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-   -   Air France A330-200 missing (https://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/375937-air-france-a330-200-missing.html)

F117A 1st Jun 2009 14:49

Lightening Strike
I totally agree, it is nearly impossible that this aircraft has been downed by a lightnening strike although I will not rule out that the aircraft entered a CB. Since the incident happened close to the equator and ITCZ the tropopause is higher and thus CB tops can be recorded at very high altitudes were as normally airlines flying in mid latitudes will fly above any weather. Although I cannot understand how the crew could have flown directly into CB with AWB onboard indicating severe turbulance and weather.

YHZChick 1st Jun 2009 14:50

I thought the Cockpit Voice recorder and the Flight Data recorder were supposed to float! Am I wrong?
Kinda hard to float when you're buried under a few tons of fuselage.

Come on people. Enough with the stupid questions already.

MFALK 1st Jun 2009 14:55

The A330 ATSU needs AC1 BUS as its power source so if they got an ACARS downlink it would seem to indicate that at least AC1 was powered hence it could mean that at the time the message was downlinked, the electrical system was not as degraded as it would be, for e.g., in an EMER ELEC CONFIG.

JP4 1st Jun 2009 14:55

Jotape, have a look here:

Airline accident ratings

betpump5 1st Jun 2009 14:58

The reason I don't wish to speculate is because in the bigger picture, we know nothing. With respect to our fellow aviators the gadgets we get to play with are pretty impressive. Especially for en-route weather.

Which is why I'm not going to just agree with some ill-thought theory that the plane happened to fly into a CB. As with ALL flight accidents, there is a chain of events. What we will find out is that many things went wrong in order for this unfortunate event to occur, not just one thing.

Ron Waksman 1st Jun 2009 14:58

Lightning grounding testing for composite aircraft?
A lightning strike on a North Sea helicopter a number of years ago brought down the aircraft. Luckily the crew and oil workers were rescued. These North Sea helicopters had been hit regularly by lightning over a number of years with no major damage or problems. But it was not until after the manufacturer added composite tail rotor blades that a theory developed that composite materials could be exploded by rare and extremely powerful lightning bolts. The A330 as I understand is made of 12-15% composite material. Nowhere near what the A350 or 787 Dreamliner will be, but what I read on the net suggests lightning protection is difficult to incorporate into a composite aircraft compared to conventional aluminium ones. Composite airframes also give less electromagnetic shielding compared to aluminium, making it more difficult to protect avionic systems.

Flyinheavy 1st Jun 2009 15:00

Lightening Strike
To F117A:

Just suppose that they continue after an ELEC failure. Would they still have WX Radar indications?

It's all speculations, at this time all we sadly can hope for is to find the FDR and get clues from it.

one post only! 1st Jun 2009 15:01

WHBM, the crew have the authority to do whatever they need to do to keep the aircraft safe. I am sure they will have been picking their way through the weather without fear of a reprimand following a tech stop (if required) for extra fuel. Although after reading the weather I am sure they took plenty of gas and could have meandered around all day avoiding stuff without eating into reserves!

Richard_Brazil 1st Jun 2009 15:02

Brazilian Air Force press release
(Exact translation of text received via a news site; the Air Force site seems to have buckled under the traffic.)

The Brazilian Air Force Command informs that it has begun search operations for AIR FRANCE FLIGHT 447, which disappeared when flying from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Paris, France, with an estimated arrival time of 6:10 AM (Brasilia time).

The AIR FRANCE aircraft took off from Galećo Airport in Rio at 7:30 PM local time. At 10:30 PM, Flight AFR 447 made its last contact via radio with the Atlantic Area Control Center (CINDACTA III) at position INTOL (565 kilometers from the city of Natal, RN), informing that it was entering the airspace of DAKAR - Senegal (position TASIL – 1,228 km from Natal), at 11:20 PM (Brasilia time). At 10:48 PM, when the aircraft left CINDACTA III's radar coverage, at the island of Fernando de Noronha, information indicated that the aircraft was flying normally at an altitude of 35,000 feet (11 km) and at a velocity of 453 knots (840 km/h).

At the time estimated for position TASIL (11:20 PM), the AIR FRANCE aircraft did not make the expected radio contact with CINDACTA III, of which DAKAR Control was informed.

AIR FRANCE informed CINDACTA III, at 8:30 AM, Brasilia time, that at approximately 100 km from position TASIL, flight AFR 447 sent a message informing the company of mechanical problems on the aircraft (loss of pressurization and a failure in the electrical system).

At 2:30 AM local time, SALVAERO Recife activated search teams of the Brazilian Air Force - FAB, with one C-130 Hercules aircraft, one sea patrol P-95 Bandeirante and the Air-Land Rescue Squadron (PARASAR).

Air Brigadier Antonio Carlos Moretti Bermudez
Head of the Air Force Center for Social Communication

Blacksheep 1st Jun 2009 15:03

would the crew have authority to divert substantially around, even if this meant a fuel stop en-route, without reprimand afterwards ?
Once airborne, the crew have complete authority to do anything they consider necessary for the safe conduct of the flight - including returning to the point of origin. They may need to justify their actions later, but fear of reprimand would be very far from their minds when making a safe flight decision.

Dysag 1st Jun 2009 15:04

The amount of composites in the A330 fuselage structure is negligable.

Unusual Attitude 1st Jun 2009 15:05

With regards to recovery, a typical N Sea spec WROV can operate down to approx 2500m and is capable of tasks such as recovering a FDR. There are a number of vessels operating on construction projects in W Africa at the moment equipped with such ROV's, any deeper than that however is getting very specialist.

Even so, recovering a whole aircraft from that depth is one heck of a feet and I would suggest extremely unlikely due to the massive costs involved. A hi-res multibean mapping of the debris field along with a visual ROV inspection of key areas and recovery of the FDR would be more likely.
Fingers crossed it doesnt happen like that and by the grace of god they find the kite merrily floating on the surface with all the pax and crew safe and well.

F117A 1st Jun 2009 15:06

It depends what type of electrical failure. But for sure to have a total blackout is really something rare. The A330 is equiped with quadriplex elec systems all independent of each other. On rare occasions a total black out can occur if all engines fail. At this point a RAT is deployed to give limited elec to hydraulics and minimum avionics.

threemiles 1st Jun 2009 15:07

We can assume that at the time of the accident there was other traffic in the area going northbound. The three parallel South Atlantic ATS routes are not heavily but frequently flown. Any distress calls on 121.5 would have been certainly heard by someone else. VHF is extended range up to 400 or 500 NM from the receivers in the area and Recife and Sal can listen far out. Also other traffic would have experienced the CB area yesterday night on the same airway, most likely also at the same flight level 350.

747guru 1st Jun 2009 15:10

Of course all we can do is speculate and make educated guesses at this stage, but having read many of the previous postings on this subject, I am suprised that the "T" word (terrorism) hasn't been mentioned more often as a theory today?

As much as we would like to brush this aside, I am sure that "radical groups", especially AQ etc are not considered a threat in south america, and perhaps the terrorists have realised this too and have managed to breach security in Rio?

Let's hope not!

Xeque 1st Jun 2009 15:14

You raise a good point but....
Think back to Lockerbie. A sudden, disastrous in-flight break-up. There was no time for a radio message before the flight crew were incapacitated. There have been many similar incidents.
Here we have a bad weather system up to 41,000 feet (look at the previous posts herein) - a lot higher than this aircraft was probably at. It was night so there would be no visual indication of Cu Nim (CB). The dangers of CAT are already well known. Then the aircraft runs into the equivalent of Mother Natures sledge hammer including (perhaps) a major lightning strike that severely effects the electrical systems including the weather radar and, more crucially, the auto-pilot - something you really do not want at FL350 or higher.
Aircraft out of control, at high speed (Mach .83+?) no means of communication, little means of regaining manual control. The airframe begins to rapidly break up.
It's a minus situation for even the best of pilots.
Conjecture? Sure it's conjecture. But what else are we likely to have here unless, by some miracle, the 'boxes' are recovered.

mark25787 1st Jun 2009 15:16

I am suprised that the "T" word (terrorism) hasn't been mentioned more often as a theory today?
To be honest, I'm glad it hasn't been. A tiny fraction of aviation incidents are terrorism related, and to go along that train of thought in a case like this is completely unfounded.
Also, it's hardly a terrorist coup to have a plane crash into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean - just devastating to those who have family and friends unaccounted for.

betpump5 1st Jun 2009 15:19

For me, personally who has sat at my laptop in the garden on my day off and reading copious amounts of news, things simply do not add up. Which is why speculation must be kept to a minimum.

The reasons could go from Terrorism (which someone alluded to has not been mentioned much) to the Bermuda Triangle (which hasn't been mentioned if you believe in that sort of BS.

People have mentioned about the weather at the time and any weather that can bring down an airliner will be seen on any en-route weather information system so I don't buy that as one single or most important cause.

Aerospace101 1st Jun 2009 15:20

Was it on a busy route? Was BA/KLM/Iberia also flying to europe last night. I wonder what conditions they encountered?

YHZChick 1st Jun 2009 15:22

I am suprised that the "T" word (terrorism) hasn't been mentioned more often as a theory today?

As much as we would like to brush this aside, I am sure that "radical groups", especially AQ etc are not considered a threat in south america, and perhaps the terrorists have realised this too and have managed to breach security in Rio?
Why are you surprised?
There has been NOTHING to suggest that this was a terrorist act. No terroist organizations have claimed responsibility. The airline was not advised of any threats to their aircraft.

Why try to stir up speculation that NONE of the (limited) available information can support? Fear-mongering is all you're doing.

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