PARIS (Reuters) - The search for the wreckage and black boxes of an Air France aircraft which crashed into the Atlantic last year killing all 228 people on board will resume in February, the French government said on Thursday.
Flight AF447, an Airbus A330, crashed into the sea between Rio de Janeiro and Paris on June 1, 2009. An initial search found wreckage and bodies but the flight recorders, which could provide clues to what happened, have not been located.
"The fourth search phase should start in February, 2011, in line with the hypotheses that were put forward on October 5 at the last information committee of the families," a statement from the French Transport Ministry said.
Families of the victims, who met with the ministry and the air accident investigation agency, had at the meeting questioned the way the third search was handled.
Search teams looking for the missing black box recorders called off operations in May after failing to locate them.
Finding the black boxes is seen as essential to help crash experts and relatives understand why flight 447 plunged into a remote part of the Atlantic during an equatorial storm.
Speculation about the cause of the crash has focused on possible icing of the aircraft's speed sensors, which appeared to give inconsistent readings seconds before the plane vanished.
(Reporting by John Irish; editing by Andrew Roche)