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Remains of Airliner Found Off Brazilian Coast

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, June 02, 2009 10:28 AM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical
Tags: Airline Crashes, Mass Transit, Auir France, Airbus 330, Flight Turbulence

Mike and Anne Harris were onboard the Rio to Paris flight that disappeared after takeoff.

Debris sited

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 IMAGE SOURCE:  CNN Web page/ image of Michael and Anne Harris aboard flight from Rio to Paris

 

Remains of an airplane have been spotted in the sea near where Air France Flight 447 is believed to have disappeared Sunday night on a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. 

Brazil’s Air Force reports there is very little material given the size of the plane with 228 people on board. Radar found metallic material and oil and an airplane seat were spotted in an area about 400 miles northwest of Fernando de Noronha.

A report came in Monday morning from another Paris-Rio flight of glowing spots on the ocean, possibly fire.  No people have been found. 

Among those on board were Americans Michael Harris, 60, and his wife, Anne, 54. He worked as a geologist for Devon Energy in Rio de Janeiro. The couple was on their way to Paris for training and a vacation, reports CNN. 

The Air France A330 last made radio contact Sunday night saying they were leaving Brazilian airspace after more than three hours into the flight.  Around 11 p.m., the plane encountered strong turbulence and automated maintenance signals were sent to Air France headquarters indicating a failure of electrical components and an air pressure problem.

The Airbus A330 has a strong safety record and this is the first crash of one in commercial service. 

The pilot had logged 11,000 hours in flight, including 1,700 on two Airbus models, reports CNN.

Can Planes Be Hit By Lightning? 

The plane was traveling at a cruising altitude of about 35,000 feet, which is generally considered the safest part of any flight. 

Air France Chief Executive Pierre-Henri Gourgeon tells the Wall Street Journal that the crew was very experienced but a loss of pressure could have incapacitated the crew and caused structural damage.   Lightning can damage an aircraft, though that is highly unusual since jetliners encounter storms routinely.

WSJ reports that experts are concerned that automated flight controls sent from an onboard computer throughout the plane (fly-by-wire) might have been disabled by the electrical storm.

The A330 has several back-ups and even a wind-powered generator to allow radio transmission and basic controls which would still allow it to fly without the fly-by-wire system.   

The area the plane went down was technically outside of Brazilian radar which could have warned of storm areas. The crash is likely to renew calls for installing weather radar on planes to give pilots an idea of what areas have turbulent lightning and winds. 

The location of the crash is known as the Intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) where maritime winds, rain and electric storms meet and can rise up to an altitude of 52,000 feet, above what commercial airlines fly. 

Planes fly through the ITCZ every day and are designed to absorb turbulence, reports CNN.  #


8 Comments

Anonymous User
Posted by M. Sinkultawongrit
Tuesday, June 02, 2009 1:51 PM EST

I am fairly certain that pretty much all commercial aircraft owned by companies HQed in developed countries are equipped with on board weather radar. There may be some confusion on the part of the author regarding calls for GPS systems (to eventually replace the antiquated traffic control systems currently in use). The author may have confused that issue with weather radar. However on board weather radar has been standard for a number of years.

Note - the signals sent out automatically by the plane just before it failed completely are a game changer. Something happened quickly, too quickly for the crew to react or send out a mayday call on the radio. Structural failure, explosion, fire, mid air collision, etc.

Anonymous User
Posted by Jerry Thorpe
Tuesday, June 02, 2009 5:59 PM EST

Makes me scared to fly.

Anonymous User
Posted by Jerry Thorpe
Tuesday, June 02, 2009 5:59 PM EST

Makes me scared to fly.

Anonymous User
Posted by kimberly
Thursday, June 04, 2009 10:40 AM EST

you are in more danger driving a car than on a plane. You should be scared to drive not fly.

Anonymous User
Posted by M. Sinkultawongrit
Thursday, June 04, 2009 1:31 PM EST

Another potential game changer. A Spanish pilot who was flying in the area has reported seeing a "bright white flash" (ordnance?) followed by "descending amber coloured glowing debris" (some but not all of the kerosene burning on the surface of many fragments of the plane?). There were similar reports by pilots and military personnel who were in the area near TWA800 off of Long Island.

Anonymous User
Posted by M. Sinkutawongrit
Friday, June 05, 2009 3:34 AM EST

Now they are back peddling. Now they say, the debris found thus far is random flotsam. If that be the case, and the plane's actual debris is thus far not found, I say, it was a bomb.

Anonymous User
Posted by M. Sinkutawongrit
Friday, June 05, 2009 3:34 AM EST

Now they are back peddling. Now they say, the debris found thus far is random flotsam. If that be the case, and the plane's actual debris is thus far not found, I say, it was a bomb.

Anonymous User
Posted by M. Sinkutawongrit
Friday, June 05, 2009 3:35 AM EST

Now they are back peddling. Now they say, the debris found thus far is random flotsam. If that be the case, and the plane's actual debris is thus far not found, I say, it was a bomb.

Comments for this article are closed.

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