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Air France A330-200 missing

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Air France A330-200 missing

Old 3rd Jun 2009, 02:49
  #621 (permalink)  
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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.
IIAF B747 Spain comes to mind and I'm sure that IGH will have a page full of details on others

however you comment about better tank design and add in grounding of joints, flash arrestors etc. has made this cause even scarcer since these very old reports.
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 02:51
  #622 (permalink)  
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Good info on violent thunderstorms and where they form:

NASA Satellite Finds The World's Most Intense Thunderstorms
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 04:10
  #623 (permalink)  
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I'm curious if we have any type of confirmation that the 1st automatic report was in fact the AP disconnect and the shift to alternate logic? If so based on my limited understanding that would indicate that an upset of some type preceded the following cascade of electrical and system failure warnings. If the initial domino in the chain had been a lightening strike (positive or standard) wouldn't the electrical warnings be either 1st or in close sequence?

It appears that the initial upset was 1-3 minutes prior to the burst of follow up system failure warnings. Has AF clarified or released the order, "time stamp" and content of the warnings as of yet?
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 04:20
  #624 (permalink)  
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rudder...one more time please

capn bloggs

it would have been so simple to just answer the question. I had read the previous posts and am confused.

It would seem SOME airbus 330/200 series planes have mechanical links via hydraulics to the rudder

and that latter models have electrical controls of the rudder without mechanical links.

But electrical controls are different than electronic controls...at least in my world and understanding of the words.

So, someone other than capn bloggs, would you please clue me in?

Electrical implies no computer, but electrical control.

It may also interest some to know that the Airbus 330/300 has a smaller rudder and vertical stabilizer than the A330/200
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 04:30
  #625 (permalink)  
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PaleBlueDot wrote . . . .
This is completely unacceptable! Whole two days has passed and they still do not know for sure even where the plane actually is. The year is 2009. I have seen refrigerators with non-stop Internet connection. And here we have 216 people sent in the middle of nowhere without even reliable and constant positioning reports. I really think that, after this, all us had to put some public pressure to make continuous satellite flight tracking mandatory. When I suggested simple and autonomous external GPS device that would not require extensive aircraft design changes, I was not aware that cheap devices exactly like that already exist. For example:
This is what has really surprised me the most out of all this tragedy. I flew helicopters for a bottom feeder company in the Gulf of Mexico, 5 seat, 400K USD crappy helicopters, BUT these helicopters had a Blue Sky Network tracking via Iridium satelites, and the company knew my position almost every minute! They had a girls sitting in a room looking at a computer screen looking at all the aircraft moving around all the time, and if I had a problem, all I had to do was to push a yellow button and her screen would turn red and my position be updated every few seconds.

I find it incredible that AirFrance didint know exactly where they lost contact with the plane, I heard several times that there were searching this huge 1000 mile radius area!! That is absurd from my point of view, how can a company operating a 20 year old 5 person helicopter know where there helicopter is at all times, and AF not know EXACTLY where they lost contact with their 200+ person plane!!!???
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 04:45
  #626 (permalink)  
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Sorry if this is a repeat, but to answer Valkyrie

Someone asked this and I didn't see an answer, does the AF A330-200 have the same make/version ADIRU as the QF A330-300?
According to Steve Creedy in this morning's Australian, the make on AF is different to that used by QF. I believe he said this was from a 'reputable source', but did not name them/it.

EDIT: Link to Steeve Creedy's article... the text is slightly altered to the hard copy I read. Disaster focus on Qantas A330 incident over WA | The Australian

Last edited by Boomerang_Butt; 3rd Jun 2009 at 05:21. Reason: to add link
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 04:52
  #627 (permalink)  
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Also, sorry if I missed it (but a lot of posts are getting moved/deleted) in regard to my earlier question about ELTs...

The fixed ones in the a/c, do they activate on contact with water or only due to a high impact force? E.g., if an aircraft broke up mid-air does that mean the ELT would not activate?

Someone mentioned EK aircraft having a manual switch in the flight deck. Is this in addition to any mechanism which activates the ELT (that is, an extra option)? Does anyone know if AF also have this feature? If so, no mention of ELT signals so far would suggest that whatever happened, there was not time to hit that switch, or that the crew were focused on something else.

Finally, as CC, I am somewhat familiar with the portable 406 beacons carried onboard, but do not profess to know HOW they work. All we are told is in a ditching if you throw them in the water they will activate on their own. Surely these 2 beacons (as usually carried) would have activated whether they were separated at some point form the a/c, or attached to bulkheads, when coming in contact with water (as they would have at some point). Or is this subject to surving impact/fall/fire/high G's?

From comments earlier about fixed ELT, I'm assuming portables won't work once fully submmerged? Not trying to start anything, just looking to expand my knowledge in the hope I'll never have to use it first hand...
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 05:05
  #628 (permalink)  
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A turbulence/load factor-induced jet upset and loss of aerodynamic control with possible engine-flameout is a far, far more likely scenario given conditions at the time and place. Data showing autopilot disengagement and reversion to Alternate Law would also lend credence to that scenario, and possibly exacerbate the situation given the altitude, weight, and q-corner buffet boundaries. No crew would be thinking about (or possibly capable of) radio communication during attempts at recovering from such an event while still experiencing those outside, severe conditions.

Your theory would be the very last thing I'd suspect and there is absolutely no evidence to suggest it, and promoting it smacks of speculative sensationalism. The aircraft wasn't cuising in a benign environement when it was lost. In fact, the enviroment just prior and during the time frame was extremely dynamic in a potentially dangerous (convective) way. Check the met summary and you'll find actual evidence of that.

Last edited by AMF; 3rd Jun 2009 at 05:37.
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 05:16
  #629 (permalink)  
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Time to look also at what was in the cargo hold. Severe turbulence could have upset something that wasn't supposed to be there. A hull breach caused by even a small chemical explosion at FL350 would cause an explosive decompression, which is what I think the ACARS information adds up to.

Whether the crew could recover would depend on what had been damaged during the initial event, but assuming they lost control there and then, the aircraft would break up on the way down due to g forces. Anything in contact with sparks and aviation fuel would catch fire, hence reports of spot fires on the ocean surface.
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 05:24
  #630 (permalink)  
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To SunInMyEyes,

"Pan Am 214 was brought down by a lightning strike in 1963 only 4 years after the Boeing 707 was introduced. Boeing redesigned the fuel vent outlets so it could not happen again. It is not really appropriate to use that accident which happened 46 years ago to substantiate your argument of how dangerous lightning strikes can be."

Yes, but if you read my post, I'm talking about positive lightning. The re-designing of fuel vent outlets will have made absolutely no difference to the outcome of a positive lightning strike to any aircraft as positive lightning was only discovered in the 70's.
Data from the National Transportation Safety Board on lightning-related incidents in the US from 1967-93 recorded 40 lightning-related aircraft accidents. There were 10 commercial airplane accidents reported, 4 of which were associated with 260 fatalities and 28 serious injuries.
I don't believe lightning applies to Air France here, but it is not as benign as folks make out.
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 05:26
  #631 (permalink)  
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@jauh -both hot bus 1 and dc ess. bus probably, I agree with your idea...
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 05:28
  #632 (permalink)  
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Severe turbulence could have upset something that wasn't supposed to be there. A hull breach caused by even a small chemical explosion at FL350 would cause an explosive decompression, which is what I think the ACARS information adds up to.
SLF/PPL here, so forgive the question, but if there was a hull breach in sev turb and bearing in mind the Qantas 747 where the hull was breached by the crew 02 tank, could a similar event have happened to this aircraft. i.e. bottle detached and provoked to explode.

In sev turb, could an otherwise survivable breach cuase a break up.

Apologies if the A330 system/02 bottle design renders this a non starter.

I fly as a pax on the A330 a lot and am therefore concerned about this incident.
Old 3rd Jun 2009, 06:14
  #633 (permalink)  
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While many people keep going on about how this was explosive, the initial messages sent by the aircraft were not about de-pressurisation. They were about electrical/systems failures. Unless there is other evidence, the de-pressurisation should be viewed as a result, not a cause of the failures (eg. bombs, cargo, holes formed in the hull by lightening etc). Even now the initial quotes of depresserisation has now moved to more important vertical speed warnings as the last messages. This would suggest that the aircraft was in trouble then out of control. 5kms length wise spread of pieces found over a day later would easy be done by currents, and the fact it's in length wise, not area would help add to this. From an separation at 35,000 feet you would expect a much larger area with larger pieces in different areas that had air resistance on them.

As for the lack of radio contact, if all the systems were going dead around you at once in the middle of the Atlantic, I would be a lot more worried about the aircraft and lives then sending out a dooms day message for arm chair experts.

One thing that does that does interest me is if the statement of the aircraft experiencing turbulence by Air France was from the aircraft, or by their own guesses (as they have not stated any contact made to them after the ATC messages). Maps here also suggest that at that time they were not in the main storm and AF gave a very round figure for the time. This would not be the first time AF blamed lightening and turbulence straight away. Doing so in the past moved the blame away from them in the media, and right now they have very little blame on them from the media again (seems like a very effective method, but at the cost of the whole industry).
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 06:38
  #634 (permalink)  
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They also said that the A330 series computer system is susceptible to electro magnetic interference
I very much doubt that it is any more susceptible than other comparable aeroplane.

When the A330 was under consideration for the UK's Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft programme, one of my first queries was whether the susceptibility of the FBW system to EMI, for example caused by a receiver aircraft in close formation leaving its intercept radar on by mistake, had been considered. "Yes", I was told, "there is no issue".

Personally, I consider the EMI accident theory to be a roseate herring.
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 06:58
  #635 (permalink)  
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Flight in CB has leaded to crash in history

Back in 1981 in the netherlands a fokker F28 fellowship (later developped through to F100) crashed due heavy turbulence caused by flight through a CB.

The right hand wing separated.

So people stating turbulence can not cause a crash are wrong.

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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 07:13
  #636 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by wes_wall View Post
.../...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.
1) Electric failure to heat external sensors =>
2) Iced external sensors =>
3) Without sensors informations, autopilot disengaged, fly by wire system changed to alternate law =>
4) flurry of messages regarding ADIRU and ISIS faults
5) PRIM 1 and SEC 1 faults (again electric failures)
6) Stall (last message received was an advisory regarding cabin vertical
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 07:16
  #637 (permalink)  
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This would suggest something the aircraft was in trouble then out of control. 5kms length wise spread of pieces found over a day later would easy be done by currents, and the fact it's in length wise, not area would help add to this. From an separation at 35,000 feet you would expect a much larger area with larger pieces in different areas that had air resistance on them.
Excellent point, Phalanger, I've been thinking along the same lines. It's 'promising' (if you can use such a word in the current context) in that they'll be able to fix the likely point of impact with a little more accuracy than the earlier reports suggested; which in turn gives them a ghost of a chance of recovering the FDR/CVR. Not good odds on that though, it will probably only make the difference of the radius of search being in tens of miles rather than hundreds.

As for the lack of radio contact, if all the systems were going dead around you at once in the middle of the Atlantic, I would be a lot more worried about the aircraft and lives then sending out a dooms day message for arm chair experts.
I have to second that -whatever happened, the available evidence suggests that it happened very quickly. On a related note, suggestions that some sort of worldwide tracking system should be set up to cover all the world's oceans, this would cost literally billions to set up and run (whether it was satellite-based or ship-based); and, again on what little evidence is available, knowing where the aeroplane was would have contributed nothing to prevent the accident, and (now that the wreckage has been located) very little to the task of searching for the FDR/CVR.

According to Steve Creedy in this morning's Australian, the make on AF is different to that used by QF. I believe he said this was from a 'reputable source', but did not name them/it.
Booomerang-Butt, I checked this out and it appears simply to be a difference in standard equipment between the two models (A332/A333) rather than any difference between airline preferences. And, as I'm sure you'll know, the idea that electronic interference may have contributed to the Qantas incident came up mainly because there is a big naval signalling station near Learmonth, where it occurred.
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 07:29
  #638 (permalink)  
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I have read the 32 pages or so of this thread with interest. Some good info,some drivel & a few good theories expressed. I am an A/C Engineer so I am not going to speculate on the exact ins & outs of how to / or not fly an A330, but consider this as a possibility of what happened.

The 3 pilots study there WX briefing in RIO prior to Departure and decide that the WX enroute for the proposed flight plan is not expected to be outside Normal operating limits for the A/C ( It is another conversation to ask how accurate the WX forecast actually was but time will tell when the FDR is downloaded)
The A/C departs & flies on the sheduled route for approx 3 hours uneventfully at night.

I have heard of a case where severe Lightening Bolt punctured the Radome & Disabled the WX Radar antannae thus disabling both radar systems on the A/C - maybe this happened in this case also.

So the crew are now flying with no WX Radar at nite using a WX forecast at least 4 hours old. During that time the storm intensitys & Locations may have increased & changed location. Maybe the crew decided to turn back & hit one of these large storms head on & the extreme wind Forces inside the storm tore the A/C apart.

Does this sound like a realistic possibility to any of you guys who actually fly in that part of the world?
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 07:31
  #639 (permalink)  
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I would like to remark that the latest news reports say:
saw a band of wreckage in a 5km (3 mile) strip, Brazil's Defence Minister Nelson Jobim said.

Considering it took 24 hours to locate the area, and taking into account the drift from wind and currents , I don't see why we could discard that the aircraft was in one piece until it hit the water.
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Old 3rd Jun 2009, 07:32
  #640 (permalink)  
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Although the initial failure report in the automatic message seems to have been about electrical problems (I do not know which) and the "tree" of possibilities of systems degrading from there is a vast one, I have kept in mind since the sad news ot the accident the following facts:
the A330 is a beautiful aircraft but it has shown, again and again , very susceptible to probes icing, with the deicing system on auto (numerous reports). This leads to very rapidly presenting the crew with a very lame aircraft to say the least (I give you a factual example below, recent, on an A330, without comments). This has happened at high cruise altitudes, with no ICE alarm, with the heating on AUTO, and out of clouds in some cases...
"Light tutbulence. The speed indication on the right PFD falls suddenly from 280 to 100 knots in red tape for a few seconds Almost immediately the speed on the left PFD falls to green dot minus 15 knots with a speed trend of minus 50 knots. Red alarm A/P OFF ADR
Then amber alarm RUD TRV LIM FAULT.
Then STALL STALL STALL with Toga Lock indication.""
The crew changes flight level, the captain pilots with the stand by instruments,
The speeds become normal again.
The status after that:
amber crosses on PFDs
NOGO).Plane in Alternate law
This shows how an unconfortable event (loss of airspeed indication) that would have been minor in, say , an A300, becomes a major headache in those very sophisticated cockpits. Just for information and not saying that is
a possible explanation...but lose electrics, and apart from dealing with retrieving the generators, you may have that kind of thing loaded on top...
My thoughts go to them all...
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