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Air France A330-200 missing

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Air France A330-200 missing

Old 2nd Jun 2009, 22:06
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Originally Posted by protectthehornet
Does anyone know the exact level of turbulence reported by the flight some 14 minutes prior to the last transmission of data?

How did the crew report turbulence? Was there an ACARS message to company or a report to other aircraft?
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 22:19
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Lost in Saigon

I think the assumption would have to be that contact was made with AF via ACARS regarding severe turbulence at 0200 GMT as -

a) last contact by AF 447 with Brazilian ATC was at 0133 GMT,

b) no other a/c reported getting any comms from AF 447 that night, and

c) it is AF themselves who stated the captain reported the turbulence
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 22:44
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from BBC

Prime Minister Francois Fillon told the French parliament that the cause of the plane's loss had still to be established.
"Our only certainty is that the plane did not send out any distress call but regular automatic alerts for three minutes indicating the Failure of all systems ," he said.

This is the first I have seen saying all systems. Previous reports listed several faults, not all systems. Granted, he is not an engineer but he must have been briefed by such.
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 22:45
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The speculation now turns to the QF incident:

This is from the Sydney Morning Herald:

Meanwhile, Qantas dampened speculation that the aircraft's loss could have been caused by the same fault that caused a Qantas Airbus A330-300 destined for Perth to experience a sudden drop in altitude last year, injuring 74 passengers.

A Qantas spokesman said the company's engineers were monitoring developments in France and would act on any directive issued by Airbus or air safety authorities.

Full article hereSMH Air France Debris
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 23:03
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A few thoughts:

1) Could the poor weather conditions in the area be related to the lack of communication from the aircraft? How sensitive are aircraft communication systems to severe weather related interference, taking the location specific communication characteristics into consideration as well.

2) In the case of an aircraft entering severe and sudden / unexpected weather conditions, requiring full on and dedicated "lets keep this plane in the air" action, where does this place the action to report back to AF, both in terms of operating hierarchy as well as human nature?

3) Do we have any more information about the most recent maintenance / repairs carried out on the aircraft? Under this point, I am considering how repair work may have failed when exposed to severe turbulence.


Patrick (non pilot / aviation industry)
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 23:20
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It would appear that there is more information regarding the last 4 minutes of flight than has been discussed. I am not familiar with the systems of the Air Bus airplane, thus cannot comment with any authority on the alerts transmitted to AF maintenance. But I do have questions relative to them.

Taking each transmission on its own merit, what would likely have had to occur to trigger the first automatic ACARS alert.

Then, would each subsequent alert be a result, or a contributing factor, of a failure reported by the preceeding transmission.

Following the transmission trail and analysing the fault(s) should provide somewhat of a picture of the work load being placed on the crew, and the potential conditions which existed in the cockpit at the time.
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 23:25
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If you are in severe turbulance, you would be dealing with the situation not typing out an Acars report to inform your airline that you are in turbulance.
Note in severe turbulance you probably will not be able to read the flight displays.
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 23:30
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While you are considering sea currents...also add in winds that would scatter debris as well. As the break up (if that is what happened) occurred at a fairly high altitude then the lighter bits would drift much farther downwind than the more dense pieces. If there were thunderstorms about and strong vertical movement was involved it gets even far more complex to plot the dispersal pattern(s).

Add into this equation....the same effect as the wreckage settles to the sea bottom....and the debris field(s) that will generate. As the water is pushing 20,000 feet deep in that area....this is going to be a very difficult recovery operation and probably will not amount to much in percentage of wreckage being recovered.

Google a bit and read up on the research it took to discover the missing H-bombs from the B-52/KC-135 collision off the Spanish Coast many years ago.
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 23:45
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It was in my notes and in my brain but there was a disconnect. Failure in Primary Brain/Talk computer. Chalk it up to pilot error. (truth is I remembered light, moderate and severe but had forgotten about extreme and also wanted to check on the actual definitions. What we often call moderate in the States does not fit the definition)

So yes, I read the boards. And I may get toasted for using this and other boards as a resource but the paradox is that this board and a few others are where the real EXPERTS are. The second paradox is the constant railing against know-nothings in the media and that they would read the boards.

I have been very fortunate to have been in almost 100 different cockpits and flown with some really great aviators. I flew with Nick Warner at Toulouse on the 330 and 321 prior to the accident. My first focus is on Man Machine Environment and what we know. I try to stay away from spectacular speculation and stick with what we know as it develops.

But this thread, as others on accidents, is where the real knowledge lies. It can be like mining in that a lot of stuff has to be tossed out but I know that and that is why I read and participate this site.

And thanks for the critique. I can't get better if I am not shown where I failed.

Last edited by wileydog3; 2nd Jun 2009 at 23:56.
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 23:45
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Quick comment regarding CF on aircraft. On delivery of Harrier GR5 some 20 years ago, 2 flying in close formation for a photo shoot. One was struck by lightening, which conducted, exited and struck the other aircraft. Wings suffered de-lamination of CF, though both recovered successfully.
That's from memory - but its evidence of CF not being the worlds most lightening resilient material.
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 23:53
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In some way this accident remembers me the one with Austral Flight 2553, which encountered bad weather en route with Cumulonimbus clouds (reportedly topping at 15,000m) an outside air temperature of -59deg.
ASN Aircraft accident McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32 LV-WEG Nuevo Berlin

Extracted from Air France 447 - AFR447 - A detailed meteorological analysis - Satellite and weather data:
Tim Fantastic analisys you performed here. Let me just feed you a couple of thoughts. I'm a A310 pilot, and flown UN873 at night dozens of times, and deviations up to 80 nautical miles off track have been frequent. With tha A310 I don´t fly through any well shaped GREEN radar return at that altitude and in that area. Cb's are too tall in that area, and FL350 is well within the unacceptably active altitude, and will produce EXTREME turbulence (not severe), something aircraft structure can't cope with. The images you posted show an isolated cell right on UN873, between INTOL and the MCS, one that would probably favour a deviation of at least 25nm left of track. This deviation would put the aircraft facing the worse MCS zone, and would require further deviation. The thing that puzzles me is that such deviations would require ATC coordination, and even if unable to contact the control, pilots will broadcast their deviation on interpilot 123.45 frequency. How come in a fairly busy area as that one at that hour, no one heard about AF447 deviating, nor ATC, nor other pilots? This is very strange, you don't fly trough such a storm...

Last edited by agusaleale; 3rd Jun 2009 at 00:03.
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 00:28
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It is official, apparently ...

According to portuguese site "diario.iol.pt", that is quoting "Folha Online" (a brasilien newspaper), brasilien Defense Minister Nelson Jobim has officially announced that the debris found is indeed of AF's A332.

According to the cited source:
«Não há dúvida» de que os destroços localizados pela Força Aérea Brasileira a flutuarem no oceano Atlântico pertencem ao avião da Air France, que desapareceu na madrugada de domingo para segunda-feira, com 228 pessoas a bordo.
Jobim fez o anúncio numa conferência de imprensa, após visitar os familiares das vítimas num hotel do Rio de Janeiro, indicando que o Airbus A330 caiu em águas brasileiras.
Quick and dirty translation:
"There is no doubt" that the debris found floating in the Atlantic Ocean by the Brasilien Air Force belong to the AF's Aircraft gone missing during Sunday to Monday night with 228 souls on board.
The announcement was made in a press conference by Jobim, after paying a visit to the families of the victims at a Rio de Janeiro's hotel, and stating that the aircraft crashed on brasilien waters".
Here's the link to the portuguese site.
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 00:31
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no charge for the professional courtesy...we've spoken before...we even know that runway 23 at clt slopes downhill

you might want to google cumberland maryland B52 for the inflight breakup of a B52 back in 64.

you did mention that if all electrics were lost the plane would still be controllable...I hope you will expand on that here...and I mean all electrics....even the standby gyro not powered etc.
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 00:58
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Graybeard - Final Four Minutes of Reports

Active tracking Antenna's have been replaced by phase scanned microstrip patch arrays or similar for communication via the Inmarsat Satellite Network, and stub helical for LEO's such as Iridium and low speed Inmarsat.
So there is no need for any "tracking" or "pointing" of the antenna.
There are a multitude of data speeds offered, from 600bps up to 64kbps.

Air France may well have their own proprietary system for ACARS, but if using the Inmarsat System, then as you say, they will have been pretty much right below the AOR-E Satellite at 15 West (I believe the Aero service at this time is on the I-3 satellites not the newer I-4), so will have had a good "view" of the Satellite.

With the Satellite pretty much overhead, the signals would only be obscured if the antenna were to move out of its (pretty much) 150 degree (+/- 75) view of the sky. For those "Four Minutes" the aircraft (I'm presuming), could have been at any attitude just so long as the antenna's were within their field of view for the satellite.
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 01:23
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Taking each transmission on its own merit, what would likely have had to occur to trigger the first automatic ACARS alert. ...

I totally agree - reverse engineering a fault tree would be one of the few reasonable approaches to speculating about what has actually happened as opposed to seeing whether circumstances fit a particular external event...

So, if I recall correctly a/p disengage and alternate law are claimed to be the first messages, so using occam's razor, what could have triggered that?

On a parallel note, PRIM/SEC 1 are on the same DC bus, right?
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 01:41
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Lightning - history

I can find only one accident (PAA 707, 1963) in which a jet transport aircraft was brought down by lightning. Better tank vent design seems to have overcome this problem since that time.
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 01:58
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SAR Effort

Although the Brazil's Minister of Defence is claiming that the debris field found this afternoon contains the wreckage of AF447 (although I'll grant that it probably is), personally I feel his statement is rather premature. I would rather wait until Friday, by which time the first Brazilian Navy vessel will have reached the area, collected the first items and relayed to Airbus and AF the pertinent data. However, since politicians are politicians, I suppose that this is to be expected

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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 02:14
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In May 1976 Iranian Air Force B747-100 was hit by lightning with fatal consequences.

ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 747-131F 5-8104 Madrid
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 02:17
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pressure system controllers on this type get information from the ADIRU , could a malfunction on one of the ADIRU's lead to a decompression?
Remotely possible, but the outflow valves even if driven fully
open would not depressurize the cabin very rapidly as long as there
was bleed air and at least one pack operating.
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 02:22
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Catastrophic break up

I accept that speculation can be dangerous, but there is a great pool of knowledge on this forum, especially from experienced crew.
An overall look at the posts tends towards:
* A catastrophic lightning strike is beyond reality.
* Given the stress testing on A330 (and other) airframes, turbulence would have had to have been unprecedented to bring about a mid-air break up.
* The lack of pilot comms suggest sudden and total loss.
* The apparent size of the debris field tends to indicate a catastrophic break up at considerable altitude.
So do we not have an explosion here? Either by some bizarre confluence of events (aka the TWA Atlantic explosion some years ago), or by malice?
The fact no terror group has claimed responsibility does not rule out mental instability of an individual - either against themselves or against others.
I am very interested - and crew who fly there regularly would be able to tell us - in the level of pre-flight security, including baggage checking, in Rio.
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