Air France jet missing off Brazil: official

An Air France passenger jet with 215 people on board is missing after dropping off radar over the Atlantic off the Brazilian coast Monday, a Paris airport official said.

Air France crash: ‘No hope’ of survivors

The Air France plane that disappeared between Brazil and France with 228 people on board today has almost certainly crashed with no survivors, airline and government officials have said.

They believe the Airbus A330-200 aircraft crashed after running in to lightning and thunderstorms over the Atlantic Ocean.

“We are probably facing an air catastrophe,” the Air France chief executive, Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, told a news conference.

He said the aircraft went through a thunderstorm with strong turbulence at around 3am BST.

An automated message was received at 3.14am indicating a failure of the electrical system, Air France said in a statement.

** Air France plane disappears from radar screens

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  • * AP foreign, Monday June 1 2009


    Associated Press Writer= SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) — An Air France jet carrying 228 people from Rio de Janeiro to Paris lost contact with air traffic controllers over the Atlantic Ocean, officials said Monday. Brazil immediately began a search mission off its northeastern coast.

    Air France Flight 447, an Airbus A330, was carrying 216 passengers and 12 crew members, company spokeswoman Brigitte Barrand said. The flight left Rio on Sunday at 7 p.m. local time.

    The plane disappeared about 190 miles (300 kilometers) northeast of the coastal Brazilian city of Natal, near the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, a Brazilian air force spokesman said. The air force began a search began Monday morning near Fernando de Noronha, he added, speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with air force policy.

    The region is about 1,500 miles northeast of Rio.

    An official with France’s transport agency said contact with the plane was lost at 0220 GMT Monday (10:20 p.m. EDT Sunday). The official was not authorized to be named according to agency policy.

    Aviation experts said it was clear the plane was not in the air any longer, due to the amount of fuel it would have been carrying.

    “It’s nearly three hours overdue. There has been no receipt of a mayday call. The conclusion to be drawn is that something catastrophic happened on board that has caused this airplane to ditch in a controlled or an uncontrolled fashion,” Jane’s Aviation analyst Chris Yates told The Associated Press.

    “I would suggest that potentially it went down very quickly and so quickly that the pilots on board didn’t have a chance to make that emergency call,” Yates said, adding that the possibilities ranged from mechanical failure to terrorism.


  • • Airbus A330 flight from Brazil to Paris disappears over Atlantic
    • Airline and ministers all but abandon hope for 228 on board

    * Angelique Chrisafis and Mark Tran
    *, Monday 1 June 2009 14.03 BST

    The Air France plane that disappeared between Brazil and France with 228 people on board today has almost certainly crashed with no survivors, airline and government officials have said.

    They believe the Airbus A330-200 aircraft crashed after running in to lightning and thunderstorms over the Atlantic Ocean.

    “We are probably facing an air catastrophe,” the Air France chief executive, Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, told a news conference.

    He said the aircraft went through a thunderstorm with strong turbulence at around 3am BST.

    An automated message was received at 3.14am indicating a failure of the electrical system, Air France said in a statement.

    “The whole company shares the anxiety of of the families,” Gourgeon said. “We are doing everything possible to get information through, little by little, as it comes through.”

    Sky News reported that Britons were on a list of passengers due to take the fight.

    Brazilian air force planes are searching the Atlantic for flight AF447, which left Rio de Janeiro at 7pm local time (11pm BST) yesterday. It had been expected in Paris at 11.15am today .

    Brazilian air force officials told the Associated Press that a search was under way near the island of Fernando de Noronha, about 1,500 miles north-east of Rio.

    An Air France source was quoted as saying that there was “no hope” for those on board.

    Jean-Louis Borloo, the second most senior figure in the French cabinet, said: “By now it would be beyond its kerosene [aviation fuel] reserves … unfortunately we must now envisage the most tragic scenario.”

    Borloo told the France Info radio station that the plane had disappeared from both military and civilian radar screens.


  • CSM

    Search begins off Brazil’s coast for ‘disappeared’ Air France flight

    Air France reports a possible lightning strike. Airbus 330-200 has a good safety record.

  • RIO DE JANEIRO, June 2 (Reuters) – Brazilian military planes have sighted wreckage 400 miles (650 km) off the South American country’s northern coast that could be part of an Air France plane that went missing on Sunday night, Brazil’s air force said on Tuesday.

    The wreckage, which has still not been confirmed to be parts from Air France flight 447, includes metallic objects and plane seats, an air force spokesman said in a televised statement.

  • The Independent, By John Lichfield, June 5

    Messages said to show Airbus had depressurised and was diving into ocean

    Paris – New evidence suggests that the doomed Air France Airbus was flying too slowly for safety just before it fell from the sky over the ocean late on Sunday night.

    French investigators believe the aircraft adopted the “wrong speed” before it flew into a bank of 100mph storms in the south Atlantic between Brazil and Senegal, according to the newspaper Le Monde.

    Four automatic, emergency messages transmitted by the Airbus A330-200 in the space of four minutes, published by Brazilian newspapers, suggest a catastrophic collapse of the aircraft’s main and back-up electrical systems. The last message, transmitted at 11.14pm Brazilian time – “cabine en vitesse verticale” – suggests that the cabin depressurised and the aircraft fell apart in mid-air.

    The French agency investigating the crash said last night that the messages were “incoherent” about the plane’s speed. But aviation experts said the revelations threw some new light on the mystery of what happened to flight AF447 and its 228 passengers and crew. However, they pointed out that it was difficult to separate symptoms and causes. Was the aircraft flying slower than the recommended speed because it was already in difficulty? Could low speed alone have permitted a modern aircraft to be torn apart by a tropical storm?

    They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.

  • CNN, June 4

    RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — The Brazilian air force said Thursday night that debris picked up near where officials believe Air France Flight 447 crashed Monday into the Atlantic Ocean was not from the plane.

    The news came after the Brazilian navy began retrieving debris Thursday that it believed was wreckage from the flight, which disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean.

    On Wednesday, searchers recovered two debris fields and had identified the wreckage, including an airplane seat and an orange float as coming from Flight 447. Officials now say that none of the debris recovered is from the missing plane.

    Helicopters had been lifting pieces from the water and dropping them on three naval vessels.

    They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.

  • Wall Street Journal, By Andy Pasztor & Dan Michaels, June 5

    Investigators are pursuing a theory that excessive air speed — potentially spurred by ice building up on electronic speed sensors — contributed to the ocean crash of an Air France Airbus A330 amid heavy storms Monday, according to two industry officials familiar with the details.

    The developments helped lead Airbus late Thursday to remind airlines with any Airbus planes that their pilots should check backup systems including GPS any time they suspect their airspeed indicators are malfunctioning, according to the officials.

    The Airbus announcement provides scant new details of the crash of Air France Flight 447. But it reflects the investigators’ suspicion that the sensors — also implicated in at least two other fatal airline crashes and numerous other incidents — were involved, possibly as the first stage of a series of electrical and mechanical malfunctions aboard the jetliner.

    Investigators believe that the so-called pitot tubes may have iced up as the Air France plane with 228 people on board flew through a thunderstorm that could have included heavy rain and violent updrafts, the two industry officials said.

    They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.

  • BBC – The Air France jet which went missing over the Atlantic sent 24 error messages minutes before it crashed, French investigators say.

    Investigators also said the plane’s autopilot was not on, though they do not know if it had been switched off or was not working.

    Weather experts said there was no evidence storms the plane encountered were “exceptional” for the season.

    The Airbus A330 vanished en-route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on Monday.

    Officials do not know what triggered the plane’s problems, but it was flying through an area of thunder storms and turbulence.

    Speaking at a press conference in Paris, the director of France’s air accident investigation agency, Paul-Louis Arslanian, said a total of 24 error messages were received in the final moments of Air France 447, as its systems shut down one by one.

    But he said it was impossible to tell from the plane’s signals why the autopilot was not on.

    Faulty speed meters

    Mr Arslanian confirmed that the missing jet had had a problem calculating its speed, adding that it was a recurring problem on the A330s and that Airbus was undertaking a replacement programme.


  • AFP
    Posted: 14 June 2009 0420 hrs

    RECIFE, Brazil : Debris recovered so far from Air France flight 447 seems to indicate the jet plunged suddenly into the Atlantic Ocean and did not explode in the sky, Brazilian experts said Saturday.

    Almost two weeks after the Rio-Paris flight disappeared at sea, former pilot Ari Germano told O Globo newspaper that he was “struck” by at least one of the photographs released Friday by the Brazilian Air Force.

    According to Germano, who has written a book about air crashes, the images suggested that the Airbus A330 passengers were caught by surprise and the tragedy unfolded so rapidly that the crew did not have the time to react.

    In the photographs, the seats in the crew area were folded with the seatbelts hanging down, which “suggests that the crew was moving about the passenger cabin. If there had been an alert or a warning about a pending risk, the crew would have been seated,” he said.

    “They did not have the time to do anything,” added the former pilot, who also recognized an orange first aid kit that was left intact.


  • Al Jazeera, June 18

    Bone fractures found in bodies recovered from the Atlantic suggest the Air France jet that crashed two and half weeks ago first broke up in the air, aviation experts say.

    A spokesman for Brazilian medical examiners told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Wednesday that fractures in the legs, hips and arms were found in autopsies on an undisclosed number of the 50 bodies recovered so far.

    “Typically, if you see intact bodies and multiple fractures – arm, leg, hip fractures – it’s a good indicator of a midflight break up,” said Frank Ciacco, a former forensic expert at the US National Transportation Safety Board.

    “Especially if you’re seeing large pieces of aircraft as well,” he added.


    “Most of them were long dead before they hit the water would be my guess.”

    See also: AP: Autopsies hint Air France flight broke up in air

    They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.

  • Bloomberg, By Gregory Viscusi and Andrea Rothman, July 3

    The Air France plane that crashed in the Atlantic Ocean June 1 hit the water in one piece and none of the life jackets found later were inflated, suggesting passengers were taken by surprise, French investigators said.

    Flight AF447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, with 228 people on board, was missing for six hours before any flight controllers noticed or issued an alert, said Alain Bouillard, director of the investigation. A month after the accident, no cause has been determined.

    “We are far from determining the cause of the accident,” he said, presenting the French investigators’ preliminary report at a press conference on the outskirts of Paris yesterday.

    One point that emerged from yesterday’s briefing was that the hand-off of the plane from Brazilian authorities to their counterparts in Dakar, Senegal — noting that AF447 would fly through their space — was never completed, Bouillard said.

    They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.

  • The remains of one of the victims of the Air France flight that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil nearly two years ago was brought to the surface Thursday after being found among the wreckage, French authorities said.

    The body, which had lain at the bottom of the ocean since the June 2009 crash, and was still strapped to a seat, was in a ‘degraded’ state, the French gendarmerie, which is charge of the operation, said in a statement.

    Marine police investigators planned to take samples from the remains to see whether DNA testing could be done to establish the victim’s identity.

    But the operation to retrieve the bodies – several of which were spotted among the wreckage – was ‘particularly complex’, raising questions about the ‘feasibility’ of the operation, the gendarmerie said.

    The wreckage of the Airbus A330, which crashed in mysterious circumstances, while flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on June 1, 2009, was located by deep-sea robots at the beginning of April about 1,500 kilometres off the coast of Brazil.

    It was the fourth attempt to locate the plane.

    Several bodies were found among the wreckage.

    Investigators’ first priority, however, was to retrieve the plane’s flight data and cockpit voice recorders, which were brought to surface on Sunday and Monday and which could provide vital clues about the cause of the crash.

    After the crash, around 50 bodies had been found in the water.


  • Huffington Post, By Jeff Wise, December 8

    On the evening of May 31, 2009, 216 passengers and 12 crew members boarded an Air France Airbus 330 at Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The flight, Air France 447, departed at 7.29 p.m. local time for a scheduled 11-hour trip to Paris. It never arrived. At 7 o’clock the next morning, when the aircraft failed to appear on the radar screens of air traffic controllers in Europe, Air France began to worry and contacted civil aviation authorities. By 11 a.m., they concluded that AF447 had gone missing somewhere over the vast emptiness of the South Atlantic.

    How, in the age of satellite navigation and instantaneous global communication, could a state-of-the art airliner simply vanish? It was a mystery that lasted for two years.

    Not until earlier this year, when autonomous submersibles located the airliner’s black boxes under more than two miles of water, were the last pieces of the puzzle put together. What doomed the 228 men, women and children aboard Air France 447 was neither weather nor technological failure, but simple human error. Under pressure, human beings can lose their ability to think clearly and to properly execute their training.

    Over at Popular Mechanics I’ve got a long piece offering a detailed blow-by-blow account of how one of the co-pilots of the Air France jetliner managed, in the course of just five minutes, to take a perfectly operational airplane from an altitude of nearly seven miles down to impact with the ocean. Here, I’d like to offer a nutshell summary of what happened and what our understanding implies for the future of air safety.

    Via digby: Brain freeze

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