'No black box signals from Flight 447'
French military ships searching for the black boxes of Flight 447 have detected sounds in the Atlantic depths but they are not from the Air France plane's flight recorders, French officials said.world Updated: Jun 23, 2009 20:39 IST
French military ships searching for the black boxes of Flight 447 have detected sounds in the Atlantic depths but they are not from the Air France plane's flight recorders, French officials said on Tuesday.
The officials and French investigators denied a report on the Web site of the French newspaper Le Monde that French ships had picked up a signal from the black boxes.
The two recorders, key to helping determine what happened to the plane that plunged into the ocean May 31, will only continue to emit signals for another eight days or so.
French vessels in the search area have picked up noises regularly, but subsequent investigation has revealed no link to the black boxes, French military spokesman Christophe Prazuck told Associated Press Television News.
"The black boxes have not been found. The black boxes have not been located. We're still looking for the black boxes," Prazuck said in English.
"Regularly they have alerts. They hear noises that could be related to the black boxes so they have to investigate these noises," he added, saying the French authorities "never" have had confirmation that any of the sounds detected were related to the black boxes.
A spokesman for the Brazilian navy had no comment on the Le Monde report, and referred all questions to French investigators. The Brazilian military has led the search and recovery efforts for bodies and debris, but the French are in charge of investigating the crash and the hunt for the black boxes.
The Airbus A330 plane came down in the Atlantic after running into thunderstorms en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. All 228 people aboard were killed. The cause of the crash remains unclear. The French air accident investigation agency, BEA, said in a statement Tuesday that "no signals transmitted by the flight recorders' locator beacons have been validated up to now." The BEA said work is continuing "aimed at eliminating any doubts related to any sounds that may be heard, and any findings will be made public."
Last week, BEA director Paul-Louis Arslanian sternly warned against any unconfirmed leaks in the investigation, saying they could mislead the public and unnecessarily worry or encourage the families.
Le Monde said a mini research submarine, the Nautile, dived Monday to search for the boxes based on a "very weak signal" from the flight recorders picked up by the French ships. Searchers from Brazil, France, the United States and other countries are methodically scanning the Atlantic for signs of the plane.
Two French-chartered ships are trolling a search area with a radius of 50 miles (80 kilometers), pulling US Navy underwater listening devices attached to 19,700 feet (6,000 meters) of cable. A French submarine is also searching.
"There is no news yet, no false reports came from us," said US Air Force Col. Willie Berges, the Brazil-based commander of the American military forces supporting the search. A 10-person team from the United States is on each of the ships pulling the locator devices, which continue to search.
The black boxes send out an electronic tapping sound that can be heard up to 1.25 miles (2 kilometers) away.
Eleven of 50 bodies recovered from the flight have been identified. The international police agency Interpol said on Tuesday they are eight Brazilians, one with joint Brazilian-German citizenship, one Brazilian-Swiss and a British national. Interpol said its specialists are working alongside Brazilian forensic examiners and that the DNA and other material from the bodies is being collated and compared to other data in a central Interpol database.
Dental records, fingerprints and DNA samples were used to identify the bodies. Investigators are reviewing all remains, debris and baggage at a base set up in Recife, Brazil.
First Published: Jun 23, 2009 20:33 IST