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AF 447 Search to resume

Old 6th Sep 2010, 10:04
  #2121 (permalink)  
 
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A400M cargo door

Originally Posted by bearfoil
HazelNuts39 I don't know the A400m, but notice a shift in thinking relative to the VS. There are 4 pair of Brackets, eight clevis pins.
The A400M carries outsize loads such as helicopters, heavy engineering equipment and armoured vehicles that are too large or too heavy for current tactical airlifters. It is powered by four turbo-propeller engines, has a straight shoulder-mounted wing and a T-tail. The rear fuselage is a big hole covered by a load-carrying ramp that allows large vehicles to be driven into the hold. I really think you should click on the link and scroll two screens down to see a view of the cut-open fuselage, and the need for 'a shift in thinking' will be immediately apparent.

regards,
HN39

Last edited by HazelNuts39; 6th Sep 2010 at 20:55.
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Old 6th Sep 2010, 18:48
  #2122 (permalink)  
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mm43 You pose an interesting question. I consider ACARS a system status report/Log, intended for the a/c base. RTLU WRN. falls within that milieu, it can be assumed (can it?) not to be a pilot alert. Of the more salient data in the ACARS log, TCAS and RTLU seemed initially to be more alarming than a/p drop. Their direct relationship to the crash may escape one, but they tell a tale.

A working theory is that A/P disconnect and Law reversion signalled the initial response of ACARS to upset, not the beginning of a trail of fails, but the deluge of data needing to be sent to Mx. As has been noted many times, A330 Autopilot has a responsibility to maintain control up to its manouvering limits. I submit that the limit was reached as a result of upset, not at its beginnings.

TCAS depends on a/s, Rudder on Law. I don't think the pitots and statics crapped out as a result of simultaneous icing, but instead did not crap out at all, their individual reports may have been consistent with airflow in unusual attitudes. Simultaneous failure (icing) would it seems to me be dependent on a consistent airflow, and temp.; At least one to facilitate a sudden icing of all sensors.

Given a simultaneous icing, there would also be no discrepant readings, right? They would be wrong, but each reasonably to be expected wrong in unison (at the same rate). If ice was not simultaneous, TCAS is expected up front in the cascade of warnings. Law change follows a/p autonomous quit, but AL II? I do not know this.

I am not persuaded that RTLU WRN wasn't a malfunctioning limit, not the acquisition of reverted and mechanical limits. Again, if the RTLU was operating correctly, why would ACARS "WRN" maintenance? Even had the 16 degree lock been working, If god forbid any Rudder was input, the potential for airframe damage at this speed is clear. I think there was substantial tail failure at altitude, a beginning at least of tailplane and VS complete loss. The THS was full of 10,593 pounds of fuel, and the Rudder had 16 degrees of sweep available. If upset occurred prior to a/p loss, it is more likely damage occurred in flight, than not, but certainly as a precursor to water impact. Thoughts?

edit: This before even broaching a Windshear WRN at or about upset!! Caveat! ACARS makes for a lousy FDR.

edit: It is unlikely the a/c did NOT bury her snout. the mass is concentrated well forward of the tail, no? This would all but stop her forward momentum.

bear

Last edited by bearfoil; 6th Sep 2010 at 19:02.
 
Old 6th Sep 2010, 22:35
  #2123 (permalink)  
 
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Bearfoil

On further reflection and re-analysis of the BEA Interim Report No.2, I am now persuaded that 0210 cockpit effect messages were displayed solely as a result of the conflict between the ADIRUs which meant that data required for their updating was no longer valid or available. The modified graphic from Interim Report No.2 reproduced below tends to support that.



Which means that with ADM/ADIRU inputs from the 3 x pitots in disagreement, [F/CTL RUD TRV LIM FAULT] that the RTLU no longer had valid input and on reversion to Alternate Law was now locked. The Reactive Wind Shear fault [AUTO FLT REAC W/S DET FAULT] was displayed for a similar reason and would no longer be available at around 2,500 feet. In fact all the Cockpit Effect Messages timed at 0210 were all related to the same cause and advised of appropriate changes as they had no valid inputs.

Some of these messages do look like "information overload", but when considering that they could happen at any stage of the flight profile, it was deemed safer to display them rather than applying a filter.

So in summary the message displayed needs to be considered in the context of what triggered it, and I have now convinced myself that the RTLU WRN was not as a result of crew action.

EDIT:: The TCAS fault has been identified [by me] in the graphic, and is directly related to the other 0210 Cockpit Effect Messages.

mm43

Last edited by mm43; 7th Sep 2010 at 20:52. Reason: replaced graphic
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Old 7th Sep 2010, 02:01
  #2124 (permalink)  
 
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Pitch on impact

mm43. With reference to your pic in post 2067 http://www.pprune.org/5902693-post2067.html if AF447 comes in at a much higher pitch it is easier to get the water into the tail cone to bend the frames backwards (after failing underside skin, and perhaps the pressurising bulkhead) and pop off the VS due to water pressure, bending frames, as well as the vertical loads from the tail cone impact. Also the water pressure on the hull due to impact is always virtually perpendicular to the ‘cylinder’ so a high pitch and relatively high ‘forward’ speed stills gives the damage impression of landing with high ‘vertical speed’ with a ‘low’ forward speed . In this case there is also a short 'horizontal' deceleration as the horizontal stabilisers hit the water and the tail cone skin is torn and water penetrates the cone.. This provides the ‘forward damage of the A/C internals’, tears off the tail cone (trim tank sinks here) and allows the rest of the plane to go a relatively long way to form the ‘incoming’ leg of the slick albeit after loosing a large amount of forward velocity due to this tail cone failure.
Nothing new here, just interested in why the pitch on impact is not considered to be much higher.

FF
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Old 7th Sep 2010, 02:27
  #2125 (permalink)  
 
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FluidFlow

Like your illustration!

The BEA observed -
  • The aircraft was probably intact on impact.
  • The aircraft struck the surface of the water with a positive attitude, a low bank and a high rate of descent.
  • There was no depressurisation.
They also mentioned that there was a left-right symmetry of compression damage throughout the length of the aircraft. For that reason, I feel that their description of "positive attitude" didn't imply anything dramatic, and I opted for +5 degrees. Also, if the airframe had ruptured abaft the main wing with a high forward velocity, the chances of the symmetrical bottom up compression damage to the forward section would be remote. I believe that a "cartwheel" type of breakup would then have occurred.

As usual, I could be wrong, and your suggestion is well worth a look.

mm43
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Old 7th Sep 2010, 08:04
  #2126 (permalink)  
 
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Another way to look at things


Consider this side view of an A330 Tail as taken from the Second BEA Interim report. Imagine that the aircraft is impacting on its belly with approximately 100 knots of forward speed and 100 knots of vertical velocity.
The following breakup scenario is speculative but I'm offering it to illustrate the complex way energy can be transmitted to the structure when you look at very small time intervals.

As the belly of the aircraft begins to make contact with the surface, the relatively stiff wing center section decelerates very rapidly because its area of contact expands rapidly and it vertically decelerates the aircraft fuselage section above it, causing the fuselage to bend downward both ahead of and behind the wing. As the wing begins to submerge, its forward velocity is braked as well and this deceleration causes the wing to pitch downward from the mass of the fuselage section above the wing. This pitch down reverses the bending moment on the forward fuselage ahead of the wing and tears through the crown of the aft fuselage behind the wing.
Now lets consider what is happening to the aft fuselage.
The aft fuselage is now weakly coupled to the center section, probably mostly by the floor and some of the belly skin. The cargo compartment has largely crushed upward absorbing some of the vertical kinetic energy. The aft pressure bulkhead has no such cushion below it, and as it contacts the surface, it trasmits considerable force up to the forward pair of rudder attach lugs. The VS begins to tilt aft and fail aft of the forward lugs as the fuselage begins to shear aft of the pressure bulkhead. About this time, the THS makes contact with the surface and initially vertically decelerates the aft two sets of lugs to which it is still attached by virtue of Frame 91 structure and then begins to horizontally decelerate the bottom of the broken segment aft of the rear pressure bulkhead as the THS submerges and is torn from its mountings. The aft motion imparted by the THS as it detaches gives the remainder of the tail a sharp rotation which throws the VS in a forward direction. The structure torn off by the THS tears off the bottom of the rudder at an upward angle in its departure from the aircraft.
The above sequence is just a scenario. It should meet most of the findings of the BEA investigators regarding AF447, but I have no doubt it also overlooks critical data and needs additional detail.
The inexorable crushing and tearing apart of an aircraft as it meets a virtually immovable object (the ocean surface) can be quite complex when you start to look at happenings in the milli-second time frame.
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Old 7th Sep 2010, 09:39
  #2127 (permalink)  
 
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What was meant by BEA in talking about low forward speed and high vertical descent rate? When I first read it, I took it to mean low forward speed compared with the normal cruise, and high vertical descent rates compare with the normal approach descent rate.

I certainly did not take it that the vertical descent rate could be as high or higher than the forward speed on impact.

Could the relatively undamaged state of the internal rack/cupboard be consistent with a vertical descent at hundred knots? Is the damage to the recovered bodies in any way indicative of such a relatively high descent rate?

Chris N
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Old 7th Sep 2010, 13:52
  #2128 (permalink)  
 
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Descent rate

Is the damage to the recovered bodies in any way indicative of such a relatively high descent rate?
From p. 32 of the English version of the Interem Report No. 2:

---- START QUOTE ---
The compression fractures of the spinal column associated with the fractures of the pelvis, observed on passengers seated throughout the cabin, are compatible with the effect, on a seated person, of high acceleration whose component in the axis of the spinal column is oriented upwards through the pelvis.
---- END QUOTE ---
(my italics)

Sounds to me like high vertical acceleration in all parts of the cabin.

Maybe someone with medical knowledge could comment on how much acceleration had to be involved?

Last edited by PickyPerkins; 7th Sep 2010 at 16:05. Reason: spelling
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Old 7th Sep 2010, 14:43
  #2129 (permalink)  
 
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Hard to give anything more than a semi-quantitative answer to this.

Compression fractures of the lumbar spine are relatively frequent in pilots ejecting from fighter jets. Typical forces involved here are in the order of 12 - 14G. The bony pelvis would be expected to withstand these forces. Note however that:
a) we are talking about young adult males (20-30's) where bone strength is at a peak
b) these pilots are wearing a harness
c) the seats are engineered to deliver this vertical acceleration as safely as possible.

Very different in a commercial airliner - heterogeneous population, lap belts only, in seats not designed for this vertical acceleration. So you certainly would start seeing some compression fractures at much lower forces.

If you were talking about a fall and landing in the sitting position, it would take a fall from at least a couple of metres onto hard ground or concrete to cause vertebral fractures plus pelvic disruption in a young adult male (and obviously a significantly higher fall if landing on legs as decelleration will be more gradual). An elderly person can suffer the same injuries with a fall from the standing position.

Not sure that this helps much however. Without knowing over what distance the vertical speed was reduced to zero, you can't really estimate vertical velocity even if you can take a good guess at the peak acceleration.
v squared = 2as, so you need a good estimate of s and a in order to even guess v.

Also, it is almost certain that a was NOT constant - injury pattern (sort of) correlates with peak a rather than average a.

Last edited by slats11; 7th Sep 2010 at 15:05. Reason: typo
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 02:49
  #2130 (permalink)  
 
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I certainly did not take it that the vertical descent rate could be as high or higher than the forward speed on impact.
Nor I, assuming (like you) that the statements were comparative (to a normal descent), just enhanced values of vertical and typical or somewhat less than normal horz component...

One really cannot read too much into such subjective statements.

===

With the VS separation analysis now proceeding to this high level (of credence), it seems on balance then, that the airframe was substantially intact at impact - and that the exact break-up sequence on impact can never be fully simulated/modelled. Any impact angle and velocity that results in a separated VS, with similar support structure damage, is acceptable... there may be more than one set that fits the bounding conditions!

What matters, next... review the VS drift again making the assumption it originated at the crash site. Can that correlate with the estimated backtracked position of the slick?
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 03:05
  #2131 (permalink)  
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I do certainly agree. A reasonable starting point (visualization) might be the impact of the 737NG at Schipol. A forward velocity insufficient for aerodynamic flight, and a vertical rate in excess of merely standard rates. 2-3,000fpm? The fuselage broke into three parts, a rather common result A result probably unlike 447's might be Afriqiyah.

bear
 
Old 8th Sep 2010, 03:13
  #2132 (permalink)  
 
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From BEA Interim report #2
The compression fractures of the spinal column associated with the fractures of the pelvis, observed on passengers seated throughout the cabin, are compatible with the effect, on a seated person, of high acceleration whose component in the axis of the spinal column is oriented upwards through the pelvis.
Fractures of the pelvis combined with compression fractures of the spine point to much higher levels of vertical acceleration than experienced in an ejection seat. Yes, airline seating is sub-optimum to support the human body and probably contributed to pelvic fractures. There are other injuries one would expect to see associated with very high g levels. See this student research paper for a general idea of the g levels associated with lethal levels of acceleration: Acceleration That Would Kill a Human
In actuality, fatal human g levels in the vertical axis are lower than with fore and aft acceleration for reasons related to the content of the next to last sentence.

Last edited by Machinbird; 8th Sep 2010 at 03:33. Reason: To correct a sentence reference
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 03:23
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Two thing that have always struck me odd about this are the number of bodies that were found, and the absence of life-jackets.

Seat belts don't fail - they will carry you to the bottom. Those bodies that were found were therefore presumably not restrained and were able to float free of the disrupted cabin as it sank. There were more unrestrained people than you would expect in moderate turbulence with "all passengers and crew returned to their seat with seat belts fastened". There were almost certainly more unrestrained people than bodies found - some bodies were simply never found or sank over the following days.

To me this suggests that the interval between normal mild turbulence (with people still walking around the cabin or seated without belts) and sudden loss of control (which incapacitated people such that they could not get to any empty seat) was very short. And that control was never regained.

Also the life-jackets. Hard to believe that no one had a jacket on if there was any semblance of control on the way down. The crew would have told people to put jackets on, and some would have - some likely would have even in the absence of any instruction. They would have all known that it was the middle of the night in the middle of an ocean. Again, maybe the loss of control was so serious and so sudden that no one had an opportunity to put on a jacket over the following minutes. Hard to imagine, but it is difficult to support any other conclusion. I have seen speculation that it was an attempted ditching, or they were recovering control and lost visual reference and ran out of space. If either of these were true, I think we would have seen some jackets.
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 03:35
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Fractures of the pelvis combined with compression fractures of the spine point to much higher levels of vertical acceleration than experienced in an ejection seat.
Correct. Maybe I was not sufficiently clear in my earlier post.

Ejection seats will sometimes cause lumbar vertebral crush fractures but certainly not a fractured pelvis. Not in a young adult male anyway.

At even lower G levels than an ejection seat, you might find a few fractures among a couple of hundred heterogeneous people on a passenger aircraft. However the very high prevalence of these injuries among the recovered bodies here does suggest much higher forces than this.
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 04:09
  #2135 (permalink)  
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slats11

Your conclusions relative to seated/belted, and lack of jackets are well founded. The upset, by this logic, was sudden and led to a chaotic "g" environment from the outset. I too believe the "seated passengers" stretches credulity, it is too "pat". Any pax belted in at the onset of upset would have remained so, unable to release their lapbelt, even if they were alive to do so. I believe no belted pax were recovered here. The pelvic saddle is subject to disarticulation as any joint system is, but the Sacrum, Femur processes, and Ilia are the strongest part of the skeletal structure. I venture to say that any human frame left to bounce about the fuselage would have injuries consistent with flail, impact, and soft tissue ablation in the extreme. BEA have isolated these "Pelvic" trauma as though the victims recovered suffered only this, no other. A crepitous spinal column is virtually impossible without accompanying severe trauma, here, left w/o description. Of those recovered, "42" had remarkable "trauma while seated". The others were not described, their injuries were not as extensive? Unbelted pax were recovered, yet 42 of the 53 were "seated". No, I think. No one regained his/her seat after upset, let alone rode this a/c down unbelted and in their chairs, to suffer "vertical impact". This wants more explanation, with the evidence assembled, I should think.

bear
 
Old 8th Sep 2010, 04:28
  #2136 (permalink)  
 
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VS drift

What matters, next... review the VS drift again making the assumption it originated at the crash site. Can that correlate with the estimated backtracked position of the slick?
Cant do exactly that due to lack of info. But the VS was sighted 4.1Nm south and recovered 5.3 Nm south of the ‘body drift centreline’ with respect to time. It was sighted 9.2Nm west and recovered 14.2Nm west of the ideal body centreline (noting there was a large fanning out by this stage). It does show the VS moving west relatively quickly (4.95hrs and 5.1 Nm or 1 knot different to a body) so appears to suggest that there is a reasonable (? or perhaps statistically irrelevant) probability that the VS did not enter the water west of the impact site. (The assumption here is that they were both at the slick 30 hrs after the crash which is also unlikely to be exactly correct – cant to the maths otherwise).
IMO this implies the VS was still attached until impact or very close to impact but the maths is not strong re this point and perhaps not even relevant. The bending of the frames below the VS mounts is likely stronger evidence the VS fell off due to its foundations being damaged by water pressure than this drift ‘evidence’.
FF

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Old 8th Sep 2010, 05:00
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Thats my take on it Bear. Sudden and complete LOC.

Those strapped in were incapacitated, died at or before impact, and are still strapped in. Those not restrained could not get to a seat, nor don a jacket and suffered major injuries either before or at impact. That many non-restrained (at least as many as bodies recovered) suggests passengers were not advised to strap in.

This scenario also explains why no Mayday. It was that sudden and that bad.
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 08:03
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Silly question

There seem to be many questions about the fact that bodies found floating on the surface of the sea were not belted to seats, but that in contrast their spinal injuries are consistent with them having been in seats and belted at the time of impact, and subject to high vertical acceleration.

Ruminating on this I am tempted to ask a “silly question”, and simultaneously to take cover behind the notion that there ought to be no “silly questions”, particularly when the known facts and ideas do not add up neatly.

My “silly question” is rooted in the fact that all objects dropped on a surface bounce unless their properties are such as to be able to EXACTLY absorb all the kinetic energy of the falling object (which isn’t very often).

Pretty well everything bounces, not just tennis balls, etc. When you click a computer mouse button, the computer sees a long series of make and break events as the contact bounces, and special software exists in the computer to interpret this series as a single “make“ event.

Now for my “silly question”.

What happens when a passenger lap belt buckle is slammed down on a passenger’s lap with decelerations of say 20g-100g?

There is going to be some bounce.

The buckle as a unit is going to bounce upward, and the release lever may also impact the buckle body and bounce upward as well.

In either case, could the upward momentum of the release lever be enough to turn the release lever through 90+ degrees and thereby release the belt? The spring which normally holds the buckle closed is not very strong.

If one knew the weight of the release lever and the strength of the spring, it might be possible to calculate the accelerations needed to release the belt under “bounce” conditions.

Of course, if you have a seat belt and buckle available, like the one carried on every aircraft and used on every flight by flight attendants to demonstrate how to release the buckle, you could take it to the nearest “bouncy” surface and see how hard you have to slam it down in order to release the buckle.

I presume that no tests were required at the time that the seat design was approved since no 20g-100g forces were considered relevant.

The fact that most of the bodies were found with spinal injuries consistent with being subjected to high accelerations while being seated and belted, but that the bodies were recovered from the sea unbelted, strongly suggests to me there must be some common mechanism by which they became unbelted.

Taking cover ……….

Last edited by PickyPerkins; 9th Sep 2010 at 01:54. Reason: typo
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 09:52
  #2139 (permalink)  
 
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PickyPerkins wrote:-

There seem to be many questions about the fact that bodies found floating on the surface of the sea were not belted to seats, but that in contrast their spinal injuries are consistent with them having been in seats and belted at the time of impact, and subject to high vertical acceleration.
Are you sure they were belted in? I believe the consensus of opinion in this thread is that the bodies that were recovered were not belted in. Some may have been seated and others not. It is my opinion that there were "g" forces involved right from the commencement of loss of control that precluded unseated or non-belted persons from regaining their seats or securing a seat belt. Exactly how or when they received their injuries will never be known, but the FDR when recovered may shed some light on that issue.

We know that the vertical kinetic energy at impact was high. Exactly what it was can possibly be deduced from careful forensic analysis of the recovered debris. A photo in the BEA Interim Report No.2 shows the front edge of an overhead luggage compartment bent forward slightly. That in itself isn't very helpful in determining the horizontal kinetic energy as we don't know anything about what was in the locker, i.e. size, weight or distance it may have moved.

As Machinbird has already pointed out the mechanics of this breakup are complex. However, the BEA has placed some emphasis on the vertical descent rate and then said "nothing" about the horizontal component other than mentioning the aircraft impacted "en ligne de vol" with positive attitude and the tail yawing to port. I am sure the BEA has managed to put some numbers on both these vectors, but are astute enough not to muddy the waters should recovery of the DFDR and CVR reveal something else.

mm43
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 11:48
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I wonder what the vertical descent rate really was. I think we will do better to estimate velocity and calculate a probable acceleration rather than the other way round.

I am sure the velocity was substantial, but I'm having trouble envisaging 90-100 m/sec (post 2067, mm43). 1 km every 10 seconds? From cruise to sea-level in approx 100 seconds? The thing should have been slowing down if anything in the thicker atmosphere. That's faster then the terminal velocity for a dense object such as a skydiver. For an aerodynamic air-filled structure? Am I missing something here?

Assume 100m/sec. Assume cabin contents (including pax) decellerated to zero over maybe 10 m (combination of the hole in the water and collapse of the cabin floor into the hold). That is an average decelleration of 500m/sec/sec. Does the galley look like it took a force like this? I am not an engineer so am happy to be corrected. But it just doesn't look right to me.

The compression fractures of the spinal column associated with the fractures of the pelvis, observed on passengers seated throughout the cabin, are compatible with the effect, on a seated person, of high acceleration whose component in the axis of the spinal column is oriented upwards through the pelvis.
I am also wondering about the wording here. Does this really mean that they believe that the passengers recovered had to have been seated at impact. Does the bit "throughout the cabin" refer to seat allocation - are they implying that this force was applied to all the passengers (and hence the cabin was still in one piece) rather than the passengers were actually seating. And it is difficult to know what the injuries were and were not compatible with when we don't know the injuries. Maybe I am over-reading this, but the wording is a bit odd.
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