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Old June 4th, 2009, 06:09 PM   #81
hkskyline
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Pilot saw 'white light' where Air France flight lost: airline
4 June 2009
Agence France Presse

The captain of a Spanish airliner flying in the same area as the Air France plane when it disappeared claims to have seen "an intense flash of white light", the company's director general said Thursday.

Flight 974 between Lima and Madrid was flying "slightly further north" than the ill-fated Airbus when the captain "saw something which seemed potentially interesting" for crash investigators, Jose Maria Llodra told AFP.

"Suddenly, we saw in the distance a strong and intense flash of white light, which followed a descending and vertical trajectory and which broke up in six seconds," the captain wrote in the report, Llodra said.

"Given the coincidence of time and place, I bring to your attention these elements so that they may be, possibly, useful in casting a light on the facts," the added in the report which has been sent to Air France, Airbus and the Spanish aviation security authority.

The co-pilot and a passenger on the Air Comet flight also saw the light, Llodra said, confirming a report published earlier in daily newspaper El Mundo.

"At night you can see very far. I can't assess the information, say if it is plausible or not that the light which was seen was from the Airbus. I also can't give an opinion about what happened," he said.

When the pilot reported seeing the light, the Air Comet flight was flying at an altitude of 35,000 feet and its position was seven degrees north latitude and 49 degrees west longitude.

The Air Comet plane was flying some 60 kilometres (40 miles) further north than its scheduled route to avoid stormy weather, Llodra said.

"That night there were intense storms in the area," he said.

El Mundo said the report by the Air Comet pilot "put on the table" as a possible cause of the crash "the explosion of a bomb on board the plane".

But the newspaper noted that the automatic messages sent by the plane just before it went down which were cited by the Brazilian media pointed toward a loss of control of the plane by the pilot after navigation systems broke down due to "heavy turbulence".

French daily Le Monde said Thursday that the pilots of the Air France plane may not have been flying at the right speed to combat foul weather.

The Air France flight 447 went down on Monday during a flight from Rio to Paris with 228 people on board under mysterious circumstances.

Air Comet is a Madrid-based airliner that mainly flies long-haul routes between Spain and Latin America.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 09:00 PM   #82
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Debris, Oil Slick From Air France Flight found off Brazilian Coast


Brazilian search planes are recovering what officials say is the wreckage of Air France Flight 447 which disappeared Monday off Brazil's northern coast. The debris will be examined for serial numbers and other markings to confirm that it is the missing plane. The Airbus A330 vanished about four hours after leaving Rio de Janeiro, bound for Paris.
Search planes found a 20 kilometer long oil slick, apparently left by the Air France jet.

Flight 447 left Rio de Janeiro bound for Paris on Monday. It carried 228 people. Debris found in the ocean could offer clues on why the four year old airplane went down.

"The nature of the debris, the density, the position, make no doubt that we have the first material evidence that are linked to Air France 447," said Commander Christophe Prazuck, a spokesman for France's military.

A meteorologist with AccuWeather tells VOA that Flight 447 may have encountered 160-kilometer-per-hour winds as it flew into strong storms along the equator.
The area is called the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone. It's where the trade winds between the Northern and Southern hemisphere meet.

U.S. pilots who fly this route say the zone's fierce thunderstorms carry moisture lower and therefore often do not appear on radar.

Paul Zurkowski, a commercial pilot who flies to South America, says darkened cockpits help. "We'll turn off the interior lights and turn on the exterior lights to see more of what's outside, more of the clouds," he said.

Some experts point to severe turbulence or lightning strikes as to the cause. But planes are built to withstand strikes, so pilots say it's doubtful that lightning would be catastrophic.

Zurkowski says a few years back his plane started shaking and he realized it had been struck, just below his seat.

"We didn't see any damage to the airplane airborne, it didn't affect our radios or navigation equipment," he said. "But it did put small holes in the airplane which were found by maintenance when we landed."

Shortly before it vanished, Flight 447 transmitted automatic messages reporting failures in its pressurization and electrical systems.

The Airbus is a "fly-by-wire" plane, meaning it relies totally on electricity to fly. Ron Ball piloted the same type of plane - an A330 - before retiring. "It's just built like a truck," he said.

Ball says electrical failure on board flight 447 is unlikely.

"There's so many back-up redundant systems electrically that, even if you lost everything, there's a ram air turbine you can deploy underneath the airplane with a propeller of its own that spins up there, and you have a generator there that takes over everything," he said.

Ball thinks a structural problem brought down the plane.

Air traffic controllers heard no distress call or unusual messages from the pilots before the plane disappeared from radar.

"Whatever happened, in my opinion was so instantaneous and so overwhelming that they just didn't have time or the capability to do any of that," Ball adds.

The real answer may be at the bottom of this water. The flight recorders will transmit a signal for 30 days.

"We are now in a race against time," said Jean-Louis Borloo, the French Transportation Minister.
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Old June 5th, 2009, 09:48 AM   #83
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GPS tracks phones, cars, but not planes
Air France crash renews call for end to radar systems

4 June 2009

CHICAGO (AP) - Get lost in the woods and a cell phone in your pocket can help camping buddies find you. Drive into a ditch and GPS in your car lets emergency crews pinpoint the crash site. But when a transcontinental flight is above the middle of the ocean, no one on the ground can see exactly where it is -- in the air, or worse, in the water.

The disappearance of Air France Flight 477 and its 228 passengers over the Atlantic Ocean this week has critics of radar-based air traffic control calling on the U.S. and other countries to hasten the move to GPS-based networks that promise to precisely track all planes. Current radars are obsolete more than 200 miles (320 kilometers) from land.

"The technology's there -- we've had this stuff for 15 years and little's happened," said Michael Boyd, a Colorado-based airline analyst. "My BlackBerry can be used to track me, so why can't we do it with planes?"

U.S. officials have discussed setting up such a network since the 1990s and the technology is being tested in parts of the country, including Alaska and off the Gulf Coast. A few carriers, like Southwest, already use GPS to help planes make quicker landings that burn less fuel.

But full implementation, estimated at a cost of $35 billion, has languished amid funding delays and disputes over technical complexities. Although Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has said the project will be among the Federal Aviation Administration's top priorities in the Obama administration, the existing radar system is likely to remain for at least another decade.

"It's a crude system they're using now," said Robert Poole, an aviation expert with the free market-oriented Reason Foundation. "For 100 dollars, you can run down and buy a GPS system, put it in your car and know exactly where you are. But planes don't have it."

Some European and Asian countries are moving more quickly toward establishing pricey satellite systems. But many other countries lag behind, including Brazil, where the ill-fated Air France took off Sunday.

Current air traffic systems do not allow controllers to see a transoceanic plane on radar until it is within about 200 miles (320 kilometers) of land. Instead, controllers often estimate a plane's location based on flight plans and departure times. Such imprecision leaves planes vulnerable in emergencies, such as water landings, Boyd said.

"If a plane ditches and there are survivors, you may not be able to get to it fast enough," he said. "And if an airplane was hijacked in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, we wouldn't know until it pops up somewhere else."

A reported electrical system failure aboard Flight 477 likely would have knocked out any GPS devices even if the flight had been equipped with that technology. But under a satellite system, rescuers would have known the aircraft's precise location when the failure occurred, presumably making the search area much smaller and helping authorities locate the wreckage faster. That timeliness can also be crucial in determining a cause of a crash.

Radar quality varies from country to country. For example, many U.S. control centers at least enable planes to send more frequent updates about their location, even when beyond radar's reach.

But over oceans, including vast blind spots in the middle of the Atlantic on U.S.-European routes, pilots usually have to resort to calling controllers with estimated positions every hour or so. The call-ins can frustrate pilots, especially in and around South America, where radio and radar coverage can be patchy, said retired airline pilot Vaughn Cordle, who lives in the Washington area.

"There's nothing worse than going through the painful exercise of trying to talk to someone and letting them know where you are," Cordle said. "The South American region can be more dangerous because pilots are sometimes on their own."

A plane failing to check in after more than two or three hours can be an air traffic controller's worst fear, said New York-based controller Pat McDonough.

"It's very disturbing to the controller to lose an aircraft -- you feel responsible," he said. "I sympathize with those guys watching the Air France flight."

GPS proponents say satellite-based air traffic systems provide another benefit that could have directly affected Flight 477, which disappeared into a band of towering thunderstorms. Such systems would collect information from around the globe and allow for real-time weather maps to appear on cockpit displays, giving pilots a tool to better determine how to navigate oncoming weather.

"The point is if we have GPS to monitor airplanes, could it save lives?" Boyd said. "The answer is clearly yes."
This is something I've wondered about too. Just how hard is it to put 10 GPS devices on the plane? Probably the more sturdy ones used by military. I'm not talking about a full replacement of the radar-based navigation system, but just a few GPS devices on the plane that'll simply send the aircraft location every 0.1 secs. Just what does it take to implement it anyway? We have wifi on the plane, surely it can send just 1kb worth of data every 0.1 secs that's stored on a 1 Mb harddisk from 1990. What exactly is it that is stopping the airlines from doing this? I can see no technological hurdle in it. The amount of data won't be much more than a single email that a passenger sends from an inflight wifi.

Also, why don't black boxes have an inflatable jacket and a water detector? As soon as the black box gets wet, the jacket should inflate. That'd add what, a couple of kgs and just marginally increase the size of the box.
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Old June 5th, 2009, 11:07 AM   #84
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I don't think the jacket can survive the severity of a crash environment ... unless they make it out of metal that cannot easily break.
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Old June 5th, 2009, 11:26 AM   #85
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Debris found in Atlantic not from missing Air France plane

Broken bits of wood spotted by Brazilian military jets could not have come from flight 447


A wooden pallet spotted by Brazilian military planes in the Atlantic ocean. Photograph: Johnson Barros/EPA

France's transportation minister today said French search teams have so far found no evidence of an Airbus A330 airplane that vanished over the Atlantic and are urging "extreme prudence" about suspected debris retrieved so far.

Dominique Bussereau said he regrets that an earlier announcement by Brazilian officials that they had recovered plane debris from Air France flight 447 turned out to be false.

He told RTL radio that the search must continue and stressed that the priority is finding the flight recorders or black box. The plane, which was en route to Paris from Rio de Janeiro, went down on Sunday night with 228 people on board, around four hours into the flight.

The Brazilian military said yesterday that it had pulled a cargo pallet from the water where the Airbus went down off Brazil's north-eastern coast, in the world's worst aviation disaster since 2001.

But General Ramon Cardoso Brazilian air force today said officials now know the find was not plane wreckage because Air France flight 447 was not carrying wooden pallets. He said ships searching the area have not yet recovered any plane debris from the sea.


As the search for plane wreckage continued today, Air France's chief executive, Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, told family members at a private meeting that the plane disintegrated, either in the air or when it slammed into the ocean, and there were no survivors, according to Guillaume Denoix de Saint-Marc, a grief counsellor who was asked by Paris prosecutors to help relatives.

With the crucial flight recorders still missing, investigators were relying heavily on the plane's automated messages to help reconstruct what happened as the jet flew through violent thunderstorms on Sunday.

The last message from the pilot was a manual signal at 11pm local time on Sunday, saying he was flying through an area of black, electrically-charged clouds with violent winds and lightning.

At 11:10pm, a series of problems began: the autopilot had disengaged, a key computer system switched to alternative power, and controls needed to keep the plane stable had been damaged. An alarm sounded indicating the deterioration of flight systems. Then, systems for monitoring air speed, altitude and direction failed. Controls over the main flight computer and wing spoilers failed as well.

At 11:14 pm, a final automatic message signalled loss of cabin pressure and complete electrical failure as the plane was breaking apart.

France's accident investigation agency established that the series of automatic messages gave conflicting signals about the plane's speed, and that the flight path went through dangerously stormy weather.

The agency warned against any "hasty interpretation or speculation" after the French newspaper Le Monde reported, without naming sources, that the Air France plane was flying too slowly before the disaster.

The paper said Airbus, the manufacturer of the plane, was about to issue recommendations advising companies using the A330 about optimal speeds for difficult weather conditions. Airbus did not comment on the report.




Aviation experts in Paris have suggested that the fact that a long slick of petrol had been found on the water would indicate that the plane broke up but did not explode in mid-flight.




The Spanish daily El Mundo reported that an Air Comet pilot flying from Lima to Madrid not far from the crash zone saw "an intense burst of white light" that seemed to drop down vertically and split into six. The French defence minister and the Pentagon have said there were no signs of terrorism.


The French armed forces spokesman, Christophe Prazuck, said: "Everyone has doubts about everything at the moment and we do not have the slightest beginnings of an answer yet."


Prazuck said the priority was to retrieve debris before it sank. He added that sea currents were dispersing the wreckage.


The Pourquoi Pas, a French sea research vessel, is heading to the search zone carrying manned and unmanned submarines, including one mini-sub used to explore the wreckage of the Titanic. But the vessel will not reach the area until 12 June.


The plane's flight recorders, which France has already acknowledged could prove impossible to find, emit signals for 30 days.

-guardian.co.uk
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Old June 5th, 2009, 11:41 AM   #86
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Sub that explored Titanic to aid Flight 447 search
4 June 2009

PARIS (AP) - A mini-submarine and a remote-controlled robot that explored the undersea wreckage of the Titanic are being sent to help find the flight recorders of Air France Flight 447.

France's marine research institute Ifremer said Thursday the ship Pourquoi Pas? (Why Not?) left the Azores on Tuesday and could take up to 10 days to reach the waters off the northeast coast of Brazil where military aircraft are searching for the remains of the plane.

On board is the Nautile submarine, capable of descending to 19,600 feet (6,000 meters) below sea level and the robot, known as Victor 6000.

Search teams have a month to locate the plane's black boxes -- cockpit voice and flight data recorders -- before they stop emitting signals. They could be scattered nearly anywhere across a vast undersea mountain range below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Nautile made multiple dives to the Titanic in 1987, 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1998 to explore the wreckage.

Still, the head of France's accident investigation agency, Paul-Louis Arslanian, has said he was "not optimistic" that officials would ever recover the black boxes from the plane. Flight 447 disappeared Sunday night en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris minutes after flying into a dangerous band of thunderstorms over the Atlantic Ocean.
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Old June 5th, 2009, 12:28 PM   #87
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Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
I don't think the jacket can survive the severity of a crash environment ... unless they make it out of metal that cannot easily break.
The jacket will have to be inside the titanium box (but in a separate compartment) that holds the recorder.
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Old June 5th, 2009, 02:12 PM   #88
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The jacket will have to be inside the titanium box (but in a separate compartment) that holds the recorder.

Human stupidity is beyond words. It always take a catastrophic crash to realize that some little things can be so helpful.

It took several crashes before it became standard to tell the passengers sitting next to an emergency exit how to open it. It took several crashes and atleast one in which passengers couldn't find the exit in thick smoke before floor exit lights became standard. It took the florida everglades crash before crew resource management became standard training....a simple burnt light bulb caused that crash.
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Old June 6th, 2009, 08:55 AM   #89
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mayb got miracle, nothing to prove that the plane had crashed zz
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Old June 6th, 2009, 09:34 AM   #90
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Then they would have located a wholly-intact plane in the ocean by now.
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Old June 6th, 2009, 10:45 AM   #91
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French sub joins frustrating search for jet crash debris
5 June 2009
Agence France Presse

An intense sea operation to find the remains of an Air France jet that plunged into the Atlantic this week was being bolstered after days of fruitless searching, officials said Friday.

A French nuclear submarine was on its way to the zone, 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) off Brazil's northeast coast, to help look for the black boxes from flight AF 447 which was lost Monday as it flew from Rio de Janeiro to Paris with 228 people on board.

Two more Brazilian navy vessels late Friday were also to join three others already in the area, which was being overflown by 12 Brazilian and French aircraft.

The head of air traffic control for the area, Brazilian Brigadier Ramon Cardoso, told reporters "we have not made any recovery of material."

Some items spotted floating in the vicinity were "not relevant," he said, adding that weather conditions were terrible, limiting visibility, and currents had changed direction.

Brazilian officials said items picked up Thursday turned out on closer inspection to be nothing more than trash, probably from ships.

But positive sightings in the waves of a seat from a plane and cables and other components on Tuesday and Wednesday convinced searchers they were in the right spot.

Cardoso said those objects might have since sunk to the bottom of the ocean, where the plane's black boxes are also believed to be.

Without clues from the wreckage or the data in the black boxes, speculation climbed over what caused the accident.

French Defense Minister Herve Morin told reporters in Paris he had not ruled out a terrorist attack on the plane, although he had not heard of any threats or claims of responsibility being made.

French Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau said "we must do everything we can to find the flight recorders" but admitted "time is against us."

Plane-maker Airbus had issued a notice warning crews on its aircraft worldwide what to do when speed indicators give conflicting read-outs, suggesting a link with data alerts sent by the ill-fated Air France plane shortly before it met its end.

According to David Learmont, editor in chief of Flight International, the decision to issue the warning does not mean that investigators know what happened, but that they had seen similar situations in the past.

"What Airbus is saying is, 'Whatever happened to these pilots, they didn't manage to handle it. We don't know everything that they faced but we know a little bit about the nature of the situation they faced'," he told AFP.

"So all they've done is that they've gone back to the airlines and the pilots and said: have a quick look at this, because it might save your life."

While the investigation cast about for clues, families of those on board the plane expressed frustration with the lack of physical evidence that their loved ones were gone forever.

A group of 10 Brazilian relatives were flown from Rio to the main search operations center in the Brazilian city of Recife on Friday to speak to a pilot involved in the search for the plane.

They left without speaking to media, and returned to Rio where another service was held in memory of the Air France passengers and crew.

Meanwhile, Rio's attorneys association blasted "harassment" of the relatives by Brazilian and foreign lawyers smelling a lucrative lawsuit in the tragedy.

Any Brazilian lawyer caught trying to sign up the grieving kin would be punished, it warned, while saying any foreign lawyer who had entered the country on a tourist visa and was trying to drum up business was breaking the law.

"A lawyer is not a vulture who goes after human pain," said the head of the association, Wadih Damous.

Also in Rio, police began collecting genetic samples from relatives of the passengers on the doomed flight in order to accelerate the identification process should any remains from the crash be found.
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Old June 6th, 2009, 11:06 AM   #92
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Air France to replace crash jet sensor
Jun 6 2009

AIR France gave a possible clue to their Brazil disaster last night by announcing they are replacing a vital instrument sensor on all Airbus jets.

Airbus said the move was part of the investigation into the crash that killed 228 people flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

A memo sent to pilots said Air France have been replacing the instruments - known as pitot tubes and responsible for feeding flying speed data to the aircraft's instruments and computers.

It said the task will be finished in "coming weeks".

One theory about the cause of the crash is that the pitot tubes may have iced over, giving incorrect information which then led to the plane flying too fast or slow in rough weather.

-dailyrecord.co.uk
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Old June 6th, 2009, 11:17 AM   #93
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Change black boxes, tracking devices or avoid storms? Experts mull over lessons from crash
5 June 2009

LONDON (AP) - The mysterious disappearance of an Air France jet this week while flying over the Atlantic in fierce thunderstorms is stirring a debate about whether new technologies and procedures are needed to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

Experts say it's going to be hard to build a better plane than the Airbus A330 that plunged into the ocean Sunday, killing all 228 aboard. But they see room for improvement in other technological areas that could help boost safety.

One idea is to move from radar to satellite surveillance systems that would allow air traffic controllers to track a plane's progress on flights across the ocean: currently, planes go out of radar range after 200 miles (320 kilometers) from land.

The Air France flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris disappeared nearly four hours after takeoff on Sunday night. It was Air France's deadliest plane crash and the world's worst commercial air accident since 2001.

Brazilian and French rescue teams have been scouring the area for the wreckage, but France's transportation minister said Friday that no traces of the plane have been found.

The plane's disappearance has prompted calls for the U.S. and other countries to hasten the move to GPS-based networks that would pinpoint planes and enable air traffic controllers to monitor them as they cross the ocean outside radar-range.

"It does seem a little disconcerting for the public who have not been familiar with the lack of surveillance in oceans," said Bill Voss, president and CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation in Virginia.

Nearly 70 percent of the world's airspace is not radar-controlled, and the existing radar system is likely to remain for at least another decade.

While some European and Asian countries are moving toward satellite systems, which would reduce travel times and fuel usage by helping the pilot find the most efficient route, a huge obstacle is expense. In the U.S., technology for such a system is being tested, but full implementation -- estimated at a cost of $35 billion -- has languished amid funding delays and disputes over technical complexities.

Some of the elements of these essentially GPS-controlled systems already exist, but they are not in widespread use.

Major carriers are already capable of using automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) technology, whereby the plane emits data that shows up in the screen of the controller. But the overall infrastructure is not yet in place to allow for its general use.

Voss believes that being able to better communicate with aircraft is more important from a safety point of view than surveillance.

Passengers may be able to use cell phones on a flight, but the pilot may be relaying information via VHF -- which has been standard in aviation for at least 60 years. When crossing oceans, pilots communicate with air traffic control if necessary via high frequency radio, which is prone to interference from sun spots and lightning, and which can be difficult to hear.

"This crash may put more pressure on international organizations to advance the use of satellite voice communications," -- technology that you would use when you hire a satellite phone to "go off to Antarctica or deepest darkest Africa," said Voss.

One key factor in figuring out what went wrong on Air France Flight 447 is finding the black boxes. But the flight data and cockpit voice recorders could be scattered nearly anywhere across a vast undersea mountain range, throwing retrieval efforts into doubt.

The situation has prompted debate about how to make black boxes more easily recoverable in the event of an ocean crash. Some experts say one solution currently being discussed in aviation circles is wiring the black box to make it stream data to help air traffic officials locate the box and the wreckage.

"The black box could be set up to send an immediate message that could give the parameters of the plane," in a similar way that Flight 447 put out a burst of automated messages detailing mechanical failures, said Michael Boyd, a Colorado-based airline analyst.

Or the black box could be configured to automatically send messages out every 10 minutes or so, he added. "I think we're going to go in that direction now."

But new black box technology may be held up by cost, the rarity of ocean crashes, and the aviation industry's culture.

A flight crashing over the sea is "very rare," said Boyd, noting that the last such accidents to happen were in the 1980s.

There has been no "imperative need" to change black boxes since there have been very few situations where they have not been found. "Most airline accidents happen on landing or takeoff. You always find a black box there," said Boyd.

Furthermore, "the aviation industry is extremely conservative in accepting new technology," according to Voss. "Part of that is because the accident rate is so good."

Chris Yates, Janes' aviation security editor, rules out black boxes that would float, saying the shell would have to be so flimsy that "in the event of a crash it would automatically break up and we would lose that data."

In the end, though, some experts believe the Air France crash was simply a case of a plane in an unequal fight against Mother Nature.

The Air France plane disappeared in a region that gives rise to some of the world's strongest storms. Winds from the northern and southern hemispheres clash in what is known to scientists as the Intertropical Convergence Zone, spawning violent thunderstorms that can tower up to 60,000 feet -- far higher than any commercial airliner could fly over.

European planemaker Airbus has sent an advisory to all operators of the A330 reminding them of how to handle the plane in conditions similar to those experienced by Flight 447.

Given that the plane was one of the safest around, is the answer to avoid this zone at certain times of the year?

"It's not possible, and nonsensical," said Yates. "In this day and age we live and breathe world commerce and if you shut a part of the world off from the availability of flights elsewhere for a period of time then you cause significant economic damage."

There were other airplanes that flew through the zone at the same time as the Air France flight, said Boyd, adding: "I think this situation will be very like killer waves. There are rogue waves that come out of nowhere and sink ships."

The Federal Aviation Administration's timeline for transitioning from a radar-based air traffic control system to a satellite-based system calls for the new technology to be fully phased in by 2020. Some lawmakers say it should be accomplished sooner. U.S. airline industry executives met with White House officials in April seeking $4 billion to help them pay for the equipment they'll need to install in cockpits. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he was optimistic they money would be forthcoming, but funds haven't yet materialized.
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Old June 6th, 2009, 01:01 PM   #94
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Crash jet autopilot 'not working'

The autopilot on the Air France flight which crashed in the Atlantic with five Britons on board was not working, investigators said.

All 228 people on board, including 12 crew, a baby and seven children, are thought to have perished in the world's worst aviation disaster since 2001.

Pre-crash signals from Flight 447, which went down en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris last Sunday, showed the autopilot was not working, French investigators said.

Paul-Louis Arslanian, the head of the French agency leading the crash investigation, said it was not clear if the autopilot had been switched off by the pilots or had stopped working because it received conflicting airspeed readings.

Alain Bouillard, leading the investigation, added: "We also saw messages that show the automatic pilot wasn't working."

Plane manufacturer Airbus said the probe found the flight received inconsistent readings from different instruments as it struggled in a massive thunderstorm.

Meteorologists said the Air France jet entered an unusual storm with 100mph updrafts that acted as a vacuum, sucking water up from the ocean.

The moist air rushed up to the plane's high altitude, where it quickly froze in minus-40 degree temperatures. The updrafts also would have created dangerous turbulence.

Investigators are searching a zone of several hundred square miles for the debris. Earlier reports that debris from the flight had been found in the Atlantic were wrong, French authorities have said.

Copyright © 2009 The Press Association. All rights reserved.
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Old June 6th, 2009, 01:03 PM   #95
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Air France orders vital components replaced on jets

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Air France gave a possible clue to the loss of its Flight 447 last night by announcing it was to replace a vital instrument sensor on all Airbus jets.


The memo was sent to all the airline's pilots, but the company refused to comment on it saying it was confidential.

Airbus said the move was part of the investigation into the crash that killed 228 people flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

The memo said Air France has been replacing the instruments - known as pitot tubes and responsible for feeding flying speed data to the aircraft's instruments and computers. It said it will finish the task in "coming weeks".

One theory of the crash is that the pitot tubes may have iced over, giving incorrect information which then led to the plane flying too fast or slow in rough weather.

If the instruments were wrong, the jet could have been travelling at the wrong speed as it hit turbulence from violent thunderstorms.

Airliners need to be flying at a precise speed when encountering violent weather, too fast and they run the risk of breaking apart. Too slow, and they could lose control.

Meanwhile the Airbus factory has sent an advisory to all operators of the A330 model reminding them of how to handle the plane in conditions similar to those experienced by Flight 447, which was an Airbus A330-200 version.

Meteorologists said the Air France jet entered an unusual storm with 100 mph updrafts that acted as a vacuum, sucking water up from the ocean. The moist air rushed up to the plane's high altitude, where it quickly froze in minus-40 degree temperatures. The updrafts also would have created dangerous turbulence.

The plane's computer systems ultimately failed, and the plane broke apart, probably in midair, and crashed into the Atlantic on a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

Earlier French transport minister Dominique Bussereau said reports that debris from Flight 447 had been found in the Atlantic were wrong.

He said he regretted that an announcement by Brazilian teams that they had found wreckage turned out to be false.

The Brazilian air force said yesterday that a helicopter plucked an cargo pallet from the sea that came the Airbus, but then said six hours later that it was not from the plane.

"French authorities have been saying for several days that we have to be extremely prudent," Mr Bussereau said. "Our planes and naval ships have seen nothing."

He said the search must continue and stressed that the priority was finding the flight recorders. The plane went down Sunday night with 228 people on board in the world's worst aviation disaster since 2001.

France's defence minister and the Pentagon have said there were no signs that terrorism was involved. Brazil's defence minister said the possibility was never considered.
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Old June 6th, 2009, 01:15 PM   #96
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Sounds like possible problems with the pitot-static system. This reminds me of the crash of Aeroperú Flight 603.

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Old June 6th, 2009, 05:55 PM   #97
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French investigation: Air France had not replaced airspeed instruments on plane that crashed
6 June 2009

PARIS (AP) - Air France had not acted on a recommendation to change airspeed-detecting instruments on Flight 447 before the plane crashed in turbulent weather, the French agency investigating the disaster said Saturday.

The French accident investigation agency, BEA, found the doomed plane received inconsistent airspeed readings by different instruments as it struggled in a massive thunderstorm on its flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris with 228 people aboard.

No debris from the aircraft has been found and without the aircraft's black box recorders, aviation investigators have little information to help them determine what caused the crash.

Airbus had recommended to all its airline customers that they replace speed-measuring instruments known as Pitot tubes on the A330, the model that crashed, said Paul-Louis Arslanian, the head of the agency.

"They hadn't yet been replaced" on the plane that crashed, said Alain Bouillard, head of the French investigation. Air France declined immediate comment.

Arslanian cautioned that it is too early to draw conclusions about the role of Pitot tubes in the crash, saying Airbus had made the recommendation for "a number of reasons."

Investigators are relying on 24 messages the plane sent automatically during the last minutes of the flight to try to locate the wreckage.

The signals show the plane's autopilot was not on, officials said, but it was not clear if the autopilot had been switched off by the pilots or had stopped working because it received conflicting airspeed readings.

In Brazil, visibility and weather conditions improved Saturday in the area searchers are focusing on but debris earlier spotted on the ocean's surface may have sunk by now.

"Debris doesn't indefinitely float, and when it sinks we will not have the means of finding them," Air Force Brig. Gen. Ramon Cardoso told reporters late Friday.

Earlier, Cardoso insisted that the debris spotted -- an airplane seat, a slick of kerosene and other pieces -- was from the plane. But he confirmed that Brazilian searchers had yet to recovered any of the material.

He said searchers did not pursue the reports of debris -- the first sighting was reported on Tuesday -- because priority was given to the hunt for survivors or the remains of victims.

Meanwhile, a German government-owned satellite spotted debris in the Atlantic on Wednesday, a German Aerospace Center spokesman said, but he added it was unclear whether the material came from the plane.

BEA chief Arslanian said the crash of Flight 447 does not mean similar plane models are unsafe, he said, adding that he told family members not to worry about flying.

"My sister and her son are going to take an A330 next week," he told a news conference at the agency's headquarters, near Paris.

He says planes can be flown safely "with damaged systems."

The flight disappeared nearly four hours after takeoff, killing all on board. It was Air France's deadliest plane crash and the world's worst commercial air accident since 2001.

The investigation is increasingly focused on whether external instruments may have iced over, confusing speed sensors and leading computers to set the plane's speed too fast or slow -- a potentially deadly mistake in severe turbulence.

An Air France memo to its pilots Friday about the crash said the airline is replacing the Pitot tubes on all its medium- and long-haul Airbus jets.

Pitot tubes protrude from the wing or fuselage of a plane and help measure the speed and angle of the flight, along with less vital information like outside air temperature.

They feed airspeed sensors and are heated to prevent icing.

A blocked or malfunctioning Pitot tube could cause an airspeed sensor to work incorrectly and cause the computer controlling the plane to accelerate or decelerate in a potentially dangerous fashion.

On Thursday, European plane maker Airbus sent an advisory to all operators of the A330 reminding them of how to handle the plane in conditions similar to those experienced by Flight 447.

Peter Goelz, a former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board, said that advisory and the Air France memo about replacing flight-speed instruments "certainly raises questions about whether the Pitot tubes, which are critical to the pilot's understanding of what's going on, were operating effectively."

But questions about speed sensors are only one of many factors investigators are considering. Automatic transmissions from the plane showed a chain of computer system failures that indicate the plane broke apart in midair.

President Barack Obama said at a news conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy Saturday that the United States had authorized all of the U.S. government's resources to help investigate the crash.

Arslanian said investigators are searching a zone of several hundred square miles (square kilometers) for the debris.

An intensive international effort so far has failed to recover any confirmed wreckage, and concern has grown about whether searchers were even looking in the right place.

It is vital to locate a beacon called a "pinger" that should be attached to the cockpit voice and data recorders, now presumed to be deep in the Atlantic, Arslanian said.

"We have no guarantee that the pinger is attached to the recorders," he said.

Holding up a pinger in the palm of his hand, he said: "This is what we are looking for in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean."

Investigators are trying to determine the location of the debris in the ocean based on the height and speed of the plane at the time the last message was received. Currents could also have scattered debris far along the ocean floor, he said.

"You see the complexity of the problem," he said.

Laurent Kerleguer, an engineer specialized in the ocean floor working with the investigation team, said the zone seen as the most likely site of the debris was 15,112 feet (4,606 meters) at its deepest point and 2,835 feet (864 meters) at its shallowest.

France is sending a submarine to the area to try to detect signals from the black boxes, said military spokesman Christophe Prazuck. The Emeraude will arrive next week, he said.

------

AP Writers Patrick McGroarty in Berlin and Bradley Brooks in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this report.
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Old June 6th, 2009, 05:56 PM   #98
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Airbus noted speed data problems before crash

PARIS, June 6 (Reuters) - Airbus had detected faulty speed readings on its A330 jets ahead of last week's crash of an Air France airliner, and had advised clients to replace a part, French air investigators said on Saturday.

But the head of France's air accident agency (BEA) said it was too soon to say if problems with speed sensors were in any way responsible for the disaster over the Atlantic Ocean, which cost the lives of all 228 passengers and crew.

"Some of the sensors (on the A330) were earmarked to be changed ... but that does not mean that without these replacement parts, the (Air France) plane would have been defective," said BEA chief Paul Louis Arslanian.

Airbus, maker of the A330 jet that crashed on Monday, also issued a second advisory late on Thursday that pilots should follow standard procedures -- to maintain flight speed and angle -- if they thought their speed indicators were faulty.

"Problems had been detected (on A330s) and we are studying them," said Arslanian, adding the plane was safe to fly.

Airbus said it had no immediate comment.

The Air France A330-200 was en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris when it suffered a rapid succession of technical problems after hitting heavy turbulence over the Atlantic.

Search crews have failed to recover any wreckage so far and French and Brazilian aircrews are scouring a stretch of ocean some 1,100 km (680 miles) northeast of Brazil's coast where experts believe the plane might have come down.

Arslanian said the doomed Air France plane sent a series of 24 automated messages between 0210 GMT and 0214 GMT indicatating a series of system failures before it vanished.

In the middle of this stream of data was one message showing inconsistent speed readings from the A330's sensors.

"You have a plane which transmitted a message, and it is not an exceptional or unheard of message, particulary on the A330, which detected incoherent speed readings," Arslanian said.

MOUNTAINOUS SEABED

Investigators are anxious to locate the plane's flight recorders to try and gleen more information on what went wrong, but are not optimistic that the black boxes will be retreived.

"This is what we are looking for in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean," Arslanian said, holding up a small, cylindrical canister which is attached to the flight recorders and designed to send homing signals for up to 30 days.

"We have absolutely no guarantee that it is still attached to the recorders. They can get detached," he said.

The search zone is a relatively uncharted patch of ocean which has deep ravines and a fine, muddy sediment.

France is sending a nuclear-powered submarine to try to locate the two flight recorders, which could be at a depth of anywhere between 864 and 4,000 metres (2,835-13,120 ft).

Shifting currents meant that in a worst case scenario searchers would have to be right above the beacon to hear it.

Aviation analysts have speculated that a combination of severe turbulence and mechanical problems caused the crash.

Meterological experts have said the plane did cross a storm zone, but that it did not pose an apparent threat.

"Nothing would indicate (that the plane) hit a storm mass of exceptional intensity," Alain Ratier, deputy head of Meteo France told a news conference on Saturday.
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Old June 6th, 2009, 05:56 PM   #99
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Air France crash relatives 'harassed' by lawyers
5 June 2009
Agence France Presse

Relatives of some of the 228 people lost on the Air France jet that plunged into the Atlantic this week are being "harassed" by lawyers smelling a lucrative lawsuit, the head of a Brazilian bar association said Friday.

Both Brazilian lawyers and foreign attorneys flying in on tourist visas were targeting the grieving families being cared for in a Rio de Janeiro hotel, Wadih Damous, president of the city's Order of Lawyers, said in a statement.

The relatives were "victims of harassment by some lawyers offering their services, creating great consternation," he said on his order's website, warning of reprisals.

"A lawyer is not a vulture who goes after human pain," he said.

Any Brazilian lawyer caught engaging in the practice, which went against his profession's ethical and disciplinary code, would be investigated "rigorously" and face punishment, he said.

Any foreign lawyers trying to drum up business while posing as tourists would be breaking the law, the statement said.
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Old June 6th, 2009, 08:50 PM   #100
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Brazilian Air Force: Bodies of Air France Flight 447 Passengers Found

Saturday, June 06, 2009
Fox News

DEVELOPING: The first bodies of passengers of the doomed Air France flight that plummeted into the sea have been found, Brazil's air force said Saturday.

The Brazilian military said search crews scanning the Atlantic Ocean located two male bodies of passengers aboard Flight 447 — which crashed midway through a trip from Rio de Janeiro to Paris before dawn Monday morning.

The crews also found debris, Brazilian air force spokesman Jorge Amaral told reporters in the northeastern Brazilian city of Recife.

Amaral said the bodies were recovered Saturday morning and were picked up roughly 400 miles northeast of the Fernando de Noronha islands off Brazil's northern coast.

A suitcase also was found containing a plane ticket for the flight, according to Amaral.

All 228 passengers and crew perished in the accident, which is believed to have occurred when the Airbus 330's systems failed during a violent storm about four hours into the flight. There were no survivors, officials said.

Earlier Saturday, the French accident investigation agency said that Air France had ignored a recommendation to change airspeed-detecting instruments on Flight 447 before the plane crashed in turbulent weather.

France's BEA concluded that the doomed plane received inconsistent airspeed readings by different instruments as it struggled in a massive thunderstorm.

Airbus had recommended to all its airline customers that they replace speed-measuring instruments known as Pitot tubes on the A330, the model that crashed, said Paul-Louis Arslanian, the head of the agency.

Investigators have been relying on 24 messages the plane sent automatically during the last minutes of the flight to try to locate the wreckage.

Without the aircraft's black box recorders, aviation officials have had little information to help them determine what caused the crash.

Earlier in the week, French investigators said debris reported to have been from Flight 447 was in fact not from the crashed Air France plane, despite Brazil's assertion that it was.

In Brazil, visibility and weather conditions improved Saturday in the area searchers are focusing on but debris earlier spotted on the ocean's surface may have sunk by now.

"Debris doesn't indefinitely float, and when it sinks we will not have the means of finding them," Air Force Brig. Gen. Ramon Cardoso told reporters late Friday.

Cardoso has insisted that the debris spotted — an airplane seat, a slick of kerosene and other pieces — was from the plane. But he confirmed that Brazilian searchers had yet to recovered any of the material.

He said searchers did not pursue the reports of debris — the first sighting was reported on Tuesday — because priority was given to the hunt for survivors or the remains of victims.

Meanwhile, a German government-owned satellite spotted debris in the Atlantic on Wednesday, a German Aerospace Center spokesman said, but he added it was unclear whether the material came from the plane.
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