15 July 2009

Crash Update: Air France A332 over Atlantic on Jun 1st 2009, aircraft impacted ocean

The BEA has concluded their press conference introducing the results of their investigation and their preliminary report so far.The key sentences have been (according to simultaneous English translation by BEA):- No technical problems with the airplane before the takeoff.- The airplane did NOT break up in flight.-

The 24 ACARS messages refer to the loss of airspeed (pitot tubes)- The airplane also lost information about the direction the airplane was going to.- The airplane hit the ocean in a flat attitude at high vertical speed. - Weather was a classic ITZ scenario.Nothing had been found before June 6th, then the first bodies and parts have been found.

Parts from the nose to the tail of the airplane have been found including parts of the structural body of the airplane, one part of the engine and parts of the main cabin have been recovered. No clothes have been found, recovered life vests were not inflated. 51 bodies were recovered.One of the cockpit walls has been found deformed.

A large part of the crew rest room has been found, impact marks indicating that something came from the bottom up to the top. The debris recovered so far suggests, that the airplane did not break up in flight, but went down vertically.Three other flights (IB-6024 [A343, Rio De Janeiro GIG-Madrid MAD 12 minutes behind AF-447], LH-507 [B744, Sao Paulo GRU-Frankfurt FRA] 20 minutes behind AF-447, AF-459 [A332, Sao Paulo GRU-Paris CDG 37 minutes behind AF-447]) tracked the same route to TASIL between FL350 and FL370 around the time of the crash.

They all had to avoid storm cells and diverted from the airway between 11 and 80nm. They experienced moderate turbulence. All three flights had problems to establish communication with Dakar. There were no satellite phone conversations from those crews.The weather in the Intertropical Convergence Zone was a classic scenario with storm cells. The airplane had started the engines at 22:10Z and got airborne at 22:29Z. Last radio communication was at 01:35Z. No transfer had been completed from Rio's control to Dakar control. An attempt by the AF-447 crew to establish contact with Dakar Control has been detected at 02:01Z (the wording to the means of communication was unclear, supposedly it was a digital data transmission via ACARS). No distress call was detected.

First alerts were sent at around 8:30 (unclear whether GMT, local Europe, local Brazil).The BEA refuses to believe, the black boxes would not be found, however stated, that the search for the recorders will be terminated on July 10th.The Original BEA English translation said: The airplane went down vertically, a review of French wording offers a different picture however stating, that the airplane came down in a flat attitude at high vertical speed.The full preliminary report has just been published: French Version (13MB) and English Version (3MB).

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