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Air France Flight 447

Landing gear from Air France Flight 447icon-caption
Landing gear from Air France Flight 447 photographed from a REMUS 6000 autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). (BEA/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

On June 1, 2009, Air France Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashed several hundred miles off the northeastern coast of Brazil and landed deep in the ocean on some of the most rugged seafloor terrain on Earth.

On April 4, 2011, a search team led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) located the wreckage of the Airbus jet some 3,900 meters (nearly 2.5 miles) below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.

Only after locating the airplane's flight data and cockpit voice recorders and analyzing the wreckage itself could investigators with the French Bureau of Investigation and Analysis (BEA) sufficiently answer questions related to the cause of the crash and help avoid a similar disaster in the future.