Posted: Jun 15, 2011 9:46 AM by Lauren Wilson & AP
PARIS (AP) - Relatives of the victims of a crashed Air France flight met with investigators Wednesday to work out what will happen to the victims' remains, retrieved from the Atlantic Ocean floor two years after the crash.
All 228 people died when Air France Flight 447 dived into the sea in 2009, and investigators are still trying to determine what went wrong. In a long-awaited discovery, underwater robots located the plane's black box flight recorders and several bodies in April.
The remains still must be identified, likely via DNA testing. A ship carrying the bodies and aircraft parts is scheduled to arrive in the French port of Bayonne on Thursday.
Representatives from Brazilian, French, Italian and German associations of victims' families sat down with investigators from France's accident investigation bureau BEA Wednesday to review the latest information on the crash.
"We're seeking the truth. We lost relatives and we need to take advantage of this to make aviation safer so other families don't have to suffer what we're suffering," Nelson Marinho, president of Brazil's association of victims' families, told The Associated Press ahead of the meeting.
"This meeting is only to deal with the delivery of the bodies to their respective families," he said.
Marinho said he hoped the French investigators would work with Brazilian federal police to compare data to make the identification quicker and easier.
Based on initial information from the flight recorders, investigators say the pilots, confronted with faulty instrument readings and alarms going off in the cockpit, struggled to tame the aircraft as it went into an aerodynamic stall, rolled, and finally plunged 38,000 feet in just 3 1/2 minutes.
A brief, highly technical report released by the BEA last month contains only selective remarks from the cockpit recorder, offers no analysis and assigns no blame. A fuller report is expected in July.
The plane's external speed sensors, called Pitot tubes, have long been considered a likely culprit in the disaster, with experts suggesting they may have been iced over. The BEA investigators also found that two sets of instruments on the plane gave different speed readings.
Since the accident, Air France has replaced the speed monitors on all its Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft.