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Air France Crash Investigators to Open 'Black Boxes'

A BEA air accident inquiry official (R), seen in this image published on the web site of France's BEA air accident inquiry office surveys the handling of a flight data recorder aboard ship, May 2, 2011

French investigators say they are hopeful about recovering data from the flight recorders of an Air France jet that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near Brazil almost two years ago.
Officials from the French Transport Ministry said Thursday they are optimistic that the recorders, or "black boxes," will yield at least some information that can help them determine why the plane crashed. Authorities say it will take at least three days to learn if they can retrieve the information, but interpreting it could take months.

French officials announced last week that the flight recorders had been located and brought to the sea surface after a lengthy search.

Forensics experts will examine tissue samples from a pair of bodies brought up from the crash site earlier this month to determine whether DNA can be used to identify the crash victims. Authorities say they may continue search and recovery operations if the DNA is found to be usable.

Air France Flight 447 plunged into the Atlantic in June 2009, not long after taking off from Rio de Janeiro for Paris. The disaster killed all 228 people on board.

The Air France plane was flying in a storm, but the exact cause of the crash has not been determined.

Experts speculate that icing on external speed sensors gave the pilots incorrect readings.