[Updated at 6:23 a.m.] The cockpit voice recorder from an Air France plane that crashed mysteriously nearly two years ago, killing all 228 people on board, has been found, the head of the company announced Tuesday.
The announcement came "only hours" after the recovery of the flight data recorder's memory unit, Air France chief executive Pierre-Henri Gourgeon said, citing the official French air accident investigation agency, the Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses (BEA).
He called it "another decisive step forward in the inquiry" into the cause of the crash, which remains unknown nearly two years after it happened.
Air France flight 447 crashed in stormy weather en route to Paris from Brazil on June 1, 2009. It took nearly two years and a massive undersea search to locate the bulk of the wreckage deep in the Atlantic Ocean.
Only about 50 bodies were ever found, but investigators announced last month that the fuselage still contained human remains.
The discovery of the two data recorders may finally explain why the Airbus A330 dropped out of the sky and bellyflopped into the ocean, falling so quickly that air masks did not have time to deploy.
The cockpit voice recorder was brought to the surface by the Remora 6000, the same remote-controlled submarine that brought the flight data recorder memory unit up from the Atlantic on Sunday, the BEA said.
The finds come more than three weeks after search teams found the tail section of the Airbus A330.
Air France, in a written statement Sunday, called the first discovery "very significant."
But a British aviation consultant said he is skeptical about how useful the memory unit will be to investigators, considering it has been sitting between 2,000 to 4,000 meters (6,562 to 13,124 feet) below the ocean's surface for 23 months.
"If you were to throw a computer into the ocean, imagine how all the parts would eventually split and you have the corrosive effects of seawater and the depths involved," Phil Seymour, chief operating officer of the International Bureau of Aviation, said last week.
"It may be that the more wreckage they find will help them to piece it all together, which bit by bit could help them build a picture of what caused the plane to come down," Seymour said.
Martine Del Bono, a spokeswoman for the Paris-based BEA, says there is a good chance the memory unit, which records any instructions sent to the aircraft's electronic systems, will still hold retrievable data.
The Airbus A330's pilots lost contact with air traffic controllers while flying across an area of the Atlantic Ocean known for constant bands of severe turbulence, officials said.
Several other planes passed through the area safely at about the same time AF447 crashed.