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Air France A330-200 missing

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Air France A330-200 missing

Old 4th Jun 2009, 12:09
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Purely based on what we have on this thread, the first possible indication of 'difficulties' at 11:00?
I believe that the problems already started earlier. But during this 4 minutes, there was the total loss off control. The cabin VS warning would light up if the pressurization system is not able to maintain indicated cabin altitude, this either to a high rate of decent or ascent. I haven't ever stressed the A340 Level_D Sim that way. So i cannot really tell you how much V/S (positive or negativ) is necessary to force it. I recal some earlier statements, +/-1800. Well. I guess that was the moment were the aircraft was falling out of the skies and the reason why V/S was exceeded and why the cabin V/S popped up.

11:14 IMHO was the moment when the aircraft on its way down from 35'000ft broke up in parts. Thats when there was nothing to comminicate anymore by ACARS

ACARS unfortunatly is not telling us what happened in the minutes before loosing control.

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Old 4th Jun 2009, 12:10
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Airplanes on the same Track?!

I am wondering about that there is no discussion about that within 2hours more than 5 Airlines flying on the same track through or better to say around the tropical system eg. IB there were scheduled 10min later. How they did manage the circumnavigation around the storm? Or did they delay the departure? Was there no air to air talking?
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Old 4th Jun 2009, 12:11
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About 14 minutes between messages theory: If there is a problem, a long typed message isn't priority, and it is sent at 11:00, which would make it even more likely that it is something sent on regular basis. If there would be problems at this time, when they have time for typed messages, they would have time to decide deviate, return, etc. with many options. And if things would get worse (slowly) in the next 14 minutes we would have reasons to expect to see more communication attemtps, etc.

Why no MAYDAY or PAN-PAN message sent to ATC? We don't know the exact reasons, even if we assume they could contact ATC somehow, and the storms didn't make it impossible, their radio was working, sending such messages are urgent if you expect ATC can offer some assistance.
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Old 4th Jun 2009, 12:11
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To eazyflite;

From what I hear in another spanish forum, the IB flight was just a couple minutes behind the AF in the same track, although I think they were I little higher 370, they didn´t go thru the TS, the deviated a lot to avoid it, and the ride was quite smooth....
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Old 4th Jun 2009, 12:14
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Alternate Law

ALTERNATE LAW If Multiple Failures of Redundant Systems occur, the flight controls revert to Alternate Law.
The ECAM displays the message: ALTN LAW: PROT LOST
The ground mode is identical to Normal Law. Flight
  • In pitch alternate law the flight mode is a load factor demand law similar to the Normal Law flight mode, with reduced protections.
  • Pitch alternate law degrades to pitch direct law when the landing gear is extended to provide feel for flare and landing, since there is no flare mode when pitch normal law is lost.
  • Automatic pitch trim and yaw damping (with limited authority) is available.
  • Turn coordination is lost.
  • When pitch law degrades from normal law, roll degrades to Direct Law - roll rate depends on airspeed.
  • All protections except for load factor maneuvering protection are lost.
  • The load factor limitation is similar to to that under Normal Law.
  • Amber XX's replace the green = attitude limits on the PFD.
  • A low speed stability function replaces the normal angle-of-attack protection
    • System introduces a progressive nose down command which attempts to prevent the speed from decaying further.
    • This command CAN be overridden by sidestick input.
    • The airplane CAN be stalled in Alternate Law.
    • An audio stall warning consisting of "crickets" and a "STALL" aural message is activated.
    • The Alpha Floor function is inoperative.
  • The PFD airspeed scale is modified:
    • VLS remains displayed
    • VALPHA PROT and VALPHA MAX are removed
    • They are replaced by a red and black barber pole, the top indicating the stall warning speed VSW
  • A nose up command is introduced any time the airplane exceeds VMO/MMO to keep the speed from increasing further, which CAN be overridden by the sidestick.
  • Bank angle protection is lost.
  • Certain failures cause the system to revert to Alternate Law without speed stability.
  • Yaw damping is lost if the fault is a triple ADR failure.
ABNORMAL ALTERNATE LAW Abnormal Alternate Law is activated if the airplane enters an unusual attitude, allowing recovery from the unusual attitude.
  • Pitch law becomes Alternate (without autotrim or protection other than Load Factor protection).
  • Roll law becomes Direct law with mechanical yaw control.
  • After recovery from the unusual attitude, the following laws are active for the remainder of the flight:
    • Pitch: Alternate law without protections and with autotrim.
    • Roll: Direct law
    • Yaw: Alternate law
  • There is no reversion to Direct law when the landing gear is extended.
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Old 4th Jun 2009, 12:23
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to DVD

well, also a lot of Flights ex GRU were flying the same Track, if they were all deviating the TS, it seems to me either the WX Radar was U/S, or maybe the Pilots felt into sleep. Nobody would fly into the red Patches. Nobody could overfly the TS. (Tops up to FL500)
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Old 4th Jun 2009, 12:26
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For what it's worth, "Le Monde" claims through a unnamed source that the plane was overspeed and that an airbus directive will be published ASAP regarding speed management in rough weather.
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Old 4th Jun 2009, 12:28
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One a/c pack trip off limits for A330

Please, can you tell me what is the FL limit for an A330 with one airconditioning pack trip off?

Do you know how much would be the cabin rate change in that condition, at FL 350

Another question: does de ACARS send message if the A330 is losing power in one or two angines (eg. due to ice build?)

Hard turbulence, with ice build up is a very bad scenary. Is is not?

Cheers, Carlos
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Old 4th Jun 2009, 12:41
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I take the liberty of posting my previous message again, if I may...
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...
This failure has happened not once but at least four times in the previous year on the fleet.Why do heated pitots ice? In non severe icing conditions, and even out of clouds?I have flown a lot and I would have said that was impossible but the facts are there. It is a documented fact at least on this type of aircraft.We learn from facts and this could very possibly have a direct bearing to this tragic accident.
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Old 4th Jun 2009, 12:42
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@ carzerdan: can't comment on the pack off max alt for an a330. I know on the 777 if the pack trips off during flight and after appropriate checklist remains off there is no operational limitation. If it is an ADD on the ground than the MEL will give a ceiling restriction for 1 Pack operation.

Cabin Rate will not change IMHO.

ACARS will send a message when it senses abnormal N1/N2/EGT/Oil pressure/Vib/Temp readings (and many more) during any phase of flight.

@ nyt: overspeeding a modern jet is very easily done. The wings are supercritical (another word for extremely slick in layman's terms) and we fly reasonably close to Mmo (max operating mach number under normal conditions). The aircraft however is tested well beyond this Mach No. I know for my aircraft type Mmo is 0.87, the a/c has been tested to M0.95 and it doesn't need any other checks until M0.91 is reached.
Has to be quite an extreme upset with no flight crew actions to get that carried away.

Of course in a vertical up/downdraft situation with no autopilot and 20deg nose down in the coffin corner we are in a WHOLE new ball game.

@ all: long briefs by dispatchers have been removed from most big airline ops. Personally we get a range of maps/charts given to us and it is up to us to decide on the best course of action/possible re-route if it looks bad. Personally it has happened to me that the ''planners'' routed me through an area of possible severe turb for the sake of a 20min quicker flight time.
Although tempting from one angle and sometimes lightly pressured in the current climate and the ''cost is king'' mantra these days, it is easy to accept the routing. We all know that 90% of the time these areas tend not to be that bad. Gladly I did decide for a re-route that day.....

@ all: TAT probe icing is very incipient and extremely hard to diagnose when you haven't been confronted with it before.
(I've had it happen to me but the post will get too long)
BUT: if it happens inside towering Cu/Cb, IMC, Auto pilot disconnect, A/S and Alt anomolies and severe turb....
well that's a situation I rather not contemplate being in....
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Old 4th Jun 2009, 12:42
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Reported today in The Age Newspaper, Melbourne:

Pilot saw 'white light' where Air France flight lost
June 4, 2009 - 8:22PM

The captain of a Spanish airliner claims to have seen "an intense flash of white light" in the area where Air France Flight 447 was lost, the El Mundo newspaper said today.

The co-pilot and a passenger on the Air Comet flight from Lima to Lisbon also saw the light, it said, adding that a written report from the captain has been sent on to Air France, Airbus and the Spanish civil aviation authority.

"Suddenly, we saw in the distance a strong and intense flash of white light, which followed a descending and vertical trajectory and which broke up into six segments," the unidentified captain wrote.

The Air Comet flight's position at the time was at seven degrees north latitude and 49 degrees west longitude, whereas the Air France flight was estimated to be on the equator and 30 degrees west longitude, El Mundo said.

"Given the coincidence of time and place, I bring to your attention these elements so that they may be, possibly, useful in casting a light on the facts," the captain wrote.

The Air France jet went down on Monday during a flight from Rio to Paris with 228 people on board.

Air Comet is a Madrid-based airliner that mainly flies long-haul routes between Spain and Latin America.

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Old 4th Jun 2009, 13:01
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Practically impossible to say anything constructive with what is available but surely speed(low or high)must figure highly.

For what it's worth, "Le Monde" claims through a unnamed source that the plane was overspeed and that an airbus directive will be published ASAP regarding speed management in rough weather.
This must be their starting point for this investigation..As you approach rough air,you reduce to Va which puts you halfway between low speed and high speed buffet on the speedtape.The higher you are the closer these two will be(hence the reason for flying 2k below opt alt when turbulence is expected).So less margin to counter any speed excursion caused by turbulent air penetration.If you lose electrics concurrently,then you will have to rely on standby ASI which will give IAS only,so one of the first things a pilot should mentally check approaching rough air is the IAS equivalent of Va in case he has to fly it manually.The key is accepting alt excursions and concentrating on att vs speed.CWS R and CWS P are recommended but of course you need the AP.As with so much in flying,speed is often the killer.

All comments made with reference to Boeing aircraft.I cant comment on how the scenario plays out in a scarebus.But a plane is a plane is a plane.
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Old 4th Jun 2009, 13:01
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not overspeed

In response to nyt regarding overspeed?

" For what it's worth, "Le Monde" claims through a unnamed source that the plane was overspeed and that an airbus directive will be published ASAP regarding speed management in rough weather. "

I believe the point was that the A/C might have reduced its speed too much:

"The first thing you do when you fly into turbulence is to reduce speed to counter its effects. If you reduce speed too much you stall," retired pilot Jean Serrat explained to AFP."

Crashed Air France jet flying at 'wrong' speed: Report- Politics/Nation-News-The Economic Times
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Old 4th Jun 2009, 13:16
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Very interesting point. One could envision such a system being created, then acquiring mostly benign information up to the point of the very rare catastrophe, at which point the parameters we really need (when reconstructing events or faults in a post-hoc fashion) are not acquired due to electrical catastrophe on the vehicle or in the immediate environment of a thunderstorm.

NASA was able to glean a lot of information after the Columbia and Challenger accidents from data telemetry but those were obviously densely instrumented vehicles with dedicated data acquisition facilities groundside. The bandwidth and storage issues with trying to do the same for hundreds of routine passenger flights would be staggering IMHO.
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Old 4th Jun 2009, 13:23
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A330 probe icing and it's affects

A previous poster stated that probe icing in the A330 was not likely. I have experienced what i think now was TAT probe icing in the A330 whilst deviating around a CB. The TAT increased by 30 degrees C, the FADECs limited the amount of thrust available and the VLS and MMO limits moved towards each other limiting the range of speed available. Last year two A330s operated by an asian carrier suffered air conditioning pack shutdowns within an hour of each other within a couple of hundred miles of each other. The failures, i understand, were blamed upon a large increase in the TAT, the aircraft were deviating around a typhoon at the time.
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Old 4th Jun 2009, 13:25
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I have been talking with the captain of the IB flight that was 10 minutes behind the AF. Here you can find my conversation. Apuestaforo - Ver post - Accidentes aéreos
Interesting. When the IB 10 minutes behind reached TASIL everybody was allready calling out for the AF, so it must have been clear quite early that it was missing/lost.
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Old 4th Jun 2009, 13:27
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Whilst I agree with Klauss' comment that hand flying is rarely done at altitude, I can't agree that it presents "not a problem at all".

Even for a pilot with high handling skills - (a descriptor that I think, if we were being honest with ourselves, very few of us, in these days of maximum use of automation, would lay claim to) - flying at high altitude, even if not in Alternate Law, can be a very mushy can of worms, even in smooth conditions.

In an area of severe turbulence, hand flying at high altitude is not something I'd like to have to do, particularly with such a narrow speed band as the unfortunate Air France crew presented with.
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Old 4th Jun 2009, 13:28
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2 or 3 days ago on BBC Radio 4 they were interviewing someone (can't recall name etc) from one of the organisations who have previously recovered FDR/CVRs from the ocean. Whilst admitting that the recovery was challenging he was confident that recovery was not only feasible but could and would be achieved. At the end of the interview anyone listening would be left in no doubt that recovery of the recorders was a certainty.

On a slightly different tack who has title (legally) to the recorders? If the official body deemed that recovery of the recorders was not possible and would not be pursued, could others parties do so and if they did are they legally obliged to hand them over to the official investigation?
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Old 4th Jun 2009, 13:33
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I guess if FDR/CVR cannot be found.. maybe a new rule for the future could be a mandatory use of ACARS reporting problems with a lot of parameters.... (like a limited online FDR/CVR)
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Old 4th Jun 2009, 13:51
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Relevant? Media Idiocy.

Air France flight 447 delayed by bomb threat
By Editing Staff
Media sources have learned that Argentine media reported on May 27 that an Air France flight traveling from Ezeiza Airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina to Paris, France, was delayed after the airline reportedly received a bomb threat, just days before Air France Flight 447 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

According to momento24, on May 27, authorities boarded Air France Flight 415, a Boeing 777 en route to Paris and searched the plane for a bomb, but found nothing. They were acting on a threat that had been phoned in. The search lasted for nearly two hours and none of the passengers were evacuated from the aircraft. Air France issued a statement saying the threat was later proven to be "false" and that the plane had only taken 32 minutes to search, and was then allowed to proceed to its destination.

Air France flight 447 delayed by bomb threat

Last edited by theballetbrusque; 4th Jun 2009 at 14:12.
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