Today it has been once year since Air France Flight AF447 crashed in the Atlantic, killing all onboard.
The anniversary of the tragedy comes days after a third search for wreckage of the Airbus A330-200 failed to find any new clues. The cockpit voice and flight data recorders, as well as engines and other major structural elements remain not located.
The French air accident investigation office, the BEA, has not said if a new search will be mounted, but that looks unlikely. Announcing no further searches in advance of the memorial services held today would have been politically unacceptable in France. Today, the French government set up a committee to regularly update victims’ families on the progress of the BEA review.
There have been many different theories on what went wrong. Just how fluid the views still are – and the uncertainty among accident investigators – was highlighted last month when the French navy had thought to have identified an old signal from the beacons attached to the so called black boxes. The location suggested AF447 had turned around, something previously not expected. But the data turned out to be erroneous, so that theory is no longer on the agenda.
Some of the key decisions are unlikely to ever be revealed, particularly concerning crew decisions on why they did not fly around a severe storm prevalent in the area at the time. Other issues are better understood, for instance the fact that pitot tube blockage, likely through icing, appears to have affected the aircraft systems. Even if that alone should not have led to a crash, it will feature heavily in any probable cause findings