[googlemap lat="2.5479878714713706" lng="-32.87109375" width="500px" height="500px" zoom="4" type="G_SATELLITE_MAP"]2.547988,-32.871094[/googlemap]Normally, I wouldn’t discuss an airline disaster here and before I go on let me say my heart goes out to those who lost loved ones in this tragedy. I post this here because I have fielded several questions from friends and family lately about the seafloor, equipment used, and my impression about the possibility of finding the black boxes.
If you don’t know, Air France flight 447 went down in the Atlantic Ocean carrying 228 passengers on June 1st on its way from Rio De Janiero to Paris. How the plane went down is still unknown. Where the plane crashed in the middle of the Atlantic is about 4-5km (2.5-3 miles) in depth. It appears from recent news this likely occured near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, an underwater moutain chain running the spanse of the Atlantic Ocean and a site of seafloor spreading. if that is the case, and the wreck did not occur over the flat abyssal plains, then greatly reduces the probability of finding the black boxes.
The black boxes themselves are probably rated to about 6000m or 600 atm. The homers on the black boxes are built by the reputable Benthos corporation, a staple in the oceanogaphic work. The signal can be detected from about 1 mile (1.6km) away. This is considerably greater than the typical homer used in research this is closer to about 0.5km.
Current word, is that the French Nautile, a manned submersible commissioned in 1984 and rated to 6000m, and the Victor 6000, a remote operated vehicle, will be arriving shortly on the scene to aid in the search for the black boxes and wreckage.