Question of the Day: The aircraft wreckage and remains have been found in an area about 45 miles (70 kilometers) from where AF 447 sent out it’s last messages signaling electrical failures and loss of cabin pressure. Why in the Hell did it take six days?
Maybe John Donne put it best, way back in 1624:-
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every
man is a piece of the continent, a part of the
main. If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory
were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or
of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes
me, because I am involved in mankind, and
therefore never send to know for whom the bell
tolls; it tolls for thee.”
RIP for the dead – and all sympathy for the relatives and friends……
Le Monde reports: Rio-Paris flight, ten-seven bodies recovered this weekend
Seventeen bodies of victims of the crash of the Airbus Air France have been recovered, Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 June, by the Brazilian army. The spokesman for the Air Force, Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Munhoz, said that nine bodies had been collected by the Brazilian frigate Constitucao and eight by the French frigate Ventose.
Among the eleven new body recovered Sunday, four women and four men. Most of the bodies and debris were collected in a location approximately 1 150 km from the city of Recife, on the northeast coast of Brazil. The spokesman added that other bodies had been identified and would be rescued in the day. He said that the weather was “unfavorable” Sunday on the area of research.
The body will arrive on Tuesday that the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, where they will be reviewed by a team of eight experts from the police, not Monday as originally planned. Fernando de Noronha, the body will then be transported by plane to the Forensic Institute of Recife, where a mortuary has been installed.
“The pieces of the plane are important pieces that confirm they are from Airbus, some bearing the logo of Air France, said the spokesperson. He previously stated that “hundreds of items” such as seats and oxygen masks were spotted floating.
If the research is progressing on the ground, the investigation conducted by experts french seems to also advance. In Paris, Secretary of State for Transport, Dominique Bussereau, reiterated that “for now, we can not really favor any hypothesis.”
But he detailed the chain of circumstances that may cause technical disaster. If the speed sensors freeze when the aircraft passes through “a very wet area, a very low area, a zone of turbulence”, they do more speed, he said. This can cause “an under-speed, which can cause a stall or overspeed, which may cause a tear in the plane,” said Secretary of State.
Air France said Saturday that it had accelerated since April 27, its replacement anemometric probe (Pitot) on its A330 and A340 aircraft and revealed that since May 2008, “incidents of loss of airspeed information in flight cruise on the A340 and A330 were found. According to Le Journal du dimanche, such problems had been identified on the Airbus A330 in 1996.
The U.S. Navy is sending two high-tech devices to French ships that will help them locate the black box flight recorders for the Air France plane that crashed nearly a week ago in the Atlantic Ocean.
A senior defense official said the Towed Pinger Locators, which can detect emergency beacons to a depth of 20,000 feet, are being flown to Brazil Monday with a U.S. Navy team. The team, which includes Navy personnel and some contractors, will deliver the locators to two French tugs that will use them to listen for transmissions from the black box.
The official requested anonymity because the decision, which came in response to a request from France, has not been announced. The U.S. Navy owns two of the locators, which are five feet long and five inches in diameter and are towed behind vessels at slow speed…
… Meanwhile, the French agency heading up the disaster investigation says airspeed instruments on the Airbus had not been replaced as the maker had recommended.
ARGENTINA: Argentine campaigner Pablo Dreyfus and Swiss colleague Ronald Dreyer battled South American arms and drug trafficking…
AMID THE media frenzy and speculation over the disappearance of Air France’s ill-fated Flight 447, the loss of two of the world’s most prominent figures in the war on the illegal arms trade and international drug trafficking has been virtually overlooked.
Pablo Dreyfus, a 39-year-old Argentine who was travelling with his wife Ana Carolina Rodrigues aboard the doomed flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, had worked tirelessly with the Brazilian authorities to stem the flow of arms and ammunition that for years has fuelled the bloody turf wars waged by drug gangs in Rio’s sprawling favelas.
Also travelling with Dreyfus on the doomed flight was his friend and colleague Ronald Dreyer, a Swiss diplomat and co-ordinator of the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence who had worked with UN missions in El Salvador, Mozambique, Azerbaijan, Kosovo and Angola. Both men were consultants at the Small Arms Survey, an independent think tank based at Geneva’s Graduate Institute of International Studies. The Survey said on its website that Dryer had helped mobilise the support of more than 100 countries to the cause of disarmament and development.
Buenos Aires-born Dreyfus had been living in Rio since 2002, where he and his sociologist wife worked with the Brazilian NGO Viva Rio.
ON-LINE PILOT CHATTER/MSG BOARDS/DISCUSSIONS
Below are the most recent on-line pilot chatter and message board discussions. Please understand the below are only chatter/discussion among aviation professionals and should not be considered fact until all official information is released by Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Disinformation (BEA).
I really thought the North Atlantic routes were covered, but don´t they have a trustworthy radio contact all the time? From what I understood in previous posts, in the area of the crash you only have HF contact which seems to be very difficult to use. Is this right?
There is a difference between radio coverage and radar coverage. The North Atlantic does have radio coverage (by HF), but no radar coverage due to the simple fact that radar is line-of-sight only. HF is nowhere near as good as VHF (which is also line-of-sight), but it is useable most of the time.
The alternative is to have a satellite datalink, called SATCOM. If you had the bandwidth, you could use it for voice, but that’s massively expensive, and since you rarely have to talk on the radio over the ocean anyway, it’s much more cost effective to use it to send text messages to ATC (via something called CPDLC) and to the company via ACARS.
SATCOM is the future, and most major carriers have it, but implementation is not 100%, and I doubt it will be for some time – the equipment is expensive, and operators who only fly over the oceans every so often can’t justify the expense.
The ‘most probable’ scenario is now that the aeroplane came down from 35,000 feet to sea level in four minutes. That’s a descent rate of over 8,000 feet per minute – around three times the normal rate.
technical question about something I just read in the New York Times :
“There have been situations on Airbus planes, and perhaps on others, where these tubes no longer indicated the airspeed because it entered a humid area, a low-pressure area, an area of turbulence,” he added. If the Flight 447 pilots could not read the correct speed, the plane could have been flying too slowly or too fast, with deadly results.
How can this possibly be fixed ? From my (limited) experience with GA, your indicated airspeed will always be lower if the air pressure is lower. So your airspeed can (and will) sometimes be wrong.
More generally, how can a pitot tube fail ? I understand an airspeed indicator can fail, but a pitot tube ? Or are we just talking about the pitot heating system here ?
On a somewhat related note, is the margin between stall and disintegration so thin at these altitudes for this type of aircraft ? I have read some articles that seemed to imply that it was very easy to either condition if your indicated airspeed was wrong.
in the event of air data failure the speed tape is replaced with a fast/slow angle of attack style gauge. All the pilot needs to do is to keep it in the green for the correct angle of attack.
I wonder if that was introduced after that Qantas upset, the pilots in that case said that maintaining attitude was difficult after the systems quit? As a matter of interest, is the new gauge actually an old-fashioned (steam-driven’) one – or does it still depend on the ADIRUs etc.?
Just heard a live radio report from a BBC guy in Recife.
17 bodies so far recovered; 4 male, 4 female, the others ‘sex not yet determined’ (which, sadly, presumably means that the bodies were smashed in an impact). ‘Many’ other bodies sighted in the area.
Aircraft parts retrieved, including part of a wing. Plus ‘hundreds of personal items,’ mostly luggage.
It sounds as if the wreckage is still quite concentrated in a relatively-small area. If that’s so, it suggests (to me anyway) that the aeroplane was probably in one piece when it hit the water. Or, if it broke up, it did so at quite low level.
But, of course, the wreckage has been drifting for days. The reporter said that the investigators estimate that area that will have to be searched for the recorders etc. is ‘about the size of Nebraska’ or very nearly as large as the area occupied by Great Britain….
if these Pitot tubes are subject to icing over, why is this not a problem on all aircraft? Do Boeing and the other Jet manufacturers and/or narrow body jets use tubes manufactured by a different supplier, or are the tubes used by the 330 manufactured differently than other jet models?
As with most things aviation, only a handful of common suppliers for equipment. The pitot tubes on all IFR aircraft have to be heated, and in the case of all Airbus aircraft all pitot tunes are certified by the JAA/FAA/EASA for flight into known icing conditions. The pitot heat on the A330 automatically turns on when the engines are running, it takes no action on the part of the crew.
As far as I am aware, the occurrence of unreliable airspeed incidents on “Boeing” (inc McD etc) aircraft are actually higher, not lower than found on Airbus aircraft, and more “Boeing” aircraft have been involved in fatal accident as a result, see Aviation Safety Network
This is the reason why you will find an unreliable airspeed checklist in every commercial aircraft in the sky today.
Don’t all get too tied up with the pitot change thing…i’ve been reading for a while now, if in fact the pitots did freeze over, whatever they flew into…jesus was it rough..
i’ve have some severe airfram icing on the 737-800, enough where we hit a CB top, which was embedded in a squall on our way down into IST, and the front windows were COVERED with ice within 25-30 seconds of hitting it…the captain and i both looked at eachother in amazment…he had 25,000 hours and told me he’d never experienced that before…
Blaming AF for not changing to a newer version isn’t the way to go, these a/c fly these routes constantly, even now as we speak..
Recent posts above would suggest that AF began replacing the pitots before waiting for all parties concerned to agree that it was necessary.
For what I understand, AF was pro-active in starting the roll out of replacement of these sensors 2 months ago, when Airbus did not even feel that there was any urgency in changing them.
It would be interesting to know if other operators did the same as AF. Also what is the distribution of differently manufactured pitot tubes among operators (how many are available?), and exactly which ones are under “suspicion”, and still flying.
6 days that passed locating the wreckage would have meant anyone that survived would have been dead. That’s just not an acceptable chance to be taking with lives IMHO. Especially when a pure sat based comm/tracking system might be cheaper than all the independent radar and VHF/HF stations around the world.
We have to wait until tuesday until pathologists can say anything, but what if the bodies were to show that they actually drowned only few days ago, not on monday night?
At the beginning of this tragedy I asked a question I still don’t understand. Why did it take so long for this to be reported publicly? I heard the first news reports shortly after it was due to arrive in Paris.
In Paris, the fact that a plane was missing was known in the morning, around 10am local time. This is more than an hour before the scheduled arrival at CDG.
At that time, AF [stated] it still had hope the plane would show up somewhere, but the information “missing plane” was nonetheless public.
Has the A330 experienced a passenger fatality, other than the test flight (flight crew/observers)? If so I am not aware.
Correct. The only 330/340 fatalities were that test flight and AF 447. For that matter, the 447 crash is the only event with in-service fatalities of any western widebody type that has come into service in the last 20 years. Quite a testament to modern aircraft engineering and crew training.
Wouldn’t it then make sense to devise automatic system that would immediately try to ask ADS-B equipment about its’ coordinates whenever flight crew fails to send its’ position report?
ADS on aircraft has Position Autoreporting. This will automatically send me a message via ADS that they have crossed a waypoint. If for some reason an aircraft fails to send a position update, and i have entered the expected time for the waypoints in my system, it will trigger a MPR warning (Missed Position Report) in 5 minutes and i will commence with prelims and try and establish communications with the aircraft. Typically I would use our One Shot function, which will trigger a position report to be sent by the aircraft, and sent an urgent CPDLC communications message.
If they lost electricals AND cabin pressure at 35K ft. would all aboard die almost instantly from no oxygen. I mean there is now way they were alive during the descent is there?
the cabin pressure warning came up only at the literal last minute – It was timed at 02.14 Zulu, and was the last message received before the presumed crash. It was only an ‘advisory’ anyway.
I’ve seen explanations that say it could well have referred not to de-pressurisation but to the opposite – that pressurisation was still going on at too high a level even though the aeroplane was well below oxygen height – or, alternatively, that it was reacting to the destruction of the fuselage as it impacted the sea……..
Until then there was no mention of any pressurisation problems. My guess is that lack of oxygen wasn’t part of the dreadful situation everyone on board faced.
Diagram of vessel positions and aircraft remains. Remains are 70km north of point where aircraft made last contact. Patrol boat “Grajau” is over the remains (red dot on the diagram).