of pieces of debris from Air France Flight 447 -- from lifejackets to sections of flooring and including its entire tailfin -- arrived in southern France late Tuesday to be analysed in a defence ministry laboratory.

The 640 fragments recovered from the A330 were unloaded in the southwestern port of Pauillac, before being transferred by barge and truck to the CEAT laboratory in Toulouse.

Analysis of the debris will continue at the aeronautical lab under the supervision of the BEA and French air transport gendarmes.

The plane fragments were ferried from Recife in Brazil in containers on a cargo ship, the Ville de Bordeaux, normally used by Airbus to carry parts of the A380 superjumbo for assembly.

The BEA said in a report early this month, based on an initial study of the debris, that the plane was intact when it hit the ocean, but that the cause of the crash was still unknown.
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