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Woods Hole Researchers Play Key Role In Air France Crash Investigation04:26
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One of the two flight recorders of the Air France flight 447, recently recovered from the Atlantic Ocean, displayed in Paris Thursday. (AP)
One of the two flight recorders of the Air France flight 447, recently recovered from the Atlantic Ocean, displayed in Paris Thursday. (AP)

It's taken almost two years.

But the black boxes from Air France Flight 447, which disappeared on its way from Rio de Janeiro to Paris in May 2009, are finally in the hands of crash investigators.

And they have a Massachusetts organization to thank for this breakthrough in what's been characterized as the biggest unsolved mystery in modern aviation: the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution led the expedition that discovered the debris field more than two miles underwater.

One of the plane's flight recorders was displayed at a press conference in France on Thursday and crash investigators will now try to collect data from the recorders in hopes of learning why the aircraft went down.

Mike Purcell, a senior research engineer at Woods Hole who led the successful search for the missing plane, spoke with WBUR's Sacha Pfeiffer and described how the search team zeroed in on the very large search area it had to cover.

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This program aired on May 12, 2011.

Sacha Pfeiffer Twitter Host, All Things Considered
Sacha Pfeiffer was formerly the host of WBUR's All Things Considered.

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