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Old June 6th, 2009, 09:08 PM   #101
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France sends nuclear sub to assist in hunt for missing Air France Flight 447

-ibtimes.co.in

By Staff Reporter
07 June 2009 @ 08:42 am ISTNext World Article Paris - The French government has intensified its efforts of finding the missing Air France Flight 447, by announcing Thursday that it has dispatched a nuclear submarine to help the search parties.


In this image dated April 2, 2008, released by French marine institute Ifremer, on Friday June 5, 2009, showing the manned submarine Nautileat an undisclosed location. The French government has intensified its efforts of finding the missing Air France Flight 447, by announcing Thursday that it has dispatched a nuclear submarine to help the search parties. (AP Photo)

Air France Flight 447, which went missing en route to Paris from Rio de Janeiro on Monday morning, with 228 people on board, is presumed to have crashed into the Atlantic Ocean after flying into a violent equatorial thunderstorm.

According to French Defense Minister Herve Morin, a French nuclear submarine was on its way to the search zone, 1000 km off Brazil's northeast coast of Recife, to help look for the black boxes from Flight AF 447.

The submarine, which contains surveillance equipment, will try to detect signals from the black boxes, said French military spokesman Major Christophe Prazuck.

While a research ship equipped with two non-nuclear mini submarines is already on its way to the scene, twelve planes, a helicopter and three navy ships are already sweeping the suspected crash zone, he said.

Both the mini submarines - one has a crew of three, the other is unmanned - can work at depths of up to 20,000 feet.

The search zone's average depth is estimated between 12,000-16,000 feet but has crevasses up to 24,000 feet deep, according to Brazilian and French oceanographers.
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Old June 6th, 2009, 09:12 PM   #102
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^ re bodies found:
I hope they got it right this time.....
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Old June 6th, 2009, 09:20 PM   #103
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Riddle of an air disaster
7 June 2009
Sunday Mail

Flight 447 should not have gone down, but it did. Airline pilot and columnist PATRICK SMITH asks if normally non-dangerous phenomena were to blame

LIGHTNING and turbulence. Did one or a combination of these cause the crash of Air France Flight 447 over the South Atlantic on Sunday evening? The evidence, scant as it is, suggests it might have.

I was asleep in my hotel room, here in the monstrous city of Sao Paulo, just south from Rio de Janeiro, when the phone rang early on Monday.

It was a reporter from the Associated Press in Brussels, shooting off questions about Airbuses and electrical storms. I had no idea that anything had happened, but he quickly had my rapt attention with word of a Paris-bound A330 that had gone missing after takeoff from Rio with 228 people on board. ``They are saying it was lightning,'' he told me.

I flicked on the television and tried to makes sense of CNN and the BBC as they stumbled through their coverage. The jet had encountered a violent storm, they were saying, off Brazil's northeast coast as it set off across the ocean towards Europe.

An automated status message, relayed to Air France's dispatch centre in Paris, spoke of electrical failure and a loss of cabin pressure. There was no mayday or distress call. The plane, and everybody on it, was missing.

Neither lightning nor turbulence is normally harmful to commercial aircraft. Let's take a minute to review each.

TURBULENCE

SPILLER of coffee, jostler of luggage, filler of barf bags, rattler of nerves. But is it a crasher of planes? Judging by the reactions of many airline passengers, one would assume so.

Not until I began writing this column for Salon.com, and fielding questions from the public, did I realise how upsetting, if you'll grant the pun, turbulence is for tens of thousands of travellers.

``Turbulence is the issue,'' says Tom Bunn, a retired captain and founder of the nation's most popular fearful flyer program, SOAR. ``It is far and away the No.1 concern among my clients.''

Intuitively this makes sense. There's not a more poignant reminder of flying's innate precariousness than a good walloping at 10,000m. It's easy to picture the airplane as a helpless dinghy caught unawares in a stormy sea.

Everything about it seems dangerous. Except that, in all but the rarest circumstances, it's not. For all intents and purposes, a plane cannot be flipped upside-down, thrown into a tailspin, or otherwise flung from the sky by even the mightiest gust or air pocket.

Conditions might be annoying and uncomfortable, but the plane is not going to crash.

Turbulence is a nuisance for everybody on the plane, including the crew. But it's also, for lack of a better term, normal.

When pilots change altitudes and routings to avoid bumps, this is by and large a comfort issue. The captain isn't worried about the wings falling off, he's trying to keep his customers as content and relaxed as possible.

The frightened passenger imagines the pilots in a sweaty lather: the captain barking orders as the ship lists from one side to another, hands tight on the wheel. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The crew is not wrestling with the beast so much as merely riding things out. Most of the time, pilots will sit back and allow the plane to buck and buffet rather than attempt to recover every lost foot or degree of heading. Indeed, many autopilot systems have a special ``turbulence'' mode.

Rather than increase the number of corrective inputs, it does the opposite, desensitising the system.

So that I'm not accused of sugarcoating, I freely concede that powerful turbulence has, on numerous occasions, resulted in damage or injury.

With respect to the latter, it is typically people who fell or were thrown about because they weren't belted in. But airplanes themselves are engineered to take a remarkable amount of punishment, including stress limit criteria for both positive and negative G-loads. The level of turbulence required to seriously damage a plane is something that even the most frequent flyer will not experience in a lifetime.

Around the globe each day, about five million people take to the air aboard 35,000 commercial departures. Yet over the past half-century, the number of airliners downed by turbulence can literally be counted on one hand, and almost always there were extenuating circumstances.

LIGHTNING

STRIKES by lightning are fairly common. An individual jet is hit about once every three years.

Regional aircraft, plying lower altitudes where there's a greater propensity for strikes, are hit about once a year. Putting that another way: about 26,000 commercial jetliners and turboprops are flying around the world. Assuming a given plane is struck once biennially, 35 planes are zapped every day. Seeing how there have been only one or two lightning-caused crashes in the past 50 years or so, it's pretty obvious that airplanes are constructed with the phenomenon in mind.

Aluminium is very good at helping a plane dissipate and shed lightning's energy, which can top 300,000 amps. Composite components, used with increasing frequency on newer aircraft, are not as effective, but damage tends to be limited to superficial, non-critical areas such as winglets, nose cones, etc.

But on those rare occasions when a strike does result in something more serious, more often than not it's an electrical issue. The electrical systems of modern jetliners are highly complex and also highly critical.

Taken in whole, the electrical system is arguably the most crucial system on board - a total electrical failure, for example, is about as dire an emergency as exists. But the typical system employs numerous backups and fail-safe redundancies, making electrical emergencies very unusual.

So there you have it. If nothing else, I have given you a sense of why Air France Flight 447 should not have crashed.

Except that it did.

And we are forced now to acknowledge that every so often, however seldom, normally non-dangerous phenomena turn out to be dangerous - even catastrophically so. The odds become higher when one or more of such phenomena are encountered simultaneously.

In and around thunderstorms, strong turbulence and lightning are both often present.

Reportedly, Flight 447 had flown through an area of thunderstorms just before disappearing. The plane was passing through the notorious ITCZ - the Intertropical Convergence Zone. Extending several degrees from either side of the equator, the ITCZ is known for unusually tall and intense storms.

Was a run-in with one of these storms the deadly culprit? Could be.

It's possible to imagine any number of storm-related scenarios. For example, an unusually potent lightning strike first knocks out the plane's primary instruments, perhaps interfering with its high-tech, fly-by-wire control system. While this shouldn't be deadly in itself, now the plane is caught in the throes of intense turbulence.

According to reports, the jet had sent an automatic status message indicating electrical problems and a loss of cabin pressure. Were these issues related? Was the pressure loss caused by turbulence-induced structural failure? What about hail? Hailstones spewed from large storms can be hazardous, cracking windows and damaging engines. We don't yet know, but believe me, no pilot relishes the thought of having to wrestle with a rapid depressurisation, significant electrical problems and a high-powered thunderstorm all at the same time.

Throw in control issues and any sort of structural failure, and prospects become very, very grim. Of course, how the plane got caught up in such a storm - if in fact it did - is itself a mystery.

Like all jetliners, the Airbus A330 has sophisticated on-board weather radar that makes it generally easy to avoid the worst weather. And storms in the ITCZ, for all their potential menace, tend to be isolated and easy to outmanoeuvre.

This time, something was different. How so? We might never know. One final note on the lack of survivors . . .

If the plane hit the water after partially breaking up, or when it was in any way out of control, the chances for survival would have been nil.

A ditching (water landing) seems unlikely, but that too would have presented little chance for a successful outcome. The exploits of Capt Chesley Sullenberger, perhaps the luckiest pilot in the world, left us spoiled. This was not the calmly flowing Hudson River in daylight. It was the storm-whipped open ocean, in darkness.
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Old June 6th, 2009, 09:22 PM   #104
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Atlantic scoured for clues of Air France flight's fate
6 June 2009
Agence France Presse

An international fleet of aircraft and ships resumed their search of the open Atlantic on Saturday in the hope of finding debris of an Air France jet that disappeared early this week with 228 people on board.

Better weekend weather conditions helped searchers as they tried to unravel the mystery of how Air France flight 447 vanished on route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

While some items were seen floating Friday, 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) off Brazil's coast, officials lamented they were "not relevant."

Days of terrible weather conditions -- with rain limiting the visibility and waves of up to 1.8 meters (six feet) -- have hampered the 12 aircraft and three navy vessels scouring the area of interest.

No debris has so far been recovered from the Air France Airbus A330, though Brazilian officials are certain floating items spotted in the zone since Tuesday come from the plane, including a seat and cables.

A French nuclear submarine was on its way to the zone, hoping its sophisticated sonar systems could locate the plane's black box, thought to be at the bottom of the ocean.

Brazil's air force on Thursday said relevant debris had been picked up by a navy helicopter, but on closer inspection it turned out those were nothing more than sea trash, probably from passing ships.
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Old June 7th, 2009, 06:13 AM   #105
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Brazil crews find 2 bodies from Air France flight
June 07, 2009 08:36 AM
Source: http://www.bernama.com.my/bernama/v5....php?id=416347

RECIFE, Brazil (Reuters) - Search crews found two male bodies on Saturday morning from the Air France flight that crashed into the Atlantic earlier this week, a Brazilian air force spokesman said.

The first bodies from the crash were found along with debris that came from the doomed flight, spokesman Jorge Amaral told reporters in the northeastern city of Recife.

"This morning at 8:14 a.m., we confirmed the rescue from the water of pieces and bodies that belonged to the Air France flight," Amaral said.

Among the debris retrieved on Saturday was a seat with a serial number that matched the missing flight, a rucksack, and a case with an Air France ticket inside, rescue officials said.

Brazil's air force has been scouring a swathe of the Atlantic about 680 miles northeast of Brazil's coast since Monday's crash, which killed all 228 people on board.

Several Brazilian navy ships have also arrived in the area, but fears have grown that many bodies sank or were devoured by sharks.

It was the the world's deadliest air disaster since 2001 and the worst in Air France's 75-year history.

© REUTERS 2009
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Old June 7th, 2009, 05:32 PM   #106
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Brazil recovers 3 more bodies near jet crash site
7 June 2009

RECIFE, Brazil (AP) - Three more bodies were found Sunday in the ocean near the spot where an Air France jet is believed to have crashed a week ago, bringing the total number of bodies plucked from the water to five, Brazil's military said.

Authorities also said pilots searching the mid-Atlantic also spotted an undetermined number of additional bodies from the air and are sending ships to recover them, said Navy Capt. Giucemar Tabosa Cardoso. All 228 people about the jet bound from Rio de Janeiro to Paris are presumed dead.

Air Force Col. Henry Munhoz said he could not immediately provide information on how many more bodies were spotted from the air. None of the bodies had documents with them to indicate their identities.

The bodies were found about 70 kilometers (45 miles) from the site where the jet sent out a burst of messages indicating it was experiencing a series of electric failures and losing cabin pressure.

Authorities also announced that searchers spotted two airplane seats and other debris with Air France's logo.

--------

Marco Sibaja reported from Recife and Alan Clendenning reported from Sao Paulo.
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Old June 7th, 2009, 05:33 PM   #107
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Airlines see Airbus A330 as safe plane - execs

June 7 (Reuters) - The Airbus A330 plane is a safe plane and a deadly crash in the Atlantic Ocean last week should be seen as an isolated accident, the chiefs of several major airlines told Reuters on Sunday. "It's a safe plane, it's a good plane," said Chew Choon Seng, chief executive of Singapore Airlines, which had orders for 16 A330-200s and for 33 other Airbus planes as of March.

"We should not jump to conclusions" ahead of the results of an investigation, he said in an interview on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association annual meeting in Kuala Lumpur.

An Air France A330-200 was en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris when it suffered a rapid succession of technical problems after hitting turbulence early last Monday and plunged into the Atlantic in the worst air disaster since 2001. All 228 people on board died.

Airbus has warned airline crews to follow standard procedures if they suspect speed indicators are faulty, suggesting that technical malfunction may have played a role in the Air France crash.

Airbus had detected faulty speed readings on its A330 jets ahead of last week's crash, and had advised clients to replace a part, French air investigators said on Saturday.

Korean Air, which operates three of the planes, said the aircraft was fine technically.

"It's a good aircraft. I believe it was an isolated case," Korean Air chief executive Cho Yang Ho told Reuters, adding he had no plans to ground the planes.

The crash comes at a bad time for airlines, already reeling from a combination of weak travel and cargo demand, worries over flu and rising oil prices.

India's Jet Airways, which has ambitious expansion plans with an order for five more A330-200s to add to the 12 already in its fleet, also said it was not concerned about the plane.

"It's very sad what's happened," said Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal.

Brazilian search crews on Saturday retrieved the first bodies from the crash site in the Atlantic.
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Old June 7th, 2009, 05:34 PM   #108
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Timeline of Airbus speed data problems

June 7 (Reuters) - Air France was at odds with Airbus over the right way to respond to iced-up sensors affecting airspeed readings at high altitude, a potential problem for investigation in the crash of an A330 jet last week, according to the airline.

Here is a timeline of the search for a solution as set out by Air France. Airbus was not immediately available to comment.

Meanwhile regulatory filings show that flawed airspeed readings were causing concern as early as 2001.

Sept. 2007

----------

According to Air France, Airbus recommends operators of its short/medium-range A320 family change speed sensors, known as pitot probes, due to malfunctions. The optional recommendation also applies to long-haul aircraft with the same sensors.

Air France applies the recommendation to those A320s that have experienced a problem, but not to its A330/340 fleet.

May 2008

--------

Air France notices temporary loss of airspeed data lasting several minutes during cruise on A330/340 jets due to icing.

Air France presses Airbus for a solution. According to the airline, Airbus says using the same sensors recommended for the smaller A320 would not solve the problems witnessed at cruise height and reiterates established operating procedures.

Q1 2009

-------

Laboratory tests show the new sensor could after all reduce the icing problem at high altitude, according to Air France. It says Airbus then proposes an in-flight test to verify this.

April 27

--------

Air France decides not to wait for the test and starts installing new sensors on its 16 A330s and 19 A340s.

June 1

------

Flight 447 disappears in the Atlantic during a storm.

June 4

------

Airbus says it has issued advisory reminding crews of the procedures to follow in the absence of reliable airspeed.

June 5

------

France's BEA says the investigation focuses on the storm and evidence of conflicting airspeed data but rules nothing out.

June 6

------

BEA says the A330 sent out 24 error messages including one on airspeed discrepancies simliar to incidents seen on related aircraft, but says it is too early to speculate on the cause.

Airbus confirms it had recommended changing A330 speed sensors before the crash but does not say whether this refers to the Sept. 2007 note mentioned by Air France. A spokesman says this was a performance upgrade, not a mandatory safety measure.

Air France announces it has accelerated the replacement programme. It does not say whether the crashed A330 had new sensors nor what proportionate of its fleet has been upgraded.
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Old June 7th, 2009, 11:09 PM   #109
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Ok, so we have pitot-static problems (iced pitot tubes perhaps) that gave erroneous airspeed indications and we know that the aircraft could've flown into what's called "coffin corner" (or "Q corner"), the altitude at which the stall speed is equal to the critical Mach number, and thus the aircraft either stalls or goes into a nose dive. We also know the aircraft experienced multiple failures, but it's unknown if they were the cause or the result of what happened to Flight 447.

Flying at night, in a thunderstorm with winds reaching 160 km/h, with iced pitot tubes, if you get into the coffin corner, the autopilot disengages and the prospects aren't good for you...

Just imagine getting erroneous or even conflicting airspeed reports flying at that high altitude (near the coffin corner). If you think you're stalling, when in fact you're not, you power up, thus getting close to the critical Mach no., and the aircraft nose dives. If you think you're flying at a too high speed (nearing the critical Mach no.), you power down, thus reducing your airspeed and stalling (falling from the sky).
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Old June 8th, 2009, 12:10 AM   #110
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Not that this is a reliable data source but I've played flight simulator before and had the aircraft fail due to "aircraft overstressed" when going too fast for too long. I'm not sure if there is some vibration or feeling the pilot gets when a plane built for subsonic speeds starts to reach the supersonic level.
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Old June 8th, 2009, 12:12 PM   #111
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Searchers find 17 bodies from Air France crash

By Alan Levin, USA TODAY


By Joedson Alves, AFP/Getty
Brazilians pray Sunday for the victims of Air France Flight 447 at the St. Camille de Lellis church in Brasilia. The flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris vanished over the Atlantic Ocean last week.


Searchers found 17 bodies in the Atlantic Ocean near where an Air France flight disappeared last week as new data suggested pilots could have been facing a cascade of competing warnings in the moments before the crash.
Teams recovered two bodies Saturday and 15 Sunday, Brazilian Air Force Col. Henry Munhoz said. Four of the bodies were men and four were women, he said, but rescue teams could not provide the others' genders.

Searchers are now certain they have found wreckage from the Airbus A330 carrying 228 people, all of whom are presumed dead. They have seen two airplane seats, a briefcase with a ticket from the flight, wing fragments and other items.

"We're sailing through a sea of debris," Brazilian Navy Capt. Giucemar Tabosa Cardoso said.

The flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashed — possibly breaking up in midair — after flying into storms near the equator between Brazil and Africa. Investigators have not determined the cause of the crash.

In an indication of what might have gone wrong, French investigators said that at least one of the jet's airspeed indicators had failed. The information came from data messages sent via satellite in the minutes before the crash, according to the BEA, the French agency investigating.

Similar failures, which could be triggered by ice that blocks the tube that measures airspeed, have caused several crashes in the past, according to accident data. In some cases, pilots received confusing simultaneous warnings that they were going too fast and too slow.

Ben Berman, an airline pilot who formerly investigated accidents at the National Transportation Safety Board, said pilots train for such emergencies. Even so, he said, contradictory messages could conceivably trick a pilot into speeding up so fast that a plane would begin breaking apart.

John Cox, a former airline pilot who works as an aviation safety consultant, said the pilots would have been facing a "very distracting and difficult situation" as they tried to diagnose the problem.

It's too early to say for sure that a faulty airspeed indicator caused the crash, but there have been several accidents and serious incidents triggered by similar problems, said Kevin Darcy, a consultant and former chief accident investigator for Boeing.

On Oct. 2, 1996, for example, an AeroPeru Boeing 757 crashed off the coast of Peru, killing all 70 people aboard, after the pilots became confused about their speed and altitude. Workers had taped over gauges used to measure air pressure, which prompted erroneous speed and altitude indications, investigators found.

Though it was triggered by an errant computer, not a malfunctioning airspeed indicator, an incident on Oct. 7 on a Qantas A330 caused the jet to briefly dive violently, according to Australian investigators.

Last week, Airbus sent a notice to carriers flying the A330, reminding them that pilots should not take drastic action in response to unexpected airspeed fluctuations, spokesman Clay McConnell said. Airbus, along with other manufacturers, recommends that pilots maintain level flight and keep power at normal settings in such cases.

Airbus had recently recommended that Air France and other airlines replace devices known as pitot tubes that calculate airspeed changes by measuring air pressure. The BEA said Air France had not completed the replacement.

Contributing: Associated Press
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Old June 8th, 2009, 02:00 PM   #112
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Air France press release :
Quote:
Update on anemometric sensors

Following the many questions which have appeared in the media on the issue of the Pitot probes in its fleet (the Pitot probe is one of the instrument which calculates the air speed of the aircraft), Air France wishes to make the following clarifications:

1) Malfunctions in the Pitot probes on the A 320 led the manufacturer to issue a recommendation in September 2007 to change the probes. This recommendation also applies to long-haul aircraft using the same probes and on which a very few incidents of a similar nature had occurred.

It should be noted that a recommendation from the manufacturer gives the operator total freedom to apply the corresponding guidelines fully, partially or not at all. Should flight safety be concerned, the manufacturer, together with the authorities, issues a mandatory service bulletin followed by an airworthiness directive (AD).

The recommendation to change the probes was implemented by Air France on its A320 fleet where this type of incident involving water ingress at low altitude had been observed. It was not implemented on the A340/330s as no such incidents had been noted.

2) Starting in May 2008 Air France experienced incidents involving a loss of airspeed data in flight, in cruise phase on A340s and A330s. These incidents were analysed with Airbus as resulting from pitot probe icing for a few minutes, after which the phenomenon disappeared. Discussions subsequently took place with the manufacturer. Air France asked for a solution which would reduce or eliminate the occurrence of these incidents. In response to these requests, the manufacturer indicated that the probe model recommended for the A320 was not designed to prevent such incidents which took place at high-altitude cruise levels, and reiterated the operational procedures well-known to the crews.

In the first quarter of 2009 laboratory tests suggested, however, that the new probe could represent a valuable improvement to reduce the incidence of high altitude airspeed discrepancy resulting from pitot probe icing, and an in service evaluation in real flight conditions was proposed by Airbus. Without waiting for the in service evaluation, Air France decided to replace all its probes and the programme was launched on 27 April 2009.

Without making any assumptions as to a possible link with the causes of the accident, Air France speeded up this programme and reminded its pilots of the current instructions issued by the manufacturer to cope with the potential loss of airspeed data.
http://alphasite.airfrance.com/en/s01/
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Old June 8th, 2009, 05:03 PM   #113
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A330 a reliable aircraft: Airbus
8 June 2009
Agence France Presse

The Airbus A330 is a "very reliable" plane, a senior company official said Monday, adding that it was too early to draw conclusions as to why an Air France jet crashed last week.

Air France flight AF 447 came down on June 1 with 228 people on board as it was flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris in the worst aviation accident since 2001.

Early suspicions are focusing on the plane's airspeed sensors, which appeared to have malfunctioned in the minutes before the catastrophe, according to some of 24 automatic data warnings sent by the plane.

But Airbus Chief Operating Officer John Leahy told Dow Jones Newswires: "It is way too early to speculate at this point."

Leahy, speaking on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the International Air Transport Association, said the plane has been flying for 15 years and is a "workhorse of the world transport industry."

"There are 600 (A330) aircraft flying today and with 400 aircraft in firm order backlog.... It is a very reliable aircraft," he said.
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Old June 8th, 2009, 08:06 PM   #114
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Air France tail found; US helps hunt black boxes
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Old June 9th, 2009, 09:20 AM   #115
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That picture is crazy.


Speaking of the A330 I have been on a US Airways A330 and it was a great flight.
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Old June 9th, 2009, 04:53 PM   #116
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Brazil flies bodies to mainland; Pilot union says suspect speed monitors are replaced
9 June 2009

RECIFE, Brazil (AP) - Two Brazilian helicopters took off Tuesday morning from the islands of Fernando de Noronha to pick up 16 bodies of Air France crash victims, as airline chiefs at a conference insisted the Airbus A330 was one of the safest planes in the world to fly.

The bodies of those on Flight 447 were being brought in by a Brazilian navy ship, then were being flown by helicopter to Fernando de Noronha and by plane to the northeastern coastal city of Recife, where experts will try to identify them.

At an industry conference in Kuala Lumpur, Emirates Airlines President Tim Clark said the Dubai-based company has a fleet of 29 A330-200 planes that have been flying since 1998.

"It is a very robust airplane. It has been flying for many years, clocking hundreds of millions of hours and there is absolutely no reason why there should be any question over this plane. It is one of the best flying today," he said.

In a video posted Monday on a Web site, Brazil's air force revealed that search crews had recovered the vertical stabilizer from the tail section of Flight 447 -- which could provide key clues as to why the airliner with 228 people on board went down in the Atlantic and where best to search for the black boxes.

The tail section includes the vertical stabilizer -- which keeps the plane's nose from swinging back and forth -- and the rudder, which controls the side-to-side motion of an aircraft. The data and voice recorders are also located in the fuselage near the tail.

Eight more bodies also were found, bringing the total recovered to 24, Air Force Col. Henry Munhoz said. The plane disappeared during a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on May 31 amid strong thunderstorms.

Peter Goelz, a former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board, said if experts can determine the identity of a body and know where that person was sitting, their injuries could offer clues into the crash.

The Air Force video showed the piece being tethered to a ship. The part had Air France's blue-and-red stripes, was still its original triangular shape and was not visibly burned.

William Waldock, who teaches air crash investigation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, said the damage he saw looks like a lateral fracture.

"That would reinforce the idea that the plane broke up in flight," he said. "If it hits intact, everything shatters in tiny pieces."

Crash theories being considered by investigators include the possibility that external speed monitors -- called Pitot tubes -- iced over and gave dangerously false readings to cockpit computers in a thunderstorm.

The L-shaped metal Pitot tubes jut from the wing or fuselage of a plane, and are heated to prevent icing. The pressure of air entering the tubes lets sensors measure the speed and angle of flight. An iced-over, blocked or malfunctioning Pitot tube could cause an airspeed sensor to fail, and lead the computer controlling the plane to accelerate or decelerate in a potentially dangerous fashion.

Eric Derivry, a spokesman for the SNPL union, the main union for Air France pilots, told France-Info radio that all jets taking off on Tuesday would be equipped with two of the new Pitot sensors.

A memo sent to Air France pilots by the Alter union Monday and obtained by The Associated Press urges them to refuse to fly unless at least two of the three Pitot sensors on each planes have been replaced.

An official with the Alter union, speaking on condition of anonymity because the memo was not publicly released, said there is a "strong presumption" among its pilot members that a Pitot problem precipitated the crash. The memo says the airline should have grounded all A330 and A340 jets pending the replacement, and warns of a "real risk of loss of control" due to Pitot problems.

Air France said it began replacing the Pitot tubes on the Airbus A330 model on April 27 after an improved version became available, and will finish the work in the "coming weeks." The monitors had not yet been replaced on the plane that crashed.

David Epstein, Qantas Airways General Manager for Government and Corporate Affairs, said two companies manufacture the Pitot monitors for the A330 planes -- France's Thales Group and Charlotte, North Carolina-based Goodrich Corp.

The Air France plane uses sensors made by Thales while Qantas uses those by Goodrich for its 28 A330 planes, he said.

Goelz said the faulty airspeed readings and the fact the vertical stabilizer was sheared from the jet could be related.

The Airbus A330-200 has a "rudder limiter" which constricts how much the rudder can move at high speeds. If it were to move too far while traveling fast, it could shear off and take the vertical stabilizer with it.

"If you had a wrong speed being fed to the computer by the Pitot tube, it might allow the rudder to over travel," Goelz said.

Asked if the rudder or stabilizer being sheared off could have brought the jet down, Goelz said: "Absolutely. You need a rudder. And you need the (rudder) limiter on there to make sure the rudder doesn't get torn off or cause havoc with the plane's aerodynamics."

The discoveries of debris and the bodies also are helping searchers narrow their hunt for the cockpit voice and flight data recorders, commonly known as the "black boxes," perhaps investigators' best hope of learning what happened to the flight.

The wreckage and the bodies were found roughly 400 miles (640 kilometers) northeast of the Fernando de Noronha islands off Brazil's northern coast, and about 45 miles (70 kilometers) from where the jet was last heard from.

Searchers must move quickly to find the recorders because acoustic beacons, or "pingers" on the boxes begin to fade 30 days after crashes.

Some high-tech help is on the way for investigators: two U.S. Navy devices capable of picking up the pingers to a depth of 20,000 feet (6,100 meters).

The listening devices are 5 feet (1.5 meters) long and weigh 70 pounds (32 kilos). One will be towed by a Brazilian ship, the other by a French vessel, slowly trawling in a grid pattern across the search area. The devices will be dropped into the ocean near the debris field by Thursday, Berges said.

The French nuclear attack submarine Emeraude, arriving later this week, also will try to find the acoustic pings, military spokesman Christophe Prazuck said.

France's defense minister and the Pentagon have said there were no signs that terrorism was involved in the crash.

------

Marco Sibaja reported from Recife and Bradley Brooks from Rio de Janeiro. AP Writers Alan Clendenning and Stan Lehman in Sao Paulo; Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur; and Cecile Brisson, Angela Charlton, Emma Vandore and Greg Keller in Paris, contributed to this report.
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Old June 9th, 2009, 05:53 PM   #117
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So are the bodies and the debris just floating in the sea or did they find them on the ocean floor?
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Old June 9th, 2009, 06:05 PM   #118
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They must've floated to the surface for rescuers to spot them I believe. Don't think the submarines can scan the sea floor so quickly.
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Old June 9th, 2009, 07:58 PM   #119
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Air France Wreckage, 28 Bodies Pulled From Atlantic (Update2)

By Helder Marinho and Laurence Frost
June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s military recovered pieces of an Air France plane that may indicate what caused the Airbus to plunge into the Atlantic Ocean last week, as a total of 28 bodies were pulled from the water.

A section of the plane with Air France’s traditional red- and-blue striped tail markings was among the items found by teams searching between 440 and 700 kilometers (270 and 435 miles) northwest of the Brazilian archipelago known as Sao Pedro and Sao Paulo. The piece will be officially confirmed by investigators when the identification numbers have been checked, an Air France spokesman said today.

“Hundreds of pieces of the crashed plane have been retrieved,” Brazilian Air Force Colonel Henry Munhoz told reporters yesterday.

A Brazilian Air Force helicopter today took the first eight bodies from Flight 447 to the island of Fernando de Noronha. Their arrival was televised by Globo News TV. Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization, will assist in coordinating efforts to identify the crash victims, the agency said today in an e-mailed statement.

Brazil’s Navy recovered four more bodies today, bringing the total to 28, Captain Giucemar Tabosa said in Recife today. The Airbus SAS A330-200 went down June 1 en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, carrying 216 passengers and 12 crewmembers. There were no survivors.

Black Boxes

French ships and submarines equipped with underwater listening devices are trying to locate the plane’s flight data recorders, known as black boxes, which may provide clues on what caused the crash.

While the pilot flew through storms during the nighttime flight, the weather encountered at the time of the crash was no worse than typical for that area, the French investigator said in a news conference June 6. All routes that involve crossing the tropics are known for frequent storms.

Investigators are examining whether ice damage or the obstruction of the plane’s airspeed sensors caused unreliable readings, which may have contributed to the disaster. Air France said it began replacing the component with a more ice-resistant version in late April, 18 months after Airbus advised customers to make the switch.

Alter, the Paris-based carrier’s third-largest pilots’ union, yesterday urged members to refuse to fly A330s until at least two of the three airspeed sensors on each plane have been upgraded.

Union Demands

In response to a meeting late yesterday between pilots and the airline, Air France pledged to ensure that all its flights involving A330s and A340s would be equipped with at least two of the newer speed sensors, effective today, according to a spokesman for the airline’s biggest pilot union, SNPL France ALPA.

“This may lead to some delays, or even cancellations” in a very small number of cases,’’ said a spokesman for that union, Erick Derivry.

Air France spokesman Nicolas Petteau declined to confirm Derivry’s comments about the change in sensors being effective starting today.

Accurate airspeed readings are crucial because flying too quickly can damage a plane’s airframe, while traveling too slowly produces an “aerodynamic stall” and loss of control.

Following the crash, Air France and Toulouse, France-based Airbus issued reminders to pilots of procedures to follow when measurements become unreliable.

Recommended in 2007

The plane maker recommended in September 2007 that airlines replace the Thales SA speed sensors, known as Pitot tubes, on single-aisle A320-series planes as well as the A330 and A340. Air France said June 6 it waited until April to begin installing the new sensors because it wasn’t until the beginning of this year that their high-altitude effectiveness for the A330 was demonstrated in laboratory tests.

US Airways Group Inc. began replacing the airspeed sensors on its A330s following the crash, “out of an abundance of caution,” said Morgan Durrant, a spokesman. Dublin-based Aer Lingus Group Plc is also “prioritizing modification” of two A330s carrying the older model of sensor, in response to the crash, Enda Corneille, a spokesman at the Irish airline, said in an e-mail.

Delta Air Lines Inc., the world’s biggest carrier, said it is upgrading its Airbus A330s under plans made before the Air France crash, without disclosing how many of the planes have already received the new parts.

Caroline Philips, a spokeswoman for Neuilly-sur-Seine, France-based Thales, said the manufacturer had no comment while the investigation is under way.

-bloomberg.com
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Old June 9th, 2009, 08:01 PM   #120
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Interpol to help identify AF 447 crash victims
9 June 2009
Agence France Presse

The global police agency Interpol will help French and Brazilian officials identify victims of the crash of Air France flight 447, the organisation said Tuesday.

More than 228 people were lost when the Airbus A330 long-haul jet suddenly and mysteriously plunged into the Atlantic Ocean of June 1, and so far only 24 bodies have been recovered from the remote waters.

"Since the victims of this tragedy came from all parts of the globe, international collaboration will be essential in ensuring their accurate, dignified and speedy recovery and identification so as to enable the families to begin the healing process," said Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble.

A statement from the agency said an Interpol officer would be attached to a French gendarmerie unit from Paris charged with identifying the victims using their DNA, fingerprints, medical records, tattoos and other clues.
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