French aviation investigators say they are optimistic of finding the black boxes of crashed Air France Flight 447 when a third phase of research begins in February.

BEA chief Jean-Paul Troadec said Tuesday that an international team of experts will reduce the search area to 26,910 square feet — a fifth the size of previous efforts.

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That should make it easier to locate the plane debris — and the flight recorders. The plane crashed June 1, killing all 228 people on board.

Lead investigator Alain Bouillard said he expects to be able to read the data stored in the black boxes, despite the amount of time they have likely rested on the sea floor.

The Airbus A330 plunged into the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil's coast en route from Rio de Janeiro.

Many families of victims have expressed frustration with the lack of information over the past six months. In its second report on the crash, French accident investigation agency BEA said experts still have little idea about why the plane went down.