Bodies of Air France Flight 447 Passengers Found; Speed Monitors Proven Faulty

The first bodies of passengers of the doomed Air France flight that plummeted into the sea have been found, Brazil's air force said Saturday.

The Brazilian military said search crews scanning the Atlantic Ocean located two male bodies of passengers aboard Flight 447 — which crashed midway through a trip from Rio de Janeiro to Paris before dawn Monday morning.

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Air force spokesman Col. Jorge Amaral said searchers also recovered a leather briefcase with an Air France ticket for the flight inside of it.

"It was confirmed with Air France that the ticket number corresponds to a passenger on the flight," he told The Associated Press.

Amaral said the bodies were recovered Saturday morning and were picked up roughly 400 miles northeast of the Fernando de Noronha islands off Brazil's northern coast.

All 228 passengers and crew perished in the accident, which is believed to have occurred when the Airbus 330's systems failed during a violent storm about four hours into the flight. There were no survivors, officials said.

Air France acknowledged on Saturday that speed monitors on some of its Airbus planes have proven faulty, icing up at high altitude, and that recommendations to change them were first made in September 2007.

Air France issued a statement with details about the monitors hours after the French agency investigating the disaster of Flight 447 said the instruments were not replaced on that aircraft — an A330 — before it crashed last week.

Air France said it began replacing the monitors on the Airbus A330 model on April 27 after an improved version became available.

Pitot tubes, located on the exterior of the aircraft, are used to help measure aerodynamic speed.

Aviation officials have said the crash investigation is increasingly focused on whether external instruments may have iced over, confusing speed sensors and possibly leading computers to set the plane's speed too fast or slow — a potentially deadly mistake in severe turbulence.

An Air France statement said that icing of the monitors at high altitude has led at times to loss of needed flying information.

However, the Air France statement stressed the recommendation to change the monitor "allows the operator full freedom to totally, partially or not at all apply it." When safety is at issue the aircraft maker issues, rather than a recommendation, a mandatory service bulletin followed up by an airworthiness directive.

Air France said that only a "small number" of incidents linked to the monitors had been reported.

Airbus has said the French agency investigating the crash found the doomed flight received inconsistent airspeed readings by different instruments as it struggled with turbulence in a massive thunderstorm.

Earlier in the week, French investigators said debris reported to have been from Flight 447 was in fact not from the crashed Air France plane, despite Brazil's assertion that it was.

In Brazil, visibility and weather conditions improved Saturday in the area searchers are focusing on but debris earlier spotted on the ocean's surface may have sunk by now.

"Debris doesn't indefinitely float, and when it sinks we will not have the means of finding them," Air Force Brig. Gen. Ramon Cardoso told reporters late Friday.

Cardoso has insisted that the debris spotted — an airplane seat, a slick of kerosene and other pieces — was from the plane. But he confirmed that Brazilian searchers had yet to recovered any of the material.

He said searchers did not pursue the reports of debris — the first sighting was reported on Tuesday — because priority was given to the hunt for survivors or the remains of victims.

Meanwhile, a German government-owned satellite spotted debris in the Atlantic on Wednesday, a German Aerospace Center spokesman said, but he added it was unclear whether the material came from the plane.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.