PARIS - Air France focused on aiding families of victims from the crash of Flight 447, offering a first advance yesterday on compensation while investigators worked to solve the mystery of what brought the jet down.
The top European air-safety agency said there was not yet enough evidence to issue a mandatory recall of an external air-speed monitor suspected of contributing to the May 31 disaster over the Atlantic.
Air France chief executive Phillipe Gourgeon told RTL radio that the airline would make an advance of about 17,500 euros, or $24,400, for each of the 228 victims, with no strings attached. He said it also may hold a memorial for all the victims.
Some relatives of French victims have accused Air France of a lack of sympathy and of failing to keep them informed about the crash investigation. Gourgeon said the airline had had trouble even reaching some relatives of victims, who came from 32 countries.
Investigators say an automated message sent by the Airbus A330-200 minutes before it lost contact en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris indicates it was receiving inconsistent speed readings from external monitors called Pitot tubes.
Air France has replaced the Pitot tubes on all its A330 and A340 aircraft, under pressure from pilots who feared a link to the accident.
Daniel Hoeltgen, a spokesman for the Cologne, Germany-based European Aviation Safety Agency, said yesterday that there was not enough evidence to warrant a mandatory order that all airlines replace the part.
A Brazilian naval ship arrived yesterday in the coastal city of Recife with a significant amount of debris and recovered baggage, adding to hundreds of pieces of debris that experts are studying for clues to the accident's cause.