Research diving robot seeks missing Airbus

Autonomous underwater vehicle of marine research institute searches for black boxes in the Atlantic

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Nine months after the crash of the Air France Airbus AF447 in the Atlantic Ocean, diving robots from marine research are now being used. Normally used for the mapping of the seabed, the autonomous underwater travel time ABYSS is to search in early March for the lost flight recorder of the aircraft.

On the night of June 1, 2009, the Airbus 330 of the airline Air France on the flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris suddenly disappeared from the monitors of the air traffic control. It quickly turned out that the plane had crashed over the tropical Atlantic, but the exact cause of the accident remained unknown. During the summer, experts searched unsuccessfully for several months for the flight recorders of the machine, but had no success. In March, a new attempt will be launched with state-of-the-art marine technology.

A shoebox at 6, 000 meters depth

On board a Norwegian special ship for work in the deep sea, three identical autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are used, one of which is the submersible ABYSS from the Kiel Leibniz Institute for Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR). The torpedo-like system can dive down to a depth of 6, 000 meters on a pre-programmed course using high-resolution seabed mapping. It is able to capture objects the size of a shoebox.

"We have been in contact with Airbus and Air France for a long time regarding the new search operation and are now very confident that the armada of three search vehicles can locate the aircraft wreck and the missing flight recorders, " explains Professor Peter Herzig, Director of the IFM-GEOMAR. "At the end of last year, the submersible ABYSS showed what it is made of in its most recent research project off the coast of Papua New Guinea, " Herzig continues. "We wish the mission every success, so that the cause of the accident is finally cleared up, " says Herzig.

The other two submersibles are provided by the two American marine research facilities Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Waitt Institute. display

(IFM-GEOMAR, 19.02.2010 - NPO)