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Navy Concludes Assistance in Search of Air France Flight's Data Recorders

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS090717-18
Release Date: 7/17/2009 1:59:00 PM

From Naval Sea Systems Command Office of Corporate Communications

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- After searching more than 3,200 square nautical miles, the U.S. Navy concluded search operations July 13 for the cockpit voice and flight data recorders of Air France Flight 447.

Air France Flight 447 was a scheduled commercial flight from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to Paris that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean June 1.

"A 17-person team of military and contractor personnel and government assets arrived in Natal, Brazil, provided 26 days of international search and recovery operation support to locate the plane's voice and flight data recorders," said Capt. Patrick Keenan, U.S. Navy Director of Ocean Engineering, Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV).

"We arrived 72 hours after tasking by the secretary of defense in response to a request by the French government."

SUPSALV, a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command, provides technical, operational and emergency support to the Navy, Department of Defense and other federal agencies, in the ocean engineering disciplines of marine salvage, pollution abatement, diving, diving system certification and underwater ship husbandry.

The Navy used its two Towed Pinger Locators (TPL) to passively listen for the recorder's "pings." SUPSALV's TPLs are tuned to detect transmissions at frequencies between 5 and 60 Khz.

"It's slow and methodical work. The TPL is towed behind a vessel at slow speeds, generally from 1 - 5 knots depending on their depth. In concert with other navies, we searched the ocean, listening for the acoustic signal from the recorders. We (and other navies) continued the search to the end of the recorder's acoustic signal life expectancy," said Keenan.

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