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Few Clues To Air France Crash, More Bodies Found

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, June 08, 2009 10:49 AM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Airline Crash, Mass Transit, Explosion, Black Box Recorder

Brazilian Air Force has led the way to recovery of debris from Air France flight 447.
Brazilian Air Force recovery team, Courtesy Agencia Brasil 



IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ Brazilian Air Force crew of a C-130 Hercules searching for wreckage of Air France Flight # 447/ author: Agencia Brasil


17 Bodies Recovered

The recovery of Air France Flight 447 has now yielded 17 bodies but few clues as to why the jetliner, with 228 aboard, crashed in the Atlantic one week ago. 

The flight took off from Rio de Janiero, Brazil and was on its way to Paris when it disappeared from radar about 700 miles from the Brazilian coast. The exact location of the crash is still a mystery since ocean currents may have caused the debris and bodies to drift over the last seven days.

The bodies along with pieces of the wing section, luggage, and a leather briefcase that had a ticket inside for doomed flight, were found by the Brazilian military reports CNN.  All are important to the investigation and may contain clues to what happened to Flight 447, including whether there was an explosion onboard.

Brazilian military has joined forces with the French in the recovery effort. 

Altogether 14 aircraft, five Brazilian ships and one French frigate are involved. The U.S. Navy plans to contribute high-tech acoustic devices to try and find the flight data and cockpit voice recorders that should be sending out an emergency beacon deep in the water.

The U.S. device can detect beacons at a depth of up to 20,000 feet. The search area encompasses more than 77,000 square miles and depths of between 19,000 to 26,000 feet.  The recorders have a signal life of about 30 days.  

Leading Theories

For four minutes before the Air France flight crashed, it sent out 24 automated error messages, which may have indicated the plane was flying too fast or two slow through severe thunderstorms.  Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general for the government, tells CNN that is a “very long time”.   

A lightening strike should not be able to bring down a modern airline, according to a former Airbus pilot, speaking to CNN.

The Air France Airbus 330-200 had failed to have a recommended replacement part to equipment that monitors speed known as Pitot tubes.  Air France has not commented on why the replacements did not take place other than to say, in a statement, that the newer technology replacement was recommended in September 2007 but not mandatory.   

Launched in 1995, the Airbus 330-200 is well-regarded as safe and modern. There are currently 600 in service with 300 orders for the aircraft pending.  It has never had a commercial crash to date.

Safety Impovements

The Associated Press reports that ideas to improve safety may include moving from radar to GPS-based satellite surveillance that would allow precise tracking across the ocean. The Air France flight went out of radar tracking range after 200 miles from takeoff. 

While passengers can use cell phones on a flight, the pilot may be relaying information via high frequency radio. 

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

About 70 percent of the world’s airspace is not covered by radar, reports AP. Voss believes the crash may activate the push to satellite voice communications.

Recovering a black box data recorder from the ocean floor could be made easier if it was wired to stream data every 10 minutes or so and to make its recovery easier. 

A place crash over the sea is very rare the last recovery effort occurred in the 1980s.  More frequent are accidents upon landing or takeoff.  #

1 Comment

Anonymous User
Posted by Jason's Kidd
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 3:43 AM EST

I have a different take on the accident: It seems the seedy underground had good reason to bring this flight down (see this link):


But how could such a seedy type bring the A330 down? And without anyone finding out? Use an EMP device. The A330 jets are not designed to reject an Electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that exceeds those typically encountered in everyday life (lightning etc) – A NNEMP device that triggered in the baggage compartment would cause damaging voltage differentials in the power wiring that runs in trays along the baggage compartment. These would damage components in the low voltage power supplies in the avionic systems, some of which would fail immediately; others of which would fail in short order after the initial shock. This would explain the cascading electrical system failures.

Comments for this article are closed.

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