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Missing Air France airliner's passengers include one Canadian


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Air France jet hits thunderstorms over Atlantic; Canadian among missing

2 hours, 16 minutes ago
By The Associated Press

SAO PAULO, Brazil - An Air France jet carrying 228 people from Rio de Janeiro to Paris ran into a towering wall of thunderstorms and disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean. French President Nicolas Sarkozy told families of those aboard Monday that "prospects of finding survivors are very small."

Air France officials have confirmed that a Canadian was on board the plane. Radio station CJOY in Guelph, Ont., says the passenger was a man with family members in the city.

The area where the plane could have gone down is vast, in the middle of very deep Atlantic Ocean waters between Brazil and the coast of Africa. Brazil's military searched for it off its northeast coast, while the French military scoured the ocean near the Cape Verde Islands off the West African coast.

If all 228 were killed, it would be the world's deadliest commercial airline disaster since 2001.

Sarkozy, speaking at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport, said the cause is unclear and that "no hypothesis" is being excluded. He called it "a catastrophe like Air France has never before known."

"(I met with) a mother who lost her son, a fiancee who lost her future husband. I told them the truth," he said.

Sarkozy said "it will be very difficult" to find the plane because the zone where it is believed to have disappeared "is immense." He said France has asked for U.S. satellite help to locate the plane.

Chief Air France spokesman Francois Brousse said "it is possible" the plane was hit by lightning, but aviation experts expressed doubt that a bolt of lightning was enough to bring the plane down.

Air France Flight 447, a four-year-old Airbus A330, left Rio Sunday night with 216 passengers and 12 crew members on board, said company spokeswoman Brigitte Barrand.

The plane indicated it was still flying normally more than three hours later as it left Brazil radar contact, beyond the Fernando de Noronha archipelago, at 10:48 local time (9:48 p.m. EDT). It was flying at 10,670 metres and travelling at 840 km/h.

About a half-hour later, the plane "crossed through a thunderous zone with strong turbulence." It sent an automatic message fourteen minutes later, reporting electrical failure and a loss of cabin pressure.

Air France told Brazilian authorities the last information they heard was that automated message, reporting a technical problem before the plane reached a monitoring station near the Cape Verde islands. Brazilian, African, Spanish and French air traffic controllers tried in vain to establish contact with the plane, the company said.

Brazilian Air Force spokesman Col. Jorge Amaral said seven aircraft had been deployed to search the area far off the northeastern Brazilian coast. Brazil's navy sent three ships.

"We want to try to reach the last point where the aircraft made contact, which is about 745 miles (1,200 kilometres) northeast of Natal," Amaral told Globo TV.

Meteorologists said tropical storms are much more violent than thunderstorms in the United States and elsewhere.

"Tropical thunderstorms ... can tower up to 50,000 feet (15,240 metres). At the altitude it was flying, it's possible that the Air France plane flew directly into the most charged part of the storm - the top," Henry Margusity, senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.com, said in a statement.

Portuguese air control authorities say the missing plane did not make contact with controllers in Portugal's mid-Atlantic Azores Islands nor, as far as they know, with other Atlantic air traffic controllers in Cape Verde, Casablanca, or the Canary islands.

In Washington, a Pentagon official said he'd seen no indication that terrorism or foul play was involved. He spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the subject.

The 216 passengers included 126 men, 82 women, seven children and a baby, Air France said. There were 61 French and 58 Brazilians; 30 other countries were represented, including two Americans and the one Canadian.

In Brazil, sobbing relatives were flown to Rio de Janeiro, where Air France was assisting the families. Andres Fernandes, his eyes tearing up, said a relative "was supposed to be on the flight, but we need to confirm it," Globo TV reported.

At the Charles de Gaulle airport north of Paris, family members declined to speak to reporters and were brought to a cordoned-off crisis centre.

Air France said it expressed "its sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew members" aboard Flight 447. The airline did not explicitly say there were no survivors, leaving that subject to Sarkozy.

Air France-KLM CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon said the pilot had 11,000 hours of flying experience, including 1,700 hours flying this aircraft.

Experts said the absence of a mayday call meant something happened very quickly.

"The conclusion to be drawn is that something catastrophic happened on board that has caused this airplane to ditch in a controlled or an uncontrolled fashion," Jane's Aviation analyst Chris Yates told The Associated Press. "Potentially it went down very quickly and so quickly that the pilot on board didn't have a chance to make that emergency call."

But aviation experts said the risk the plane was brought down by lightning was slim.

"Lightning issues have been considered since the beginning of aviation. They were far more prevalent when aircraft operated at low altitudes. They are less common now since it's easier to avoid thunderstorms," said Bill Voss, president and CEO of Flight Safety Foundation, Alexandria, Va.

He said planes have specific measures built in to help dissipate electricity along the aircraft's skin, and are tested for resistance to big electromagnetic shocks and equipped to resist them. He said the plane should be found, because it has backup locators that should continue to function even in deep water.

If all 228 people were killed, it would be the deadliest commercial airline disaster since Nov. 12, 2001, when an American Airlines jetliner crashed in the New York City borough of Queens during a flight to the Dominican Republic, killing 265 people. On Feb. 19, 2003, 275 people were killed in the crash of an Iranian military plane carrying members of the Revolutionary Guards as it prepared to land at Kerman airport in Iran.

The worst single-plane disaster was in 1985 when a Japan Air Lines Boeing 747 crashed into a mountainside after losing part of its tail fin, killing 520 people.

"Our thoughts are with the passengers and with the families of the passengers," said Airbus spokeswoman Maggie Bergsma.

She said it was the first fatal accident of a A330-200 since a test flight in 1994 went wrong, killing seven people in Toulouse.

The Airbus A330-200 is a twin-engine, long-haul, medium-capacity passenger jet that can hold up to 253 passengers. There are 341 in use worldwide, flying up to 12,500 kilometres a trip.

GE Aviation spokesman Rick Kennedy discounted engine trouble as a possible cause. He said the plane's CF6-80E engine "is the most popular and reliable engine that we have for big airplanes in the world," and is being used in more than 15,000 airplanes.
French plane lost in ocean storm


An Air France plane carrying 228 people from Brazil to France has vanished over the Atlantic
after flying into turbulence, airline officials say. The Airbus sent an automatic message at
0214 GMT, four hours after leaving Rio de Janeiro, reporting a short circuit. It may have been
damaged by lightning.

It was well over the ocean when it was lost, making Brazilian and French search planes' task
more difficult. France's president said the chances of finding survivors were "very small".
Lightning theory doubts

The Airbus 330-200 had been expected to arrive in Paris at 1110 local time (0910 GMT).
It made its last radio contact with Brazilian air traffic controllers at 0133 GMT
(2233 Brazilian time) when it was 565km (360m) off Brazil's north-eastern coast, Brazil's
air force said.

The crew said they were planning to enter Senegalese airspace at 0220 GMT and
that the plane was flying normally at an altitude of 10,670m (35,000ft).

At about 0200 GMT, the captain reported entering heavy turbulence caused by Atlantic storms,
French media report.

At 0220, when Brazilian air traffic controllers saw the plane had not made its required radio
call from Senegalese airspace, air traffic control in the Senegalese capital was contacted.

At 0530 GMT, Brazil's air force launched a search-and-rescue mission, sending out a coast guard
patrol plane and a specialised air force rescue aircraft.

France is despatching three search planes based in Dakar, Senegal, and has asked the US to help
with satellite technology. "The plane might have been struck by lightning - it's a possibility," Francois
Brousse, head of communications at Air France, told reporters in Paris.

David Gleave, from Aviation Safety Investigations, told the BBC that planes were routinely struck by
lightning, and the cause of the crash remained a mystery. "Aeroplanes get hit by lightning on quite a
routine basis without generally any problems occurring at all," he told BBC Radio Five Live. "Whether
it's related to this electrical storm and the electrical failure on the aeroplane, or whether it's another
reason, we have to find the aeroplane first." France's minister responsible for transportation, Jean-Louis
Borloo, ruled out hijacking as a cause of the plane's loss.

Tom Symonds, BBC News transport correspondent

The Airbus A330 airliner is likely to have begun its journey tracking the coast of Brazil northwards
before striking out across the Atlantic. A few hundred miles from the shore, radar coverage peters
out - from there on, crews use high frequency radio to report their position.

The Brazilian Air Force says the plane left radar screens near the islands of Fernando de Noronha,
230 miles from the coast. The firmest clue to its fate comes from the data message sent via a
satellite network at 0214 GMT reporting electrical and pressurisation problems. This suggests whatever
happened, happened before the crew could put out a mayday radio call. It was likely a sudden and
catastrophic emergency. Even a double engine failure at cruising altitude would normally give the crew
around half an hour's gliding time.

Air France says the plane may have been struck by lightning - the cause of around a dozen major air
crashes in the last 50 years - but it rarely results in tragedy. More likely lightning damaged electrical
systems, possibly leading indirectly to the plane's ditching.

Although passengers survived a landing on the Hudson River in New York in January - it is rarely
successful, especially in the middle of an ocean the size of the Atlantic.

Mystery surrounding Air France flight


The disappearance of Air France 447 is shrouded in an air of mystery that sets it apart
from other aircraft disasters. Nearly all air crashes take place at or near airports - during
take-off or landing. But the Airbus 330 came down four hours out of Rio de Janeiro, somewhere
in a vast area of the Atlantic Ocean.

There was no distress signal.

The first Air France officials knew of something being wrong was when the plane failed to turn up
on radar in Senegal. For many hours it was possible to think that AF447 had had a communications
failure, or that it had made a forced landing at sea, or even that it had been hijacked.

For a time the arrivals board at Charles de Gaulle airport bore the word "delayed" - as if to keep alive
as long as possible the dwindling hope of a miracle. The suffering of family members having to face the
appalling reality can only be imagined. But it must have been made worse by the absence of any clear
information about what has happened. Until wreckage is found, no-one is officially dead.

'Totally routine'

In the absence of news, the airwaves have been crammed with all the regular disaster coverage: the coy
intrusiveness of the television cameras, the repeated interviews with experts, the desperate hunt for a
new angle - like the miracle couple who missed the plane because of a late taxi - in order to vary the
fodder. Consensus quickly developed that the most likely cause of the accident was a lightning strike.

But as more than one expert pointed out, if lightning alone caused planes to crash, then few people would
be so foolhardy as to risk flying. "For a plane to get hit by lightning is totally routine," said Pierre Sparaco,
a member of the French Air and Space Academy. "That is not enough to explain it. There must be a missing
link. It is clearly something and something. "Accident investigators talk always of a 'sequence of catastrophic
events', and sequence is the key word," he said. "It is not this thing or that thing that went wrong. It is this
thing going wrong, leading to that thing going wrong etc etc."

Danger zone

According to Mr Sparaco, even in a worst case scenario, with lightning wiping out all the electronics, a
modern airliner is still flyable. "Something kicks in called the RAM air system, in which a small propeller
descends and because of the speed of the plane generates enough electricity to run vital instruments.
"So even if there is a total power failure the pilot can still fly by wire long enough to get to land."

Meteorologists have been called in to explain what else might have happened, the extra factor that might
have come on top of the lightning. The accident took place in a turbulent area along the equator known as
the Intertropical Convergence zone. The zone has long been feared by sailors and aviators. In French, it is
called the "pot au noir", meaning the murky cauldron.

According to meteorologist Pierre Lasnais, the zone "is prone to storms and lightning, but also to
mini-cyclonic phenomena, which create extremely strong up currents, as well as hail stones that can be
bigger than tennis-balls". "It's possible for a plane to be exposed to lightning, and at the same to be caught
in an up current which can reach speeds of 200 km/h," he says. "You can imagine the effect that has on a
plane - complete depressurisation of course, almost uncontrollable," he said. But all this is the purest

Because until they find it, no-one can talk with any authority about what really happened to Flight 447.

Timeline of Flight AF 447


Details are emerging of the events leading up to the disappearance of an Air France flight from Brazil to
France in the early hours of Monday. Flight AF 447 left Rio de Janeiro, bound for Paris, at 1900 local time
(2200 GMT) on Sunday 31 May. The aircraft in question, an Airbus A330-200 with registration F-GZCP, had
been in operation since April 2005. Shortly after the aircraft's scheduled arrival time in Paris of 1110 local
time (0910 GMT), it was announced that the flight was missing.

Here is what is known so far:

2200 GMT, Sunday 31 May: AF 447 takes off from Rio de Janeiro's Galeao International Airport,
heading for Paris Charles de Gaulle.

0133 GMT, Monday 1 June: Last radar contact with flight AF 447, according to the Brazilian air force.
The jet had just passed the Fernando de Noronha islands, about 350 km (217 miles) off the coast of Brazil.

0200 GMT: The aircraft crossed through a "thunderous zone with strong turbulence" according to an
Air France statement.

0214 GMT: According to the airline, an automated message was received indicating an "electrical
circuit malfunction" on board.

0715 GMT: Air France decided "the situation was serious", according to the airline's chief executive
Pierre Henri Gourgeon. Plans to establish a crisis centre are drawn up.

0910 GMT: Aircraft was due to land at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.

0935 GMT: Paris airport officials announce to the public that flight AF 447 is missing.

1017 GMT: Brazil's air force confirms a search and rescue operation is under way near the Brazilian
island of Fernando de Noronha.

1036 GMT: Air France confirms it is "without news" from the aircraft.

1116 GMT: Senior French minister Jean-Louis Borloo says the plane would have run out of fuel by
this point, and adds: "We must now envisage the most tragic scenario." He rules out a hijacking.

1140 GMT: Brazil's air force says Flight AF 447 was "well advanced" over the Atlantic Ocean when
it went missing.

1142 GMT: Air France confirms it received a message about an electrical fault from the aircraft.

1213 GMT: Air France suggests the electrical fault may have been caused by the plane suffering
a lightning strike.

1303 GMT: Prime Minister Gordon Brown says he fears British citizens may be on board the aircraft.

1515 GMT: It is reported that most of the 228 people on board the missing airliner are Brazilian,
while at least 40 are French and 20 are German, according to a French minister.

1632 GMT: An Air France spokesman confirms there are 80 Brazilians on board the missing plane,
as well as German, Italian, American, Chinese, British and Spanish citizens.

1651 GMT: French President Nicolas Sarkozy says the prospect of finding survivors from the flight
is "very slim".

1810 GMT: Air France releases the full passenger list, showing that most of those aboard are
Brazilians or French. There are 32 nationalities in all.


Air France passenger list

Press release N° 5

Air France is now able to confirm the nationalities of the passengers who were on board flight AF 447 on 31
May 2009, which disappeared between Rio de Janeiro and Paris-Charles de Gaulle.  This list is based on the
information provided by the Brazilian Authorities.

    * 2 American
    * 1 Argentinian
    * 1 Austrian
    * 1 Belgian
    * 58 Brazilian
    * 5 British
    * 1 Canadian
    * 9 Chinese
    * 1 Croatian
    * 1 Danish
    * 1 Dutch
    * 1 Estonian
    * 1 Filipino
    * 61 French
    * 1 Gambian
    * 26 German
    * 4 Hungarian
    * 3 Irish
    * 1 Icelandic
    * 9 Italian
    * 5 Lebanese
    * 2 Moroccan
    * 3 Norwegians
    * 2 Polish
    * 1 Romanian
    * 1 Russian
    * 3 Slovakian
    * 1 South African
    * 2 Spanish
    * 1 Swedish
    * 6 Swiss
    * 1 Turkish

Airline received bomb threat, CTV (in the middle of the page)

Investigators Head to Jet Wreckage, NY Times
Among the Victims on Air France Flight, Doctors, Dancers and Royalty, NY Times
Victims Include Those Who Flocked to Brazil for Business, and a Royal, Wall Street journal
Brazil navy arrives in ocean zone, BBC News

Plane doomed by massive system failures: report, CTV

Messages sent by an Air France jet shortly before it disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean suggest
that the plane may have broken up while still in the air as it passed through a violent storm system,
according to a report published in a Brazilian newspaper.

Air France flight 447, with 228 passengers and crew on board, went missing Sunday night after it
lost contact with ground controllers during a flight from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Paris, France. A
chronology of messages sent by the plane was published Wednesday in Brazil's O Estado de S. Paulo
newspaper, with information credited to an anonymous source at Air France.

According to the story, a message from the pilot sent at 11 p.m. local time indicated the plane was flying
through "CBs," black, electrically charged cumulonimbus clouds that are accompanied by high winds and
lightening. At that time, thunderheads were producing 160 kilometre-per-hour updrafts into the airplane's
flight path, according to satellite data.

About 10 minutes after the 11 p.m. message, the plane generated a number of automatic messages, which
indicate that the pilot had disengaged. It also appears that the so-called "fly-by-wire" computer system had
moved to alternate power and there was damage to controls that maintain the plane's stability. Alarms
signifying damage to flight systems also sounded, the newspaper reported. Three minutes later,
another burst of automatic messages showed that systems used by pilots to monitor air speed, altitude
and direction had failed.

The last message, which signalled a loss of air pressure and an electrical failure, was sent at 11:14 p.m.
This message has already been confirmed by the Brazilian air force, and could indicate that the cabin was
rapidly depressurizing or that the plane was crashing into the ocean, the newspaper reported.

Both Air France and Brazilian military officials would not confirm the accuracy of the report. If the details
of the report are true, experts said, it could mean that the plane broke apart mid-air.

"These are telling us the story of the crash. They are not explaining what happened to cause the crash,"
Bill Voss, president and CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation, told the Associated Press. "This is the
documentation of the seconds when control was lost and the aircraft started to break up in air."

Deep-sea challenge of Air France debris, BBC News

The remains of the Air France jet which went missing over the Atlantic on Monday are
in very deep water, making the job of finding them extremely difficult, not to mention
any attempt to salvage the aircraft and the bodies of those who were on board.

A French government minister has said the black box flight recorders are believed to
be at a depth of between 3,660m (12,000 ft) and 3,700m. At this depth, pressure is
immense and there is no daylight. Any search to locate the flight recorders and any
plane wreckage will involve a number of technologies. Below we outline the main
methods of salvaging wrecks, from divers to the latest deep sea exploratory vehicles.


Scuba diver: US Navy divers were used to retrieve bodies and light debris from
TWA flight 800 which crashed into the Atlantic off New York in 1996. The plane was
discovered at a depth of 40m, within the maximum operating depth for divers which
is typically 50m.

Bathymetric survey: This is a sonar device placed beneath a ship that would sail
in a designated pattern over an area to map the seabed. It "looks" straight down to
produce a 3-D map of the seabed but can only operate up to a depth of 1,000m.

Pinger Locator System: This is a specialised listening device that is towed at a depth
of up to 4,000m by a ship. The device listens out for the sound of the pinger which is
part of the flight recorder. It is activated on contact with sea water and every commercial
aircraft carries one. It will emit a signal for up to 30 days.

Side Scan Sonar: Once the pinger is located, a more detailed survey of the area can
be carried out. The SSS is a cigar-shaped tube that is towed by a ship to map the seabed
in a designated pattern. "You attach it to a cable and you mow the lawn," says Tim Janaitis,
Director of Business Development at Phoenix International, a specialist marine salvage
company. Mr Janaitis said he believed only the US Navy had the sophisticated pinger
locator system to operate at the depth the Air France aeroplane is believed to be.

Remote Operated Vehicle: These are highly sophisticated yet robust underwater vehicles
that can operate at depths up to 6,000m. They have video and powerful lights to illuminate
the gloomy deep waters that they operate in. They can also have mechanical arms attached
that allow the ROV to pick up bits of debris or attach straps to enable a ship's winch to lift
the item to the surface. Phoenix International says it has raised a portion of an Israeli
submarine weighing 3,600kg from a depth of 3,000m. The US navy has raised an entire
helicopter from a depth of 6,000m.

Mini submarine: France has dispatched a boat with a mini-submarine, the Nautile, aboard.
This can operate at a depth of 6,000m, but it was not expected to reach the zone until early
next week.

Mystery deepens over missing Air France jet

FERNANDO DE NORONHA, Brazil (AFP) - Conflicting clues to the cause of the loss of an Air France jet
and the 228 people on board emerged on Thursday, deepening the mystery as the hunt for evidence

A Spanish pilot flying in the same area as the Rio-Paris flight when it plunged into the Atlantic spoke
of an "intense flash", while a Brazilian minister appeared to rule out a mid-air explosion. Meanwhile,
a report in France suggested the pilots may have been flying at the "wrong speed" to deal with the
fierce thunderstorm that they flew into in the early hours of Monday before the airliner's systems
suddenly failed.

In a brief report on its website, the newspaper Le Monde said plane maker Airbus was preparing to
send a warning to the operators of the hundreds of A330 jets in the world with new advice on flying
in storms. Airbus refused to comment on the report, which cited a "source close to the crash inquiry"
as saying that AF 447 had been flying at the "wrong" speed, but a company official told AFP that it
was usual to update airlines.

"Each time there's an accident, it is imperative for the manufacturer to inform all operators of the
type of aircraft concerned of any specific procedures to put in place or any checks to carry out,"
he said. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said such warnings -- called Accident
Information Telexes -- were overseen by crash investigators from France's BEA aviation safety
agency before being sent out.

"If the BEA is making a recommendation so early, it's because they know very well what happened,"
retired pilot Jean Serrat told AFP. "If the BEA is reminding pilots not to slow down too much, does
that mean that the Rio-Paris slowed down too much?" he wondered.

The captain of a Spanish airliner claimed to have seen "an intense flash of white light" in the area
where the plane was lost, his airline Air Comet said, confirming a report in the daily El Mundo.
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 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 in six seconds," the unidentified captain wrote.

But while the Spanish pilot's account seemed to indicate there had been a mid-air fire or explosion,
Brazil's defence minister said the presence of a fuel slick found in the ocean by spotter planes
suggested otherwise. Nelson Jobim said late Wednesday that the 20-kilometer (12-mile) long
kerosene trail "means that it is improbable that there was a fire or explosion" because the
high-octane jet fuel would have ignited. But he admitted this was "just a hypothesis" and
stressed that four days after the plane flew into a ferocious thunder storm midway between
South America and Africa, the mystery of what happened was far from being solved.

Answers may lie in the plane's black box data and cockpit voice recorders, but they are likely
resting on the rugged sea bottom, at least 3,000 meters below Atlantic waters still whipped up
by foul weather. It would be extremely difficult -- maybe impossible -- to recover them even
if the 200-kilometer wide search area were narrowed down, experts said. Two Brazilian navy
vessels are in the area, 1,000 kilometers off Brazil's northeast coast, officials said. An air
force plane has found more and bigger debris from the flight some distance from where other
items were spotted.

No bodies have yet been found and French planes have yet to spot any wreckage themselves.

Three other Brazilian vessels, including a tanker able to keep the flotilla in the area for weeks,
and a French ship with mini-submarines were to arrive in the coming days. A memorial service
was to be held for the 216 passengers from 32 countries and 12 crew in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday,
with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner attending.

France, which lost 72 nationals, the biggest group on the plane, is leading the probe into the disaster.
Two French investigators are already at work in Brazil, which lost 58 nationals.
Brazil says 17 bodies recovered from jet crash
Associated Press Wire
07 June -  5:32 pm

RECIFE, Brazil – Brazilian military authorities say search boats scouring the Atlantic Ocean have now recovered 17 bodies of passengers on a doomed Air France flight that crashed a week ago.

Air Force Col. Henry Munhoz says four of the bodies were men and four were women. He did not immediately provide information about the gender of the other bodies. The flight was carrying 228 people when it crashed the night of May 31.

Munhoz also told reporters Sunday night that several structural parts of the Airbus 330 were recovered at the location from which Flight 447 sent a burst of messages saying it was having electrical problems and loss of cabin pressure.
And the French Navy/Le Marine Nationale joins in the search with the use of a submarine to look for the missing black boxes.


RECIFE, Brazil – A French nuclear submarine reached the crash zone of Air France Flight 447 on Wednesday to join the search for the plane's black boxes, which may be the key to determining what brought the Airbus down in the sea off Brazil with 228 people on board.

The attack sub Emeraude plans to trawl 13 square miles (35 square kilometers) a day, using sonar to try to pick up the boxes' acoustic beacons or "pingers," French armed forces spokesman Christophe Prazuck said Wednesday.

It's a race against time, because the beacons will start to fade 30 days after the May 31 crash. If the boxes are spotted, the Emeraude will work with the mini-sub Nautile, which can descend to the ocean floor and was a key part of the search for the Titanic.

"There are big uncertainties about the accident site, the ocean floor is rugged ... so it's going to be very difficult," Prazuck told France-Info radio. "It's going to be very complicated and we're going to need a lot of luck" to find the black boxes.

The French submarines will be aided by two U.S. underwater audio devices capable of picking up signals even at a depth of 20,000 feet (6,100 meters).

U.S. Air Force Col. Willie Berges, commander of the American military forces supporting the search operation, said the first of two U.S. towed pinger locators is being loaded onto a search ship Wednesday in the northern city of Natal.

He said the Dutch ship contracted by French investigators will head out tomorrow and arrive in the search area by Sunday.

The listening devices will be slowly towed in a grid pattern while a 10-person team aboard the vessel watches monitors receiving signals from the locators.

Berges said the second ship is expected to arrive at the port city this weekend.

A total of 41 bodies have been recovered so far from the scene of the crash, about 400 miles (640 kilometers) northeast of the Fernando de Noronha islands off Brazil's northern coast. The remains are being flown daily to Recife, where investigators hope to identify them and uncover clues into the crash based on the victims' injuries.

Prazuck told Associated Press Television News that a French frigate, the Ventose, had already gathered 130 pieces of debris, big and small. The debris was being cleaned of salt and was to be taken to an undisclosed location for further analysis, he said.

Without key information from the Airbus A330's missing data recorders, investigators have focused on the possibility that external speed monitors — Pitot tubes — iced over and gave false readings to the plane's computers as it flew into thunderstorms.

Airlines around the world have begun replacing Pitot tubes on their aircraft. And the European Aviation Safety Agency, responsible for the certification of Airbus planes, said it was "analyzing data with a view to issuing mandatory corrective action" following reports about the possible malfunctioning of the Pitot tubes. But it also said the A330 and other Airbus aircraft are safe to operate.

The Pitot monitors had not yet been replaced on the A330 that was destroyed en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

The agency issued a precautionary bulletin Tuesday reminding operators of the correct procedure if speed indications are unreliable or missing.

"We are aware of issues with this in the past, but at no time were they classified as safety-critical," said Daniel Hoeltgen, the agency's spokesman.

An important part of the investigation relies on a burst of 24 automatic messages the plane sent during the last minutes of the flight. The signals showed the plane's autopilot was not on, officials said, but it was not clear if the autopilot had been switched off by the pilots or had stopped working due to conflicting airspeed readings.

The L-shaped metal Pitot tubes jut from the wing or fuselage of a plane, and are usually heated to prevent icing. The pressure of air entering the tubes lets internal sensors measure the speed and angle of flight. A malfunctioning tube could mislead computers controlling the plane to dangerously accelerate or decelerate.

Air France said it began replacing the tubes on its A330 and A340 jets in May after pilots reported several incidents of icing leading to a loss of airspeed data, and that it had already replaced the Pitots in smaller A320 jets after similar problems were reported.

"What we know is that other planes that have experienced incorrect airspeed indications have had the same Pitots. And airplanes with the new Pitot tubes have never had such problems," said Air France pilot Eric Derivry, a spokesman for the SNPL pilots union.

On Tuesday, the airline assured its pilots that none of its A330s or A340s would fly without at least two of the new instruments, and that all Air France A330s and A340s will have all three Pitots replaced by July. Brazil's air force said it is replacing them for the president's jet.

About 70 airlines operate some 600 A330 planes similar to the doomed Air France jet, and the Pitots being replaced are made by France's Thales Group.

From Germany, more confirmation came Wednesday about rough weather over the Atlantic along the same route as the Air France crash. Lufthansa confirmed a report in Stern magazine that a passenger was injured when a Sao Paulo-to-Frankfurt flight hit turbulence off the Brazilian coast two days before the Air France crash.

"One can generally expect turbulence on this route," Lufthansa spokesman Michael Lamberty said Wednesday.

In an apparently unrelated incident, a smaller model Airbus A320 experienced undisclosed engine trouble shortly after taking off Wednesday from the Canary Islands and was forced to make an emergency landing, Spain's national airport authority AENA said.

The Spanish Iberworld airliner was headed from Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria to Oslo, Norway, AENA spokeswoman Karen Martel said from the island. No one was hurt and the plane was in the air about 10 minutes, she told The Associated Press.

The passengers were taken off the plane and the company planned to put them on a different one bound for Oslo at midday, Martel said.


Associated Press writer Marco Sibaja reported from Recife and Emma Vandore from Paris. Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Alan Clendenning in Sao Paulo, Bradley Brooks in Rio de Janeiro, David Rising in Berlin and Adam Schreck in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, as well as Charlotte Coulon of Associated Press Television News in Paris.
Terror Names Linked To Doomed Flight AF 447
3:58pm UK, Wednesday June 10, 2009

Peter Allen, in Paris
Two passengers with names linked to Islamic terrorism were on the Air France flight which crashed with the loss of 228 lives, it has emerged.
French secret servicemen established the connection while working through the list of those who boarded the doomed Airbus in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 31.

Flight AF 447 crashed in the mid-Atlantic en route to Paris during a violent storm.

While it is certain there were computer malfunctions, terrorism has not been ruled out.

Soon after news of the fatal crash broke, agents working for the DGSE (Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure), the French equivalent of MI6, were dispatched to Brazil.

It was there that they established that two names on the passenger list are also on highly-classified documents listing the names of radical Muslims considered a threat to the French Republic.

A source working for the French security services told Paris weekly L'Express that the link was "highly significant".

Agents are now trying to establish dates of birth for the two dead passengers, and family connections.

There is a possibility the name similarities are simply a "macabre coincidence", the source added, but the revelation is still being "taken very seriously".

France has received numerous threats from Islamic terrorist groups in recent months, especially since French troops were sent to fight in Afghanistan.

Security chiefs have been particularly worried about airborne suicide attacks similar to the ones on the US on September 11, 2001.
Atlantic crash bodies identified, BBC News


Officials in Brazil have identified the first 11 of 50 bodies recovered
from the Air France disaster in which 228 people died three weeks ago.
The bodies were those of 10 Brazilians and one male foreigner, officials
said. They gave no further details.

The Airbus A330 plunged in the Atlantic on 1 June. The data recorders
have not been found, and the cause of the crash remains a mystery.

Search teams from several countries are still scanning the search area.
Investigators are reviewing the bodies and debris at a base set up in
the northern Brazilian city of Recife. Five of the victims were identified
as Brazilian men, five as Brazilian women and one as a "foreigner of
the male sex", local officials said on Sunday.

Speculation about what caused the plane to go down between Rio de
Janeiro and Paris has so far focused on the possibility that the airspeed
sensors, known as pitot tubes, were not working. The plane is known to
have registered inconsistent speed readings just before it crashed in
turbulent weather.
Crashed AF447 flight-data recorder found and retrieved By David Kaminski-Morrow

Search teams have located and recovered the flight-data recorder from the crashed Air France Airbus A330-200, a month before the second anniversary of the accident.

The crucial cylindrical memory unit, which had been missing when the chassis of the recorder was originally located, was found during a dive operation by a remote underwater vehicle on 1 May.

French investigation agency Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses states that the unit has been "raised and lifted on board" the recovery vessel Ile de Sein, which is supporting the search.

BEA says the device was located at 10:00UTC and retrieved at 16:40UTC.

There are no immediate details as to the condition of the flight-data recorder, or whether the information from the 1 June 2009 crash has been preserved.

BEA has not indicated whether it is has localised the cockpit-voice recorder from the aircraft, which crashed in the South Atlantic while operating flight AF447 between Rio de Janeiro and Paris.




Interesting photos.  I am curious that the Flight Recorder is sitting all by itself in the sand, and not attached to some other mangled wreckage.  Just seems odd to me.
Oops! I should have posted this one before the previous.
My appologies for the mishaps.



AF447 flight-data recorder found but memory unit missing   By David Kaminski-Morrow

Search teams trying to locate the flight recorders from Air France flight AF447 have located the flight-data recorder, but not the critical memory unit.

The chassis of the recorder was located during the first dive operation by a remote underwater vehicle, the Remora 6000, after a recovery vessel arrived in the crash zone yesterday.

France's Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses states that the chassis of the flight-data recorder has been found on the sea bed "surrounded by debris from other parts of the airplane".

But the BEA adds that the crucial crash-survivable memory unit - in which the data from the aircraft's instruments is stored -was not attached.

There is no indication of the whereabouts of the cockpit-voice recorder.

Flight AF447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashed in the South Atlantic on 1 June 2009, sparking a two-year hunt for the Airbus A330-200's wreckage.