French investigators are to extend the South Atlantic search for the wreckage of a crashed Air France Airbus A330, although with just a single vessel.

Air France and Airbus are each to contribute €1.5 million ($2 million) to this prolonged effort.

The Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses, which has been overseeing a third search over the past month for the wreck of flight AF447, is continuing the effort after reporting on progress to the French transport secretary.

But while the search has combined the underwater scanning resources of two ships - the Anne Candies and Seabed Worker - the former, a US Navy vessel, has been recruited for a military operation and will be unavailable.

"The BEA believes that it is, in fact, still possible to localise the aircraft wreckage in, or near, the zone that has just been explored," says the BEA.

"It is therefore considered appropriate to use the equipment that has already been mobilised and is available to continue the operations as quickly as possible."

With other equipment also having to be relocated to different duties, the search teams will have just a single ship and two Remus 6000 autonomous vehicles at their disposal.

Extended operations have already begun, with the vessel arriving in the search zone yesterday.

"They are currently aimed at covering the peripheral areas of the initial search zone and at clearing up remaining doubts," says the BEA.

These areas include a region adjacent to the initial zone, to the northwest of AF447's last known position, as well as a region within the initial zone which consists of rough terrain. The search will be completed around 25 May.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news