Parts of Rio-Paris jet wreckage found
Paris: French investigators said on Sunday they found parts of an Air France plane that crashed into the Atlantic while flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris in June 2009, and hoped to locate the black boxes.
The plane went down roughly midway between Brazil and Senegal on June 01, 2009, killing all 228 people on board, in the deadliest crash in Air France's history.
"During search operations in the sea carried out in the last 24 hours... the team on board the (expedition ship) Alucia located parts of a plane," France's Bureau of Investigation and Analysis (BEA) said in a statement.
"These elements were identified by BEA investigators as belonging to the wreckage of the A330-203 plane, flight AF 447" that crashed, the statement said.
BEA director Jean-Paul Troadec also said that investigators have hope of finding the plane's black boxes because the debris area was relatively concentrated.
"The favourable news is that the debris area is relatively concentrated. And this gives us hope of finding the black boxes," he said.
Troadec said the parts of the wreckage that had been found consisted of "engines and certain elements of the wings".
The BEA is to publish first pictures of the wreckage found in the Atlantic on Monday.
"The BEA will on Monday afternoon hold a press conference to show first pictures of the plane parts," a spokeswoman said.
The conference is to be held at 3:00 pm (1300 GMT) at BEA headquarters near Le Bourget airport, north of Paris.
A new search for the wreckage had been launched on March 25 with the help of the Alucia, an exploration vessel of the US-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute -- the fourth attempt to find the debris in hopes of discovering what caused the crash.
The official cause remains undetermined, but it has been partly blamed on malfunctioning speed sensors used by Airbus, with Air France accused of not responding quickly enough to reports that they might be faulty.
The Alucia came from Seattle on the northwest coast of the United States carrying three Remus submarines that were to search the ocean floor.
The submarines took pictures of the wreckage.
Air France and Airbus -- who are being probed for alleged manslaughter in connection with the crash -- are paying the estimated USD 12.7 million cost of the search.
Troadec had earlier said that the latest search would take a different approach, with investigators trying to simply find the wreckage rather than searching specifically for the flight recorders, or "black boxes".
The latest search also included a much larger area of a 46-mile (75-kilometre) radius around the last known position of Flight 447.
A third search of the ocean floor to try to locate the black boxes had ended in failure last May.
"The determination of location, a few days after the start of the fourth phase of the search at sea which is being financed by Air France and Airbus, is very good news," said Air France-KLM chief executive officer Pierre-Henri Gourgeon.
There is hope that enough information will come up to explain the cause of the crash, he added.
"There may now be answers to the questions asked by the families of the victims, our company since June 1, 2009... regarding the facts that led to this tragic accident," said Gourgeon.
The head of the French association representing the families of the victims, Jean-Baptiste Audousset, also spoke of "hope for the families", but warned the families would be cautious and were waiting for proof.
"It is key that the black boxes are found," a spokesman for Airbus said. "This is the only possible way to understand what led to the accident."