JIM LEHRER: In other news today, the state of California began issuing an initial batch of IOUs for more than $50 million in bills. That’s after Governor Schwarzenegger and lawmakers failed to agree on how to close a budget deficit. That’s projected at more than $26 billion. State offices will also have to close three days a month to conserve cash.
Vice President Biden made an unannounced trip to Iraq today. He arrived in Baghdad for a three-day visit and a greeting by Iraqi leaders and U.S. military officials. It came two days after Iraqi troops took control of the country’s major cities. Biden is expected to urge the Iraqis to make more progress on reconciling their political differences.
In France, investigators issued their first report on the Air France passenger jet that crashed off Brazil last month. All 228 people on board were killed.
We have a report from Robert Moore of Independent Television News.
ROBERT MOORE: One month on and the mystery not only endures; in many ways, it deepens. Investigators revealed today the plane did not explode in the air. It appears it was intact during the whole of its terrifying descent into the Atlantic Ocean.
Hundreds of pieces of debris have been recovered by the Brazilian navy and autopsies performed on 51 bodies. At today’s news conference, an investigator outlined some of the few facts he could be certain of.
PHILIP SWAN, Air Accident Investigator: The aircraft was not destroyed in flight. It appears to have struck the surface of the water in line of flight — in a straight line, in other words — with a very high vertical acceleration.
ROBERT MOORE: One key fault may have been the failing speed sensors, known as pitot tubes. They’re now being upgraded across the A330 fleet.
Pitot tubes are located on the exterior of the fuselage and are used to measure the air speed of the plane. Although heated to prevent them freezing over, they can become blocked under some conditions. That can leave a pilot lacking critical information. Flown too slow, the plane can stall; too fast, it can break up.
One Air France pilot said the new modifications made the plane safe.
CEDRIC MANIEZ, Air France Pilot: Now we have these brand-new air speed sensors, and the aircraft is more safe than ever.
ROBERT MOORE: You would put your own family on one without hesitation?
CEDRIC MANIEZ: No hesitation. I fly it myself maybe once a week around the world. So I feel safe with that, yes. I’m OK with that.
ROBERT MOORE: The absolute frustration for investigators is that the explanation lies within those black box data recorders, but they are at a depth of 6,000 meters and their beacons are expected to fade within days. It means the story of Air France 447 could become one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries.
JIM LEHRER: The investigators did say they found no trace of fire or explosions on the wreckage they’ve recovered.
North Korea has test-fired four more short-range missiles. The South Korean defense ministry reported the launches. It said the missiles were anti- ship weapons. At least two were fired from a base near the city of Wonsan on North Korea’s east coast.
The North Koreans have also warned they may test-fire a long-range missile, possibly toward Hawaii, over the Fourth of July weekend.