Monday 27 February 2017

New search for black box of Air France flight 447

Michael McHale

THE father of a young Irish doctor who died after a plane went missing while crossing the Atlantic hopes that a renewed search for remains will bring him closer to his daughter but doubts it will find her body.

Dr Aisling Butler (26), from Roscrea, Co Tipperary, was on board Air France flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris when the plane vanished over the Atlantic on June 1.

Neither her body, nor those of her friends on board, Dr Jane Deasy (27), from Rathgar in Dublin, and Dr Eithne Walls (28), from Ballygowan, Co Down, have since been recovered.

Since the tragedy, searches for the black box on board that would give crucial information on what went wrong have been unsuccessful.

Belongings

Yesterday, France's chief air accident investigator announced a new €10m international search for the remains, which will begin in mid March.

Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Aisling's father John welcomed the news, but was sceptical about any chances of recovering her daughter's body. "We can only assume we won't (get back her body)," he said, "but maybe we might be able to get some of her belongings.

"It would be nice to get some of the things that she had ... a shoe, or a bit of jewellery, anything that would just tie us back to Aisling."

Announcing the new search operation, investigation chief Jean-Paul Troadec said the four-week search will be one of the most expensive and biggest of its kind.

He added that since initial efforts to find remains ended, "the investigation has stalled" but said that this time there is an "above 50pc" chance that the black boxes on board will be found.

"In my own opinion I can't see how (the search) is going to change anything -- it'll probably be just polishing up bits and pieces," Mr Butler said.

He added that he has maintained contact with the families of Jane Deasy and Eithne Walls, but said that the tragedy has still left his loved ones "totally devastated and broken hearted".

"It's still a total shock, I'm just barely coping," he said. The new search will be jointly financed by Airbus and Air France.

The US navy will help, along with international accident experts.

The second and most recent search for the black boxes ended in August. Investigators believe that the crash was likely caused by a series of failures.

Irish Independent

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