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Air France A330-200 missing

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Air France A330-200 missing

Old 2nd Jun 2009, 00:50
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Originally Posted by Fly2High
Good write up...

What happened to Flight 447? | U.S. | Reuters

A fair amalgam of all the info available, other than incorrect information about the plane's maintenance record (it's wing clipped an A320's tail on the ground a while back), and the conclusion about constant telemetry being a shaky if not flawed idea.
It seemed to be a pretty good write up intil I read this bit of wisdom:

But consider this possibility: most Captains on long hauls over the pond prefer to be on the flight deck for take-off and landing. Was the most seasoned aviator in his bunk when the weather hit the fans?
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 00:51
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Odd ...

There's something that doesn't quite compute here ... 4 minute long communication via ACARS, yet over that the same 4 minutes no PAN or Mayday on either 121.5 or 123.45. It's clear you navigate before you communicate, but 4 minutes do sound quite long.

Also - due to the altitude where the initiating event took place (FL350 from what I've read) the debris should be scattered in a rather large area if it would be turbulence and structural break-up (and those 4 minutes of ACARS messages speak hightly against turbulence and immediate structural breakup). Loss of control and structural break-up either at a lower altitude or upon impact sound more likely.

Disclaimer: not a pilot, just an enthusiast working where I need to use logic and deduction.
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 00:53
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Agreed, im sure with those conditions, the bunk would be the last thing on his mind!
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 00:53
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No, my friend, Airbus doesn't know what happened on this flight but it was conveniently blamed on the copilot because he was there and had a lot less money to sue then Airbus. It is just the way it works. Just convince the public.
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 00:53
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These people may be able to handle a deep search.

Oceaneering International; Inc.
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 00:55
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Reuters latest

Doubts over lightning's role in missing jetliner

Brazil said Monday's aircraft last made radar contact at 0133 GMT after passing the Fernando de Noronha islands off its northern coast, about 250 miles (400 km) south of the equator.

It was heading towards a notorious stormy patch that shifts around the equator known as the Intertropical Convergence Zone.

It had been preceded safely on the same track 30 minutes earlier by a Boeing 747-400 heading to Frankfurt for Lufthansa, according to a source with access to data transmitted from jetliners for the World Meteorological Organisation.

Two hours later an MD-11 cargo plane also flown by Lufthansa passed just south of the same spot on the way to West Africa, the source told Reuters, asking not to be identified.

Neither aircraft reported any anomaly.
"You can't tie it down to lightning with the information we have; for me it's a red herring," said the source, who specialises in aviation weather. Lufthansa declined comment.


An Air France captain operating on long-range routes, who agreed to speak to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said lightning alone was unlikely to have caused the presumed crash.

"I would not think it was possible that lightning could lead to a short-circuit and disrupt all of the plane's electrical systems. Test planes have resisted some 30 lightning strikes and nothing ever happened," the pilot said.

More likely, he said, is that the jet might have suffered an electrical system failure which would have turned off its radars and communications systems, turning it blind and making it more vulnerable to storms and strong lateral air currents.
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 00:56
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Prima facie, a constant stream of telemetry is not a bad idea, but I imagine the practicalities (and I know nothing whatsoever about it!) would consign this to the "too hard" basket?
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 01:12
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This accident made me think about the A330 incident in Oct 2008...

"The Airbus A330-300 was flying from Singapore to Perth when it suddenly plunged thousands of feet, leaving more than 50 people injured.

A computer malfunction involving the auto-pilot system was blamed for the incident"

Is there any possibility that something similar to this has happened too?
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 01:14
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Whatever tragic events occurred--no question it happened fast--probably instantaneously. With almost instantaneous communications capability via SATCOM and ACARS available on this aircraft, the fact that (as far as we know) AF Paris flight dispatch heard nothing from the crew themselves prior to the event suggests whatever the issue, things deteriorated very quickly...so quickly that the crew could not contact/advise CDG dispatch...it takes no more than a few seconds to hit the CDU and send dispatch a msg via ACARS.

One thing that comes to my mind with this tragedy is the Qantas A330 events in the past months, where the ADIRU apparantly cause very sudden/abrupt flight control movements. The one flight that landed in Exmouth suffered alot of airframe damage as a result of the sudden movements. Although some suggestions point to possible naval radio interference on that incident.
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 01:22
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This is a very disturbing situation, as the a330 has a good safety record, although the QF incident comes to mind, and with a violent pitch change at high speed in what has been said severe turbulence could likely result in structural failure. Given the little facts at this stage perhaps it`s hard to even speculate, but a cockpit/electrical fire is also a possibility
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 01:27
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Even though it is very rear, lightning can cause an onboard fire!!!
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 01:27
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We have around 10 automatic technical messages sent via satellite from the aircraft to the Air France maintenance center. All these messages relate to some sort of deterioration or failure regarding the avionics and electrical circuits. The duration of this event is about 4 minutes.

Engineers at Air France in my view already have a lot of information in terms of events with these messages.

Air France CEO, Pierre-Henri Gourgeon states that the above messages denote "a situation totally unexpected, totally unprecedented in the air and a great difficulty."
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 01:34
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PS: Just a thought: doesnt the Karnivore system from CIA scans for these frequencies?
Carnivore was an e-mail scanning system.

American electronic signals intelligence in space is operated by the National Reconnaissance Office. Their satellites, currently the MENTOR series, are extremely capable of detecting and recording radio traffic.

However, if the only transmissions sent from the aircraft were the ACARS bulletins already received in Paris, which seems probable, that would mean the satellite would not be able to provide any new information.
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 01:48
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While lightning strikes are common, most of them occur near the freezing level, and not at flight level altitudes.

Lightning has a mind of its own, and for example will hit wiring in the wing root, as well as the fairing and the fuselage-wing spar joint.

Yes, weather radar is primarily a rainfall detector, and ice is a poor reflector of radar energy. That's why any radar return at flight levels has to be taken seriously. Modern Wx radars are equipped with doppler shift detection, which shows areas of turbulence, if there is the least amount of aerosols to reflect. It will not detect turbulence in clear air.

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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 01:49
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Ive flown on this route, Brazil/Paris Charles de Gaulle/Brazil, for ten years, with the A330-200 as a captain. Comunications within this area specially on the boundary between Atlantico and Dakar Centers, and specially with this last one, are very very difficult. And the worst nightmare possible in this route is an airplane coming down in the middle of the atlantic ocean, the area where its believed to be this aircraft. The logistic to do, and to complete the rescue, I believe will take a few days or even weeks.
My opinion is that something very serious happened, concerning the integrity of the structure of the aircraft, and or of the crew, and the thunderstorms may be just a contribuiting factor, for this tragedy. For sure, everything that could have being done, was done by this crew
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 02:07
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Qantas A330

Previous post had:
Air France CEO, Pierre-Henri Gourgeon states that the above messages denote "a situation totally unexpected, totally unprecedented in the air and a great difficulty."
This is so like the situation with that Singapore-Perth A330 QF flight and the auto-pilot malfunction leading to steep uncontrolled climb then steep descent. Subsequent emergency landing revealed stresses. Computer systems failure seems to be to blame. You have to wonder if this is a similar, mysterious occurence. The full interim report makes fascinating reading.

Last edited by stebern; 2nd Jun 2009 at 02:27.
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 02:11
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MD-11 and 747-400

{Heavy} Lightning could be the issue with the missing airbus.
Both airplanes crossing the same area earlier and later (MD-11 & 747-400 see previous post)
have less CF in their structure and surface area. Energy will flow in all directions and are likely
to cause less damage. US Navy had freak incidents while testing CF wings years ago.
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 02:41
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In-flight upset A330-303 VH-QPA, 7 October 2008

The Airbus A330-300 was flying from Singapore to Perth when it suddenly plunged thousands of feet, leaving more than 50 people injured.
Thousands of feet? Absolutely not. From the Australian Transport Safety Bureau Interim Factual Report:
At 0932 local time (0132 UTC) on 7 October 2008, an Airbus A330-303 aircraft, registered VH-QPA, departed Singapore on a scheduled passenger transport service to Perth, Australia. On board the aircraft (operating as flight number QF72) were 303 passengers, nine cabin crew and three flight crew. At 1240:28, while the aircraft was cruising at 37,000 ft, the autopilot disconnected. From about the same time there were various aircraft system failure indications. At 1242:27, while the crew was evaluating the situation, the aircraft abruptly pitched nose-down. The aircraft reached a maximum pitch angle of about 8.4 degrees nose-down, and descended 650 ft during the event. After returning the aircraft to 37,000 ft, the crew commenced actions to deal with multiple failure messages. At 1245:08, the aircraft commenced a second uncommanded pitch-down event. The aircraft reached a maximum pitch angle of about 3.5 degrees nose-down, and descended about 400 ft during this second event.
At 1249, the crew made a PAN urgency broadcast to air traffic control, and requested a clearance to divert to and track direct to Learmonth. At 1254, after receiving advice from the cabin of several serious injuries, the crew declared a MAYDAY. The aircraft subsequently landed at Learmonth at 1350.
One flight attendant and 11 passengers were seriously injured and many others experienced less serious injuries. Most of the injuries involved passengers who were seated without their seatbelts fastened or were standing. As there were serious injuries, the occurrence constituted an accident. [...]
Two other occurrences have been identified involving similar anomalous ADIRU behaviour, but in neither case was there an in-flight upset.
Peak g loads during the upset were +1.56 g and -0.80 g. Subsequent examination revealed no structural damage to the aircraft. It is possible that a similar ADIRU problem could result in a substantially more difficult upset that the crew were unable to recover, although following the accident discussed here, Arbus sent out Operations Engineering Bulletins to all operators with potentially affected aircraft, detailing what to do if the problem occurred.
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 02:45
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@ stebern
Thanks for sharing, seems interesting.
On QF72 the events do not seem to have an external cause though.
With AF447, the aircraft entered an area of severe turbulence around 2:00am GMT. 14 to 15 minutes later we have this 4-minute interval of technical bulletin transmission, all dealing with malfunctions and/or failures, especially electrical.
We have all reason to believe that, in between, there has been at least one external cause that may have contributed to alterate the flight integrity.
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 03:17
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Originally Posted by Rigid Rotor
I wonder whether the ELT signals will ever be picked up from the ocean's depth? Perhaps it would be a good idea for ELTs in the future to also have an automatic flotation device so that at least the crash area over a water body can be localised.
Like this for example?

Automatic/Portable ELT with float free capability
That seems to be a marine one, I think, but I seem to recall reading of at least one air version with similar capability. The difficulty being to assure it'll be able to float out of what might be a seriously compromised structure. Also, in the event of a break-up midair, I'm not sure an ELT would necessarily survive the fall from x thousand feet and still be float-capable.


OK, here's an Aviation ELT of type AD - Automatic Deployable

The CPI-406 121.5 MHz/406 MHz Deployable Emergency Locator Transmitte(ELT) system .....The electronics are packaged within a crash survivable Beacon Airfoil Unit (BAU) that is qualified and certified to CAA, TCA and FAA standards.

The BAU separates from the aircraft at the onset of an incident, thereby escaping the devastating effects of the crash. .... In addition, the BAU floats indefinitely, providing superior survivability and localization for both aircraft and crew should the crash occur over water.
Now that's a helicopter version, but I'm sure there are fixed wing types too.

Last edited by Mad (Flt) Scientist; 2nd Jun 2009 at 03:27.
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