Friday, June 5, 2009

Debris, Oil Slick from Air France Flight Found off Brazilian Coast

Debris, Oil Slick from Air France Flight Found off Brazilian Coast

(Source The Chosun Ilbo English, Korean Daily News) Brazilian search planes are recovering what officials say is the wreckage of Air France Flight 447 which disappeared Monday off Brazil's northern coast. The debris will be examined for serial numbers and other markings to confirm that it is the missing plane. The Airbus A330 vanished about four hours after leaving Rio de Janeiro, bound for Paris.

Search planes found a 20 kilometer long oil slick, apparently left by the Air France jet.
Flight 447 left Rio de Janeiro bound for Paris on Monday. It carried 228 people. Debris found in the ocean could offer clues on why the four year old airplane went down.
"The nature of the debris, the density, the position, make no doubt that we have the first material evidence that are linked to Air France 447," said Commander Christophe Prazuck, a spokesman for France's military.

A meteorologist with AccuWeather tells VOA that Flight 447 may have encountered 160-kilometer-per-hour winds as it flew into strong storms along the equator.
The area is called the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone. It's where the trade winds between the Northern and Southern hemisphere meet.
U.S. pilots who fly this route say the zone's fierce thunderstorms carry moisture lower and therefore often do not appear on radar. Paul Zurkowski, a commercial pilot who flies to South America, says darkened cockpits help. "We'll turn off the interior lights and turn on the exterior lights to see more of what's outside, more of the clouds," he said.

Some experts point to severe turbulence or lightning strikes as to the cause. But planes are built to withstand strikes, so pilots say it's doubtful that lightning would be catastrophic.
Zurkowski says a few years back his plane started shaking and he realized it had been struck, just below his seat. "We didn't see any damage to the airplane airborne, it didn't affect our radios or navigation equipment," he said. "But it did put small holes in the airplane which were found by maintenance when we landed."
Shortly before it vanished, Flight 447 transmitted automatic messages reporting failures in its pressurization and electrical systems. Read Article...

Air France crash mystery deepens

(Source France 24) The mystery surrounding the crash of an Air France plane off the coast of Brazil deepened after Brazilian officials said items they had pulled from the sea were not in fact debris from the downed Airbus.

The search by ships for wreckage from Air France flight AF 477, which came down early Monday as it was flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris with 228 people on board, continued in a zone where confirmed items from the plane had been spotted earlier in the week.
"Up to now, no material from the plane has been recovered," Brigadier Ramon Cardoso, director of Brazilian air traffic control, told reporters in the northeastern city of Recife late Thursday.

That contradicted a statement Cardoso made earlier Thursday when he said a pallet and two buoys plucked from the Atlantic by navy crews were the first pieces of the Air France crash.
In fact, Cardoso admitted later, they were nothing more than sea "trash," probably from a ship, as was a big oil patch originally described as a fuel slick from the French jet.

Several Brazilian navy vessels are looking for debris from the plane, including a seat and a big chunk of what appeared to be fuselage, sighted by air force aircraft on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Defense Minister Nelson Jobim has said there was "no doubt" that the debris spotted from the air came from flight AF 477, and that they marked the area close to where the plane hit the ocean.
The French government, which is in charge of the probe into the crash, has sent investigators to Brazil to inspect any debris that could be recovered from the zone, around 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) off-shore, and take them back to France.
Speculation over what caused the accident has ranged from a massive, lightning-packed storm in the area at the time, to turbulence, to pilot error or a combination of factors.
No mayday call was received from the plane, just a series of data transmissions signaling it had lost power and then had either broken up or gone into a fatal dive. Read Article...

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