French accident investigators said they are “not optimistic” of ever finding the black box from the Air France flight 447 jet as it would be lying on Atlantic Ocean floor at a depth of up to 3,000 metres.
Four navy ships with recovery equipment and a tanker are heading to a 5km strip of water about 745 miles north-east of Recife where a Brazilian Air Force spotter plane located debris including plane seats, an orange buoy, wiring, metal pieces and jet fuel stains.
The recorders are designed to send homing signals for up to 30 days. But experts warn it could like looking for a needle in a haystack.
However the Brazilian president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, said he was confident that the black boxes offered the best chance of finding out why the Airbus jetliner vanished.
“I think a country that can find oil 6,000 metres under the ocean can find a plane 2,000 metres down,” he told reporters yesterday in Guatemala, referring to recent oil finds by Brazil’s state energy company in ultra-deep waters.
Investigators have found no signs of survivors from the 228 people onboard.
The Airbus 330 vanished after flying into a line of severe tropical storms. The only clue to the disappearance, which was on a night flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, was an automated transmission from the aircraft reporting sudden electrical and cabin pressure failures.
Airline pilots are speculating that the airliner could have flown into one of the powerful storms cells strong enough to turn a big aircraft on its back.
An ecumenical service in memory of the victims is to be held in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris today. Passengers included 61 French, 58 Brazilians and 26 Germans among the 33 nationalities represented.