BEA - Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la sécurité de l'aviation civile - Zone Sud - Bâtiment 153 - 200, rue de Paris - Aéroport du Bourget - 93352 Le Bourget Cedex - FRANCE - Téléphone 33 1 49 92 72 00 - Télécopie 33 1 49 92 72 03BEA - Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la sécurité de l'aviation civile - Zone Sud - Bâtiment 153 - 200, rue de Paris - Aéroport du Bourget - 93352 Le Bourget Cedex - FRANCE - Téléphone 33 1 49 92 72 00 - Télécopie 33 1 49 92 72 03

 

Flight AF 447 on 1st June 2009

A330-203, registered F-GZCP

 

Sea Search Operations
Phase 3 : 2 April - 24 May 2010

During the preparatory work (September 2009 – January 2010) analysis of the data from the previous phases and modelling of the structures of the sea currents made it possible to estimate the drift of the airplane debris between the date of the accident on 1st June, and the time of recovery from 6 June onwards (map).

This work led to a significant reduction in the area of the zone, which was thus reduced from almost 17,000 km2 to around 2,000 km2.

The zone is located around 1,100 km from the coast of Brazil on the Atlantic ridge with very rough terrain on the sea floor, which has variations in depth of between 700 and 4,600 metres.

 In February 2010, following an international call for tenders, the BEA chartered two ships and selected the most high technology equipment that could operate down to depths of 6,000 metres:

  • the American ship "Anne Candies" from Phoenix International with the following equipment:
    • an ORION deep towed sonar,
    • a CURV 21 remotely operated vehicle (ROV) belonging to the US Navy;
  • the Norwegian ship Seabed Worker from the Seabed company, with the following equipment:
    • three REMUS 6000 autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV)
    • two from the American Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution WHOI and belonging to the Waitts Institute for Discovery (WID)
    • one from the German (GEOMAR) oceanographic institute
  • one remotely operated vehicle (ROV)

Phase 3 – 1st period: from 2 to 25 April 2010

 

The ships left the port of Recife (Brazil) on 29 March and the sea searches took place from 2 to 25 April 2010, which was when the ships left the search zone. They arrived in the port of Recife on 28 April 2010 for a technical stopover.

At the end of this first period, an area of around 4,500 km2 had been explored without the airplane wreckage having been localised (map).

After reporting to Mr Dominique Bussereau, Secretary of State for Transport, on the sea searches, the BEA, at the Secretary's request, prepared a further stage in the operations with the support of Airbus and Air France. 

 

Phase 3 – 2nd period: from 3 to 24 May 2010

Since the US Navy ROV and sonar, installed on board the Anne Candies, were no longer available as a result of an American military operation, and the GEOMAR Remus had to participate in a scientific operation, the sea search operations continued with the Seabed Worker and the two Remus operated by WHOI.

The Seabed Worker left Recife on 30 April. The searches in the zone began on 3 May and were scheduled to explore:

  1. a zone adjacent to the initial zone and situated to the north-west of the last known airplane (map) position ("zone 1");
  2. an area already covered in the initial zone whose re-exploration appeared to be necessary due to very rough sea floor terrain ("zone 2");
  3. finally, the northern part of the rectangle defined by the scientific work ("zone 3").

On 6 May, the French Ministry of Defence provided information on the results of the analytical work carried out on the data recorded on 30 June and 1st July 2009 by the Émeraude nuclear submarine, during the first phase of the searches (map). The BEA thus decided to extend its searches: a zone was defined based on the French Navy's identification of acoustic signatures similar to those transmitted by an Underwater Locator Beacon (ULB) during post analysis of the data.

The Seabed Worker thus sailed to an area located south-west of the last known airplane position. It was explored from 7 to 12 May 2010 without any success in localising the airplane wreckage. After ensuring optimal coverage of the whole of the zone, the BEA decided to go back to the searches originally planned.

The Seabed Worker continued its searches in zones "1" and "2" from 13 to 24 May, which was when the ship left the zone to sail to the port of Praia (Cabo Verde).

During this second period, an area of almost 1,800 km² was explored, including the zone of around 300 km² defined on the basis of the data provided by the French Navy.

In total, an area of nearly 6,300 km2 was thus explored during the two periods of this search phase with a high degree of confidence, but without having been able to find the airplane wreckage (map).

The BEA is currently carrying out a review of the three undersea search phases that have been undertaken since the accident.

 

 

Press releases and information

 
français
anglais
• Press release, 12 February 2010
• Information, 11 March 2010
• Information, 15 March 2010
• Press release, 19 March 2010
• Information, 29 March 2010
• Ships arrival, 2 April 2010
• Update on sea searches on 7 April 2010
• Update on sea searches on 14 April 2010
• Update on sea searches on 22 April 2010
• Update on sea searches on 4 May 2010
• Press release, 6 May 2010
• Update on sea searches on 10 May 2010
• Update on sea searches on 12 May 2010
• Update on sea searches on 17 May 2010

 

Additional information

 
français
anglais
• Determination of the search zone, 17 February 2010
• Search zone determination
   - Working group report summary 30 June 2010
   - Working group report, 30 June 2010
• Press release from the Secrétariat d'État aux Transports, 12 July 2010

 

Videos

conférence de presse, Recife Press conference, Recife, Brazil, 25 March 2010, Mr. Jean-Paul Troadec's speech transcript
Ships departure Ships departure
First dives First dives
data anlysis Data analysis

 

This zone was determined in the first days after the accident based on the last known airplane position. A circle was drawn with a radius of 40 NM (about 72 km) representing the maximum distance that the airplane could have travelled from this last known position.

 

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Serious incident on 17 January 2011 to the Boeing 777 registered F-GSPM in cruise, over the Atlantic ocean. Final Report published in English on 16 July 2012.
Serious incident on 16 August 2008 on take-off from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (95) to the Boeing 737-800 registered SU-BPZ operated by AMC Airlines. Final Report published in English on 29 August 2011.
Accident on 1st June 2009 between Rio and Paris to the Airbus A330-203 registered F-GZCP, flight AF 447. Final Report, published on 5 July 2012.
 




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