Air France Crash: Could There Have Been a Worse Place?

Black Boxes

Salvage teams, meanwhile, worry about being underneath those storms. They are anxious to find the plane's black boxes, a difficult task in the rugged mid-Atlantic trench on the sea floor.

"Salvage equipment can't work in very high seas," said Larry Karl of Oceaneering, Inc., a Maryland-based firm that does salvage operations and operates offshore-oil-drilling equipment. "You can imagine 15-foot seas -- very dangerous for people, and also for equipment."

As for the famed Bermuda Triangle? It turns out not to be the most fearsome area in the minds of most salvage engineers. They worry more about places where the ocean is deeper, and where there's no place to go for help if they need it.

"We don't turn down work because of the degree of difficulty," said Fish. "But we do turn it down when we're pretty sure we can't succeed."

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