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Flight computers at heart of Air France crash?

Anomalies in on-board computerized controls have destabilized other A330 jets. Airbus sees no link between those cases and Flight 447.

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As the search for the black boxes from Air France Flight 447 continues, some pilots are raising new concerns about the safety of the Airbus 330's computerized flight controls.

French and Brazilian authorities said Tuesday they will search for Air France Flight 447 as long as there is hope of finding the flight data recorders.

Several Brazilian military ships, a French submarine, and two Dutch ships towing high-tech US Navy listening devices are scouring the Atlantic for any signs of the pinger beacons from the flight data recorders, known as black boxes. The pinger signals weaken daily and are designed to last only another two weeks.

"We'll continue doing this until the moment that, technically, we determine the searches are useless," Nelson Jobim, Brazil's defense minister, told a Brazilian press agency today.

The black boxes hold data that can help unlock the mystery of what caused the Airbus 330 to apparently break up in flight and plunge into the Atlantic Ocean on June 1, during a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

Without that black-box data, lingering questions will fuel speculation about the safety of the A330 and other highly automated planes like it. Initial examination of some of the 49 recovered bodies indicates the plane broke up in flight, but there have been no signs of an explosion.

That's prompted a new round of concern among some pilots and aviation analysts that the plane's computerized flight controls may have malfunctioned, initiating a chain of events from which the pilots could not recover.


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