Air France 447: Carriers Hurry to Replace Speed Sensors

A total of 41 bodies have now been found in the Atlantic Ocean from Air France flight 447, the airline announced this evening.

And as divers continue to recover remains and wreckage from the crash site, airlines worldwide are scrambling to replace plane speed sensors today on a number of Airbus jets in the aftermath of the accident.

Investigators looking into what may have caused the accident believe speed sensors malfunctioned on the flight. The problem could have caused the plane to fly at an unsafe speed.

VIDEO: Air France Crash Questions Sensor Safety
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Watch "World News with Charles Gibson" Tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET for the full report.

Now Delta, US Airways and United, which flies a different model of Airbus, are rushing to finish replacing their sensors. Faulty speed readings can cause the jet to fly dangerously slow or fast.

It's not known for sure if the sensors contributed to the crash nine days ago, but pilots at Air France aren't taking chances. They've pressured the airline to quickly upgrade the speed sensors, called pitot tubes.

"We are really concerned," said Louis Jobard at Air France's pilots' union. "We have had some incidents, you know, before, reported on the Airbus 330 and Airbus 340 with the old type of pitot sensor."

The speed sensor changeover was recommended by Airbus 17 months ago, but it's common for airlines to take their time on non-critical work. Airbus had recommended changing the sensors because of reliability issues, and Air France had noticed sensors icing up on some flights.

The sensors had not yet been changed on flight 447, which former National Transportation Safety Board managing director Peter Goelz said was "not unusual."

"The recommendation that was made to Air France was not an emergency recommendation," Goelz said today. "It was a recommendation that could be completed over time. And given the economics of the airline industry now, no air carrier wants to take their plane out of service unnecessarily."

The push to replace potentially faulty sensors was one of several distinct efforts under way today to make sure travelers are safe in the air.

In separate initiatives, the Federal Aviation Administration called on investigators to immediately focus on pilot training required by smaller, regional airlines on the heels of a deadly crash this winter in Buffalo.

Also today, the NTSB began a three-day hearing into the rare success story of what happened when US Airways flight 1549 landed on the Hudson River.

In the Air France crash, pilots weren't just struggling with equipment problems: It was likely a series of failures and mishaps that led to the tragedy.

Among them, weather consultant Tim Vasquez has determined the plane's flight path would have taken the jet right through a series of towering thunderstorms.

Air France 447: 41 Bodies Recovered From Atlantic

The reality of the Air France crash was painfully evident today as the bodies recovered from the ocean were transported to shore. The bodies recovered will soon be identified and examined for any injuries that may help explain what happened.

Despite the progress in the search, Goelz said at this point it is a daunting task.

"This issue with the wreckage is it's been at sea for at least six or seven days," he said. "They've got to chart currents, wind."

On Monday an "ocean of debris" surrounded divers recovering wreckage and bodies from Air France flight 447 in the Atlantic Ocean, and searchers today recovered the stabilizer from the plane's tail, according to the Brazilian Navy.

It's still unclear if the jet broke up in the air or on impact. But former crash investigator Gregory Feith said they may be able to tell from the tail.

"If it's on the backside or the furthest up the debris chain, then there's a high probability that could have been one of the first components that came off the airplane," said Feith.

The evidence is being flown to the Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha, some 400 miles off the country's coast.

The flight crashed with 228 people onboard en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris after departing on May 31. As the hunt for clues picks up pace, searchers are scouring an area 45 miles from where plane last sent a burst of automated messages documenting failures in the flight's systems.

In the grim recovery effort, human remains will provide clues about what may have gone wrong.

Frank Ciaccio, who supervised wreckage recovery for Egypt Air and other underwater accidents while working for the National Transportation Safety Board, said full forensic examinations are "not going to solve all the answers," but can still provide crucial information.

"Identifying them is going to be the No. 1 priority," said Ciaccio, forensics specialist and vice president of commercial services for Kenyon International Disaster Management Services. "No. 2 priority is going to be to document any injuries the body sustains so that they can add to the investigation, and help with putting a final picture together."

"It's not going to solve why this plane went down, but it'll give something back to the family members that do find their loved ones right now, and it'll give some hope to the other ones that hopefully they will be able to recover more of their loved ones," he added.

Air France 447: Black Box Signals Will Last Another Three Weeks

A French nuclear submarine is expected to arrive Wednesday to look for the plane's black boxes.

On Monday, the U.S. Navy sent a team and two underwater, high-tech listening devices used in military crashes. The devices are towed behind a boat to listen for the "pinging" signal emitted from the plane's cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorders. They can detect the black boxes at depths of 20,000 feet and have been used in military accidents.

Those recorders could also tell investigators whether the pilots tried to turn back toward land. Investigators believe may have been the case, based on the location of the wreckage and bodies.

"The black boxes are really going to give a lot of information, a good 90 percent of the information," Ciaccio said. "These are all pieces of the puzzle. It would be like an incomplete puzzle with the black boxes not being recovered."

The boxes' locator signals may last just 21 more days.

ABC News' Zoe Magee, Ammu Kannampilly, Renata Araujo, Sonia Gallego, Joe Goldman, Christel Kucharz, Luis Martinez, Phoebe Natanson, Fabiola Antezana, Gabriel O'Rorke, Samira Parkinson-Smith, Kirit Radia and Christophe Schpoliansky, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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