Investigators searching for the wreckage of Air France flight AF 447 – which crashed over the Atlantic Ocean in 2009 – have located wreckage on the ocean floor.
Parts of the fuselage – reported to contain corpses of some of the 228 killed – were located at depths of up to 4,000 meters below the surface by the Alucia search vessel.
The discovery follows three failed attempts to locate the Airbus SAS A330 wide-body aircraft, which went down on June 1st, 2009, travelling to Paris Charles De Gaulle airport from Brazil.
The cause of the accident remains unclear, with both Airbus and Air France facing manslaughter charges over the accident.
The discovery of the Airbus jet fragments “gives hope that information on the causes of the accident, so far unresolved, will be found,” Air France-KLM group chief executive officer, Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, said.
“Answers will perhaps therefore be found to the questions that, since June 1st 2009, families of the victims, our airline and the aviation community worldwide have asked as to how this tragic accident occurred,” he added.
An engine and wing have also been located in the biggest development to date in the 22-month search.
Mobilising equipment to descend to the wreck and retrieve the debris will take “several weeks”, said Martine Del Bono, a spokeswoman for France’s air-crash investigation agency.
“Airbus welcomes the news of the discovery of the AF447 wreckage,” said Stefan Schaffrath, a spokesman for the Toulouse-based planemaker.
“We do hope that this discovery will lead to the retrieval and the reading of the two recorders because these data are essential for the understanding of this accident.”