UPDATE: Underwater robots find airline wreckage, bodies

Undersea robots from Woods Hole try to address the mystery of what happened to Air France Flight 447

air france crash
The undersea robots scouring a 3,900 square mile search of Atlantic Ocean bottom have found bodies and a large portion of Air France Flight 447 which crashed off the coast of Brazil nearly two years ago.

The French investigation unit Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses (BEA) today showed undersea pictures of the wreckage including jet engines, the aircraft's wing, landing gear and windows.  According to a number of reports including this one from Sky.com: "Officials confirmed identifiable bodies had been found and will be raised to the ocean surface, but would not say how many there were. The recovery operation, which could begin in three weeks to a month, will be funded by the French government."

The original story: Robots dive deep underwater to solve airliner crash mystery

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)-led expedition has not yet found the black boxes from Air France Flight 447 which could go a long way towards solving the mystery of exactly why the plane crashed. In a press conference today investigators said they are "confident that engineers can still read the data and recordings in the black boxes - if they weren't damaged in the crash."

The Air France plane was flying from Rio de Jeneiro to Paris, when it crashed into the on June 1, 2009, taking with it 228 people.  Searchers have been unable to locate the aircraft in three attempts since then.

According to WHOI, the three REMUS 6000 autonomous undersea vehicles it is using in the search are designed to operate in depths up to 6,000 meters (19,685 feet or 3.73 miles). As each vehicle covers an area in a "mowing" pattern, it employs side-scan sonar to survey up to 600 meters to its left and right. Capable of staying underwater for up to 20 hours at a time, REMUS then returns to the ship, where scientists download its data. If the data contains evidence of any debris or other items of interest undersea, a REMUS 6000 will be dispatched to gather more detailed, up-close images using high-resolution cameras located on the bottom of the vehicle, the group stated.

BEA is updating its Website about the progress of the search.

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8  

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