All Believed Lost On Air France 447

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Searchers and investigators are now converging on the area where the Brazilian Air Force found a five-mile debris field where an Air France A330 carrying 216 passengers and 12 crew is thought to have gone down while on a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris Sunday evening. Brazilian authorities are now saying there is no hope for survivors. The Air Force says pieces of metallic debris and seats were spotted in the Atlantic about 400 miles off the country's northern coast. The aircraft sent about four minutes of telemetry to the airline's maintenance base indicating catastrophic failures in at least 12 systems, Air France said Monday, but the cause of the accident has not been determined. It is known the aircraft flew through an area of convective weather about the time of the telemetry burst. The flight was beyond radar range and there were no communications received from the flight crew over the high frequency radio used for transoceanic communications. A lightning strike remained the popular media's most persistent theory for the cause of the apparent crash, although lightning dispersal systems are a well tested and effective feature of all modern airliners.

The possible discovery of the crash site raises hopes that the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder will be recovered. The FDR, especially, is regarded as a prime target in the search because the A330 carries a sophisticated device that will reveal the status of all the aircraft's systems during the crash sequence. Meanwhile, most of those who perished have been identified and include people from at least 32 countries. Among the dead are at least eight children.