Even with the cockpit voice and flight data recorders for Air France Flight F447 now recovered and transferred to the headquarters of the French air accident investigation office, the BEA, more patience will be required before it becomes fully clear why the Airbus A330-200 crashed on June 1, 2009 while flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.
Briefing reporters today, the BEA says that it hopes to be able to determine by Monday to what extent it can extract information from the so called black boxes.
That will be an important point of information. If the news is bad, and the devices are heavily damaged, analysis of other elements of the aircraft – such as the engine and avionics bay -- will take on added importance.
If there is a lot of corrosion damage on the recording devices, technicians may be able to restore some of the connections later to help extract more data, but that process would be slow.
The analysis of the data itself will take some time.
Even if things go well, the BEA is warning that a final report with a probably cause finding is unlikely to emerge this year.
Meanwhile, there are growing complaints about the search operation and the delays it take to locate the wreckage. Some of those concerns are to be aired in Paris next week.
Whether the delays actually have any material impact on determining a probable cause for the crash is another matter. If heavy corrosion has damaged the black boxes, then the delays could be problematic. But if not, then the delays may have been difficult for all parties involved, but not damaging to the investigation.
BEA also released this interesting picture of the debris field: