An Air France Airbus A330-200 may have been lost or gone down due to power failure, cabin pressurization or maybe a bomb related explosion, weather and lightning and severe thunderstorms might be a more legitimate cause of this one. A bomb threat was called into Air France after departure of the flight but it's too early and it would only be speculative. As updates become available I will post them and add my 2 cents about what could be going on.
Update: Tuesday, Jun 2nd 2009 2055Z
Brazilian military planes found a 3-mile path of wreckage in the Atlantic Ocean, confirming that an Air France jet carrying 228 people crashed in the sea, Defense Minister Nelson Jobim said Tuesday.
Jobim said the discovery "confirms that the plane went down in that area" hundreds of miles from the Brazilian archipelago of Fernando de Noronha.
He said the strip of wreckage included metallic and nonmetallic pieces, but did not describe them in detail. No bodies were spotted in the crash of the Airbus in which all aboard are believed to have died.
The discovery came just hours after authorities announced they had found an airplane an airplane seat, an orange buoy and signs of fuel in a part of the Atlantic Ocean with depths of up to three miles.
Jobim said recovery of the of the plane’s cockpit voice and data recorders could be difficult because of the depth of the ocean where the debris was found.
“It’s going to be very hard to search for it because it could be at a depth of 2,000 meters or 3,000 meters (1.2 miles to 1.8 miles) in that area of the ocean,” Jobim said.
The initial discovery of wreckage announced before Jobim spoke came about 36 hours after the jet went missing as it flew from Rio de Janeiro toward Paris.
Pilots may have tried to turn the planeA Brazilian air force spokesman said the two spots where debris was located suggested the pilots may have tried to turn the plane around to return to Fernando de Noronha.
“The locations where the objects were found are toward the right of the point where the last signal of the plane was emitted,” said the spokesman, Col. Jorge Amaral. “That suggests that it might have tried to make a turn, maybe to return to Fernando de Noronha, but that is just a hypothesis.”
Amaral said some of the debris was white and small, but did not describe it in more detail.
Jobim made the announcement after two commercial ships that joined the search late Tuesday morning reached sites where the debris was found, a Navy spokeswoman said.
“Once they come across the objects, they will be analyzed to determine if they are parts of the plane or just junk,” she said.
A U.S. Navy P-3C Orion surveillance plane and 21 crew members arrived in Brazil on Tuesday morning from El Salvador and was to begin overflying the zone in the afternoon, U.S. officials said in a statement. The plane can fly low over the ocean for about 12 hours at a time and has radar and sonar designed to track submarines underwater.
The French dispatched a research ship equipped with unmanned submarines to the debris site. The subs can explore depths of up to 19,600 feet (6,000 meters). The U.S. was considering contributing unmanned underwater vehicles in the search as well, according to a defense source who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.
Update: Tuesday, Jun 2nd 2009 13:30Z
Forca Aerea Brasileira (FAB) have confirmed in a press release, that one of the Hercules C-130 search airplanes sighted metallic and non-metallic debris on the ocean surface about 650km north of Fernando de Noronha Island at around 09:49Z. Two locations, about 60km apart have been identified. The debris has been identified as an airplane seat, small white pieces, an orange ball, a drum and traces of oil and kerosene. However, it is not possible at this time to identify those parts to have belonged to the missing Airbus A330-200.
"There is information that the pilot of a TAM aircraft saw several orange points on the ocean while flying over the region ... where the Air France plane disappeared," Amaral said, referring to the Brazilian airline TAM. "After arriving in Brazil, the pilot found out about the disappearance (of the Air France plane) and said that he thought those points on the ocean were fire."
Members of a Brazilian military squad prepare to depart Monday to take part in the search for an Air France jet that disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean.
PARIS (Reuters) – An Air France plane with 228 people on board was presumed to have crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on Monday after hitting stormy weather during a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.
The airline offered its condolences to the families of the passengers, making clear it did not expect any rescue.
"It's a tragic accident. The chances of finding survivors are tiny," French President Nicolas Sarkozy said at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport after meeting passenger relatives.
The plane was packed with 216 passengers including seven children and one baby, Air France said. Most of them were French or Brazilian but they included around 20 Germans and several other nationalities. Twelve crew members were also on board
The full Airbus jet flew into storms and heavy turbulence four hours after take-off from Rio and 15 minutes later sent an automatic message reporting electrical faults, the airline said.
There was no sign that the crew had sent a mayday message or any indication that signal-emitting emergency locators had activated on impact as is normally the case in crashes.
A company spokesman said several of the plane's mechanisms had malfunctioned.
"It is probably a combination of circumstances that could have led to the crash," he said, adding that the airliner might have been hit by lightning.
Air France's manager in Rio de Janeiro, Jorge Assuncao, told reporters that the two biggest groups of nationalities aboard were Brazilian and French. Other passengers were American, Angolan, Argentine, Belgian, British, Chinese, Filipino, German, Irish, Italian, Moroccan, Norwegian, Spanish and Slovakian.
Senior French minister Jean-Louis Borloo ruled out a hijacking, saying the plane would have landed somewhere, but said it was too early to exclude any other scenario.
The Brazilian air force said the plane was far out over the sea when it went missing.
If no survivors are found it will be the worst loss of life involving an Air France plane in the firm's 75-year history.
-Luiz Roberto Anastacio, 50; Brazilian; president for South America, Michelin
-Aisling Butler, 26; Irish, of Roscrea, Ireland; doctor
-Brad Clemes, 49; Canadian from Guelph, Ontario; Coca-Cola executive
-Arthur Coakley, 61; British; structural engineer for PDMS
-Jane Deasy, 27; Irish; doctor
-Pedro Luis de Orleans e Braganca, 26; Brazilian; descendent of Brazil's last emperor
-Antonio Gueiros; Brazilian; information systems director, Michelin
-Michael Harris, 60; American, from Lafayette, Louisiana; geologist
-Anne Harris; American, from Lafayette, Louisiana
-Erich Heine, 41; South African-born; member of executive board of ThyssenKrupp Steel AG
-Claus-Peter Hellhammer, 28; employee of ThyssenKrupp Steel AG based in Germany
_Giovanni Battista Lenzi, Trentino area, Italy
-Zoran Markovic, 45; Croatian, from Kostelji, Croatia; sailor
-Christine Pieraerts; French; engineer at Michelin
-Eithne Walls, 29; Irish; doctor
_Rino Zandonai; Trentino area, Italy.
-Luigi Zortea; Trentino area, Italy.
INTERNATIONAL SEARCH EFFORT
Military planes took off from the island of Fernando de Noronha off Brazil's northeast coast to look for it and the Brazilian navy sent three ships to help in the search.
France sent one of its air force planes from west Africa and several ships. Sarkozy said Spain was helping in the mission and Paris had asked the United States to assist in locating the crash site using U.S. satellite data.
"It seems the zone has been identified down to within 10 nautical miles," Borloo said on France 2 state television.
The plane left Rio de Janeiro on Sunday at 2200 GMT (6 p.m. EDT).
On its flight northeast from Rio, the aircraft would have had to pass through a notorious storm patch shifting around the equator known as the Intertropical Convergence Zone.
"It is a zone in the tropics where you can have particularly deep thunder clouds," said Barry Gromett, a meteorologist at the London Weather Center.
Air France Flight 447, a 4-year-old Airbus A330, left Rio on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. local time with 216 passengers and 12 crew members on board, said company spokeswoman Brigitte Barrand.
The plane left Brazil radar contact, past the Fernando de Noronha archipelago, about three hours later, indicating it was flying normally at 35,000 feet and traveling at 522 mph.
Executives from French tire company Michelin and from the Brazil unit of German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp were among the passengers, the companies said.
The plane was an Airbus 330-200 powered with General Electric engines. If the plane is confirmed to have crashed, it would be the first time an A330 has been lost during an operational airline flight. Tearful relatives were led away by airport staff in Paris to a private area where psychologists were ready to assist them.
Search continues for missing jet June 1: Search and rescue attempts continue across a wide stretch of the Atlantic Ocean after an Air France jet is believed to have hit severe turbulence near the equator. NBC's Tom Costello reports.
Air France said the plane had 18,870 flight hours on the clock and went into service in April 2005. It last underwent maintenance in a hangar in April this year. The pilots were also very experienced, the airline said.
The last incident with major loss of life involving an Air France plane was in July 2000 when one of its Concorde supersonic airliners crashed just after taking off from Paris, bound for New York.
At least 113 people died in the disaster.