Submarine signal analysis moves AF447 search to new site

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French investigators are to extend the search for a crashed Air France Airbus A330 to a new location, south of the current region under examination.

The decision follows new analysis by the French Navy of audio signals detected by the nuclear submarine Emeraude which was brought in to assist the search for flight AF447 days after its loss on 1 June 2009.

France's Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses states that the information was originally picked up during the first phase of the search in the South Atlantic.

"These [analysis] results were obtained very recently and made it possible to define a zone of a few dozen square kilometres in which the aircraft wreckage may be found," it adds.

"Given this latest information, the BEA has decided to extend the searches to this zone."

Three separate search efforts have been organised since the A330 crashed while en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, the third of which has been exploring a clearly-defined rectangular area north of the aircraft's last known position.

But the BEA says that the latest information will focus the search on a location two hours' sailing time to the south of the area currently being scoured.

Search efforts are set to start in this area on 7 May. The search team is using a single surface vessel, supported by autonomous underwater vehicles, for the work. The BEA is to provide an update on progress on 10 May.