Search for Air France recorders likely to go on

SAO PAULO (AP) - Brazil called off the search for more bodies
and debris from the Air France jet that crashed into the Atlantic
Ocean but an American officer said the search for the black boxes
would likely continue for at least another 16 days.

Brazilian and French searchers have recovered large chunks of
debris and 51 bodies from Air France Flight 447, which disappeared
with 228 people on board late May 31.

Brazil's air force and navy on Friday ended their search for
more bodies or debris.

"The reason for this is the impossibility of finding survivors
or bodies, which has always been the main focus of our search
efforts," Brazilian Air Force Col. Henry Munhoz said at news
conference.

But Munhoz said the search for the black boxes would continue
"coordinated by France."

Experts say the black boxes may be key to deciding what brought
the airliner down. And signals from the voice and data recorders
begin to fade after about 30 days.

"We'll have a better idea July 1 on how much longer we'll go,"
said U.S. Air Force Col. Willie Berges, the Brazil-based commander
of the American military forces supporting the search.

Berges said searchers were likely to keep going 12 to 15 days
past the 30-day mark of the crash.

A French nuclear submarine and two French-contracted ships
towing U.S. Navy listening devices are trolling a search area with
a radius of 50 miles (80 kilometers) off Brazil's northeastern
coast where it is believed the plane crashed.

The black boxes send out an electronic tapping sound that can be
heard up to 1.25 miles (2 kilometers) away.

With the recorders still missing, accident investigators have
focused on automated messages sent by the plane minutes before it
lost contact.

One indicates the plane was receiving incorrect speed
information from external instruments, which could destabilize the
plane's control systems. Experts have suggested those external
instruments might have iced over.

Air France has now replaced the monitors, called Pitot tubes, on
all its Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft.

On Thursday, U.S. safety officials said they were investigating
two incidents in which airspeed and altitude indications in the
cockpits of A330 planes may have malfunctioned. The aircraft are
the same type as the Air France plane that crashed.
In both cases the planes landed safely, and no one was injured,
th
e National Transportation Safety Board said in a statement.


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