In the second phase of the search beginning next week, sonar and diving equipment will be used to scan the ocean floor.
The French accident investigation board, known by its acronym BEA, will commence Phase 2 of the search using sonar and diving equipment from a French research vessel to scan the mountainous ocean floor for any signs of wreckage and the plane's flight data recorders.
The initial search, which focused on locating the "pinger" signal emitted by the black boxes, ended July 10 after the batteries which power the signal were thought to have run down.
This new phase of the search, which will use a towed sonar system to scan the ocean floor, is expected to last a month.
"If we are very, very lucky, we will find [the flight data recorders]," says Martine Del Bono, a BEA spokeswoman. "Right now it's step by step in the investigation, so we are in the beginning of Phase II. After that, we'll see."
The flight data recorders, also known as black boxes, hold key information that can help explain what caused the Airbus 330-200 to plunge into Atlantic Ocean in a thunderstorm on a routine flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. All 228 people aboard are believed to have perished. Aviation analysts say it's vital to find the black boxes and as much wreckage as possible in order to understand what caused the accident – so that others can be prevented.