BEA image of the cockpit voice recorder on the ocean floor

The cockpit voice recorder has now been recovered from the wreckage of Air France flight AF447, joining the flight data recorder retrieved earlier from the depths of the mid Atlantic.

The recovering of both of the crash hardened data recorders on board the Airbus A330-200 means that French accident investigators may now be able to fully understand what happened to all its systems and control surfaces from shortly before it pushed back from the gate at Rio de Janeiro for its flight to Paris to its crash as well as listen to the two pilots from a period in which everything appeared to have been normal on the flight deck until the jet began to send automated status messages indicating a range of problems culminating in a rapid descent to a belly first contact with the ocean.

Even if there has been a loss of data from the devices in the 23 months since the accident happened, the chances of useful information being extracted from them are obviously improved, and the Bureau of Investigation and Analysis which will attempt to read them says they have no external signs of having been damaged.