Beneath the Atlantic, remains of Air France 447 finally found

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Almost two years ago, Air France Flight 447 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean during a severe storm. So far, experts have only been able to make educated guesses about what brought the plane down—with attention focusing on faulty air speed sensors in the Airbus A330-200. Now, there's a possibility that we can learn something more concrete about this crash.

On Sunday, deep-sea robots recovered the flight data recorder from Air France Flight 447. Of course, the pilot voice recorder is still missing, and it's not yet clear whether the information stored on the flight data recorder will be recoverable after two years at deep ocean pressures. But this find is still a big deal, as Clive Irving explains on the Daily Beast ...

Nonetheless it is a remarkable achievement to have located the wreck. Some good luck was involved. Parts of the ocean bed in the area are like a mountain range, with ravines as deep as 20,000 feet. The remains of the Airbus were found scattered over a flat and sandy area with visibility good enough for thousands of photographs to be taken.

Technology used in the search was provided by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts. It involves two types of unmanned deep-water vehicles, a torpedo-shaped robot called the Remus 6000 with sensors and sonar scanners, used to locate and photograph the wreck, and a Remora 6000 fitted with arms that can pick up pieces--it was this machine that retrieved the recorders.

The robots took photos of the debris field, including the eerie black and white shot of Flight 447's landing gear, posted above, and some images of the flight data recorder itself, as it was found half buried in silt.

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Images: Ho New / Reuters