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The search for the Air France black box.

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The search for the Air France black box.

Postby U-5075 » Wed Jun 03, 2009 7:19 am

Two Articles: ... id=1656151

Search for jet's black box could take months
Depth of water, huge search area, weather all problems

Natalie Alcoba, National Post Published: Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Fragmented remains of an Air France flight that went missing Sunday night were discovered scattered along a five kilometre stretch of the Atlantic ocean, Brazilian officials confirmed on Tuesday, as search and rescue ships travelled to the scene to start piecing together the disaster.

On board one French vessel are two mini-submarines that can work deep under water, as the rescue operation turns to finding debris that has come to rest along the ocean floor.

Recovering the "black box" is especially critical, since it contains voice recordings and instrument data that could explain why the Airbus jetliner vanished in an Atlantic storm en route to Paris with 228 people on board.

Experts say the devices are designed to send homing signals when they hit water, but merely locating them presents a mammoth task that could take months. Oceanographers say this stretch of the Atlantic, about 650 kilometres north east of Brazil, has average depths of 4,000 to 5,000 metres, but crevices can go as far as 8,000 metres.

"There are no doubts" items floating in the sea belonged to flight AF 447 that was going from Rio to Paris, Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim told reporters in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday.

"A five-kilometre long strip of debris -- cables and other aircraft components" were spotted by several flyovers through the day, he said. An airplane seat, an orange buoy, white pieces resembling parts of a fuselage and traces of oil or kerosene were discovered.

There was initial speculation that lightning may have been a factor in the crash, since the plane flew through a tropical storm, but the cause remains unknown.

Brazilian Navy ships and merchant vessels in the area were making their way to the scene to continue to looking for more debris, Lt.-Col. Ricardo Dechen, with the Brazilian Air Force, told the National Post.

Also en route is a research ship called The Pourquoi Pas? (Why Not), a French government minister said in a statement on Tuesday, which is carrying mini-subs that can go up to 6,000 metres deep.

"There is a good chance that the recorder would survive but the main problem would be finding it," said Derek Clarke, joint managing director of Aberdeen-based Divex, which designs and builds military and commercial diving equipment.

Mr. Clarke spends time preparing for the unthinkable as part of an industry network on stand-by to help rescue submarines.

"If you think how long it took to find the Titanic and that the debris would be smaller, you are looking for a needle in haystack."

Both recorders were recovered from the crash of Air India Flight 182, which was blown up off the Irish coast in 1985.

They were recovered from some 2,000 metres in a search which lasted more than two weeks.

Two years later, South African Airways Flight 295 crashed into the Indian Ocean near Mauritius, triggering the deepest hunt for an airliner yet undertaken, with investigators recovering the cockpit voice recorder after a three-month search from a record depth of more than 4,200 metres.

Underwater search and rescue expert Greg Updike said equipment exists today to search for downed wrecked at great depths.

"Every 33 feet is an atmosphere and of course the deeper you go, the more pressure you get. But with the gear you have today, they can make some very deep dives," said Mr. Updike, owner of Alaska Commercial Divers. Some suits can take divers 3,000 deep.

Anything deeper would involve a variety of other search techniques, from dragging a net across an area to using sonar to map the ocean floor.

"In this case, because of the way the wreckage will go, they're going to have to take a submarine down there, a small sub with two or three people in there," he said.

The Pourquoi Pas is equipped with such a sub as well as a remote-controlled sub.

"If the plane came from 40,000 feet and hit, it's going to be almost impossible to find anything bigger than the motor," he said. "You're going to have that debris scattered, maybe five to ten miles."

National Post, with files from wire services ... in_america

Brazil Navy to Reach Crash Debris as Undersea Search Is Planned

By Francisco Marcelino and Helene Fouquet

June 3 (Bloomberg) -- A Brazilian ship today is due to reach floating debris from the Air France plane that crashed in the Atlantic Ocean, as recovery crews prepared to search for the wreckage at a depth of almost 2 miles.

The debris spotted by searchers yesterday off northeastern Brazil confirms that the Airbus SAS A330-200 crashed, Defense Minister Nelson Jobim said in Rio de Janeiro. The material, found over a 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) stretch of ocean, consists of wire and metal pieces, he said. The debris was found about 650 kilometers northeast of Brazil’s Fernando de Noronha island.

A Brazilian patrol vessel will reach the site today at about 11 a.m. New York time, according to a Navy statement. Plane parts are marked with identification numbers that would allow the components to be tracked. Flight 447 went down with 228 people aboard as it flew to Paris from Rio de Janeiro.

“There is no doubt the debris is from the Air France plane, but we still need to do a formal analysis to confirm it,” French Defense Ministry spokesman Christophe Prazuck said today in a telephone interview. “This will happen in the next few days. We need to find a piece of debris that bears a distinctive sign, like a serial number.” He declined to comment further on the investigation.

The wreckage may be located at a depth of 2,000 to 3,000 meters (6,600 to 9,800 feet), French Energy Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said today. France is sending a mini-submarine to the site aboard an oceanographic vessel, Prazuck said. The mini-sub can dive 6,000 meters and will be used to recover the plane’s flight-data and voice recorders after the wreckage is found. The ship will take about eight days to reach the area.

Sensors Froze

Some of the plane’s exterior sensors had frozen, Borloo said on France’s RMC radio, confirming a report on the Web site of the weekly magazine Le Point. The magazine also said the last transmission from the plane concerned electrical failures.

Air France said it isn’t ruling out a lightning strike on the aircraft, which reported an electrical-circuit breakdown and sent 10 automated distress messages before it vanished. The debris was found away from the flight path, suggesting the plane may have attempted to turn back, Brazilian Air Force Colonel Jorge Amaral said yesterday.

The French Aviation Accidents Investigation Bureau expects to publish a preliminary report on the crash by the end of this month, Paul Louis Arslanian, head of the agency, said at a news conference in Paris today.

It may be “weeks or months” before any cause is determined, French Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau said in an interview on French radio station Europe One yesterday.

Towering Thunderstorms

The plane probably flew into thunderstorms that stretched for 600 kilometers, towered as high as 15,000 meters and may have produced lightning, State College, Pennsylvania-based said yesterday in a statement. Updrafts as strong as 160 kilometers per hour may have resulted from the storms, creating “severe” turbulence, it said.

“Did we enter a period of climate shocks of an extraordinary violence? This is a question we will have to ask ourselves,” Borloo said. “Experts are divided on that question.”

Terrorism was unlikely and isn’t thought by investigators to have been the cause, although it can’t be ruled out, he said.

“There is no sign of an attack. It was a sudden problem but it wasn’t instantaneous,” Borloo said. All checks on the aircraft were done correctly before the takeoff, he added.

Brazilian Vice President Jose Alencar ordered three days of mourning as a mark of respect for the victims.

Brazil and France dispatched spotter planes, helicopters and navy vessels to locate the plane, which lost contact two days ago after hitting turbulence. The U.S. military is also assisting in the search.

Paris Prosecutor

The Paris prosecutor’s office took over the crash investigation from the prosecutor in Bobigny, near Charles de Gaulle airport, the plane’s destination. The prosecutor’s office has asked special aviation investigators to look into the events that caused the crash, it said in an e-mailed statement today.

The involvement of prosecutors in French air-crash investigations “is not required under law, but is customary,” Simon Foreman, a partner with Soulez Lariviere & Associes, said today in a telephone interview. The Paris law firm has been involved in several cases involving large-scale loss of life, including the Air France Concorde crash.

“Every time there is a catastrophe, prosecutors investigate the causes of death,” Foreman said.

“It is a practice that is much criticized by the aviation security community, because it inserts the police into every investigation,” he said. “People get intimidated once the police are involved.”

Passenger List

Air France said it may release the passenger list today. Those on board included 58 Brazilians, 61 French and 26 Germans as well as more than a dozen other nationalities. Brazil’s Jobim said the list may not be complete because some families requested the names of relatives not be made public.

Until now, the A330, a twin-engine airliner that carries about 250 people, had never had a fatal accident in commercial flight. A development model crashed after takeoff during testing, according to Paul Hayes, director of safety at Ascend, an aviation consultant in the U.K.

One high-profile incident with an A330 that didn’t include fatalities occurred on Oct. 7, 2008, when passengers and crew on a Qantas Airways Ltd. flight from Singapore to Perth were slammed into the cabin ceiling after the plane abruptly lost altitude. Fourteen people had serious injuries.

Computer Component

Australian air safety investigators said a month later that a fault in a flight system computer component may have caused the nosedive. The investigation is still under way.

Airbus yesterday said there’s no way of knowing yet whether there are similarities in the two cases.

“It’s premature to link the incidents as long as the investigators don’t have the flight recorder to give more visibility on what happened,” said Stefan Schaffrath, a company spokesman, in a phone interview from Airbus’s Toulouse, France, headquarters.

There are more than 600 A330s flying worldwide that have logged a total of 30 million flight hours, he said.

The missing Airbus was delivered to Air France in April 2005 and had flown about 18,000 hours on some 2,500 flights, the manufacturer said in a statement. The company said it is offering technical assistance in the investigation. Airbus declined to comment on the cause of the crash.

To contact the reporters on this story: Francisco Marcelino in Sao Paulo at; Helene Fouquet in Paris at

Last Updated: June 3, 2009 06:04 EDT
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Postby U-5075 » Thu Jun 04, 2009 7:08 pm ... AD98K0HAG2

Sub that explored Titanic to aid Flight 447 search
By EMMA VANDORE – 5 hours ago

PARIS (AP) — A mini-submarine that explored the undersea wreckage of the Titanic is being whisked across the Atlantic to help retrieve the flight recorders of Air France Flight 447.

The French marine research institute Ifremer said Thursday it has pulled the ship Pourquoi Pas? (Why Not?) off a research mission in the Azores to help find the remains of the Airbus plane. Flight 447 disappeared Sunday night en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris after flying into a dangerous band of thunderstorms over the Atlantic Ocean.

On board the research ship is the Nautile, an 8-meter (26-foot) long deep ocean submarine that has made multiple dives to the Titanic and a remote-controlled robot called Victor 6000.

"The priority for us is to find the black boxes," said Vincent Rigaud, head of Ifremer's underwater system department. "We will do everything we can to find them."

Search teams have a month to locate the plane's two black boxes — the cockpit voice and flight data recorders — before they stop emitting signals. They could be scattered nearly anywhere across a vast undersea mountain range below the surface of the ocean.

The French ship will dock in the Cape Verde Islands off Africa's western coast on June 8 to pick up equipment — including a hydrophonic microphone — and personnel.

Manned by 25 sailors and a team of 20 specialists, the ship should reach the site off the northeast coast of Brazil where military aircraft are searching for remains of the plane by June 11 or 12, Rigaud said.

The supersensitive microphone will then be deployed to depths of 500 meters (1,640 feet) above the seabed to locate the continuous "pinging" signals emitted by the black boxes, which are believed to up to 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) below the sea.

"It's not going to be easy," Rigaud said. "The zone is very large. It's the first time we are trying to find black boxes so deep."

If the microphone detects the pinging, the mini-sub Nautile and the robot Victor will be deployed.

The Nautile can carry a three-man crew jammed into a nearly 10-foot (2.1-meter) diameter cabin. Three tiny portholes allow the crew to peer outside for the black boxes, which are actually bright orange and covered in reflective tape.

The vessel is also equipped with a panoramic sonar, capable of detecting signals up to 200 meters (218 yards) to the side, and several cameras. The black boxes could be retrieved by two mechanical arms.

The Nautile made several dives to the Titanic in 1987, 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1998, including when the wreck was first discovered. It has also been used to recover wreckage from several planes that went down in the ocean.

The Victor is attached by electrical and optical cables to the Pourquoi Pas? and is operated by staff on the boat.

Still, the head of France's accident investigation agency, Paul-Louis Arslanian, has said he was "not optimistic" that officials would ever recover the black boxes from the plane. Experts have also told The Associated Press that layers of warm and cold water, with differing salinity, can affect the signals emitting from the black boxes, making them harder to find.

In 1998, search teams struggled to find black boxes from an Indonesian Boeing 737 that plunged into the sea on New Year's Day, killing all 102 people on board. The Adam Air plane was flying from the island of Java to an airport in eastern Indonesia when it spiraled from the sky from an altitude of 33,000 feet (10,000 meters).

The pings emitted by the recorders were located three weeks later by the U.S. Navy's oceanographic survey ship Mary Sears at a depth of over 6,500 feet (2,000 meters). But it took another eight months before the U.S. marine salvage firm Phoenix International recovered the boxes.

Although the wreckage of Air France Flight 447 could end up at a greater water depth, the Adam Air salvage showed that black boxes deep underwater can be successfully recovered if their position is precisely fixed before their beacons stop functioning.

Associated Press writer Slobodan Lekic contributed to this article from Brussels.
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Postby U-5075 » Fri Jun 05, 2009 1:20 pm

Below are the more interesting reports about this search.
Includes a good map of plane's route and one photo of a French nuc sub.

Nuclear sub to join hunt for jet
A French nuclear submarine is being sent to help find an Air France jet which disappeared over the Atlantic.

French defence minister Herve Morin said the hunter-killer submarine had surveillance equipment that could help find the plane's flight data recorders.

As the search continued, it was revealed that debris salvaged from the sea was not from the jet.

Airbus has reissued guidelines to pilots after experts said the plane may have had false speed measurements.

A spokesman for Airbus said that a notice had been sent reminding Airbus air crews worldwide what to do when speed indicators give conflicting read-outs.

See a map of the plane's route

Spokesman Justin Dubon said that the inconsistent readings meant that "the air speed of the aircraft was unclear".

He said that in such circumstances, flight crews should maintain thrust and pitch and - if necessary - level off the plane and start troubleshooting procedures as detailed in operating manuals.

The BBC's Tom Symonds says erratic speed readings could have been caused by heavy turbulence and might have caused the plane's automatic throttle to power up or down as it passed through heavy storms.

Meteorologists say that the Air France Flight 447 had entered an unusual storm with 100mph (160km/h) updrafts that sucked water up from the ocean.

As the moisture reached the plane's high altitude it quickly froze in -40C temperatures. The updrafts would also have created dangerous turbulence, they say.

The Airbus A330 jet vanished over the Atlantic en-route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on Monday with 228 people on board.

A small group of relatives of those on board the plane has gone to the north-eastern Brazilian city of Recife where the rescue operation is based. They are to be given a chance to tour the facility and to ask questions.

As the search continued on Friday, it was revealed that a wooden pallet and a fuel slick in the vicinity of the plane's last known position were not from the jet.

Brazilian air force official Brig Ramon Borges Cardoso contradicted earlier reports, saying "no material from the plane has been recovered".

The slick was most likely from a passing ship, he said.

Navy ships are reported to be scouring the ocean, about 1,100km (690 miles) north-east of Brazil's coast, in an effort to locate other debris spotted from the air on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Research ship

A French marine research ship equipped with two non-nuclear mini-submarines is already on its way to the area.

Three more Brazilian boats and a French ship equipped with small submarines are expected to arrive in the area in the next few days.

French military spokesman Christophe Prazuck said the priority was looking for wreckage from the plane before it sinks or disappears.

French officials have said the flight data recorders, which could be deep under water, may never be found.

In another development on Friday, the Paris prosecutor's office opened a manslaughter inquiry into the air crash.

It is a routine step taken by authorities in connection with the deaths of French citizens overseas.

"Following the disappearance of the Air France Airbus A330 between Rio de Janeiro and Paris, the Paris prosecutor's office has opened a judicial inquiry against unnamed persons on charges of manslaughter," a statement said. ... s-atlantic

This article includes a time line of the automated messages. A selected abstract of this is below. Also some of the reports of debris turned out not to be from this plane.

Debris found in Atlantic not from missing Air France plane

"With the crucial flight recorders still missing, investigators were relying heavily on the plane's automated messages to help reconstruct what happened as the jet flew through violent thunderstorms on Sunday.

The last message from the pilot was a manual signal at 11pm local time, saying he was flying through an area of black, electrically charged clouds with violent winds and lightning.

At 11:10pm, a series of problems began: the autopilot had disengaged, a key computer system switched to alternative power, and controls needed to keep the plane stable had been damaged. An alarm sounded indicating the deterioration of flight systems. Then systems for monitoring air speed, altitude and direction failed, as did controls over the main flight computer and wing spoilers.

At 11:14 pm, a final automatic message signalled loss of cabin pressure and complete electrical failure as the plane broke apart.

France's accident investigation agency established that the series of automatic messages gave conflicting signals about the plane's speed, and that the flight path went through dangerously stormy weather.

The agency warned against "hasty interpretation or speculation" after the French newspaper Le Monde reported, without naming sources, that the plane was flying too slowly before the disaster."
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Postby U-5075 » Sat Jun 06, 2009 9:52 am

Video, good coverage, Associated Press

Debris Doesn't Match; Flight 447 Mystery Deepens
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Postby raalst » Sat Jun 06, 2009 10:02 am

you would expect that SOSUS could indicate the crash site up to a few miles

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Postby U-5075 » Sat Jun 06, 2009 11:27 am ... ne.html?hp

Air France Was Warned of Speed Sensor Problem Before Crash

Published: June 6, 2009
PARIS — An Air France jet that disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean earlier this week with 228 people on board was due to have part of its airspeed sensor system replaced after the plane’s manufacturer, Airbus, had advised operators of some of its A330 aircraft to do so, the head of French air investigations said Saturday.

Investigators are looking into whether inconsistent speed measurements could have played a role in the crash. The sensing system includes a part called a Pitot tube, which was what Airbus recommended replacing. The tubes are vulnerable to icing in cold weather, which the plane, flying through severe thunderstorms in the route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris could have experienced.

“The sensors on this aircraft had not yet been replaced,” said Paul-Lous Arslanian, director of France’s Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses, known as the B.E.A.

But he emphasized that it was “far too early to conclude” that a malfunction of the sensors was to blame for the accident, saying that it could still have been possible for the crew to continue flying the aircraft with “degraded systems.”

A spokeswoman for Airbus in the United States said in an e-mail message on Saturday that the recommendation for the replacement of the Pitot tubes was “not a safety issue.”

Meanwhile on Saturday morning, the Brazilian military, together with ships from France and the United States, were steaming toward a 50-mile long strip just north of the equator, about 600 miles off Brazil’s coast, where the plane was believed to have plunged into the water. After recovering floating debris on Thursday and mistakenly concluding that it had belonged to Air France Flight 447, the Brazilian military backtracked to find other debris that surveillance aircraft had sighted earlier in the week.

The jet, which had only been in service four years, disappeared on June 1 with 216 passengers and 12 crew members on board.

The key to determining the cause of the crash probably rests at the bottom of the ocean — where the black boxes that are the data and voice recorders could be submerged in 3,000 feet to 13,000 feet of water and in rocky and muddy terrain. The boxes emit signals from a “pinger,” but those will start to fade after 30 days. The French navy is sending a nuclear-powered submarine to the area in an effort to detect the signals.

“This is what we are looking for in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean,” Mr. Arslanian said. He held up a small canister roughly about the size of a cardboard toilet paper roll.

Without any physical clues, the investigation was focused on the 24 automated messages the plane sent out in a four-minute burst just after midnight Brazil time before it disappeared indicating wide systems failures. One message indicated that there were incoherent speed readings.

Mr. Arslanian said that in addition to the inconsistent speed readings, the messages also indicated that the plane’s auto pilot system was not engaged. But he said it was not possible to know from the transmissions whether the autopilot shut down automatically, or whether the pilots did so manually as part of a troubleshooting effort.

“We also haven’t yet made a connection between these system breakdowns and the inconsistency of the speed measurements,” Mr. Arslanian said.

After the crash, Airbus sent out a reminder to all its customers to follow established procedures when pilots suspect airspeed sensors are not functioning properly. The message, approved by the French investigators, said that the reminder had been sent “without prejudging the final outcome of the investigation.”

Air France had already begun installing improved sensors across its entire fleet of medium- and long-haul aircraft as part of regularly scheduled maintenance checks, Mr. Arslanian said. The overhaul was due to be completed over the course of the next several weeks.

A malfunction of a plane’s airspeed sensors can be crucial to the pilots’ ability to control their aircraft. A plane that flies too slow can lose lift and crash, while one that is moving too fast can break up in the air.

Airspeed on jets is measured by the combination of the Pitot tube, which faces forward, and an opening on the side of the plane known as a static port. The plane’s speed is determined by comparing the pressure in the Pitot tube that is created by the oncoming wind with the pressure from the static port.

In 2007, Airbus advised operators of the Airbus A330 that were equipped with Pitot tubes manufactured by the French company Thales to replace them.

Stefan Schaffrath, an Airbus spokesman, confirmed that this recommendation, known as a service bulletin was made, but said it was for reasons of improved performance rather than safety concerns.

“The advice was issued because there was a new generation of device out there with improved performance regarding its measurement capability,” Mr. Schaffrath said. “This is nothing unusual as there are constant updates ongoing throughout the life of an aircraft.”

Airbus said it had informed air safety regulators in Europe and North America about the recommendation at the time. But on Friday a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration was not able to confirm this, and said there were no plans to turn this recommendation into a requirement.

Nicola Clark reported from Paris, and Liz Robbins from New York. Matthew L. Wald contributed reporting from New York.

Selected abstract from ... Cz81jNNuUU

Air France Airbus That Crashed Was Awaiting Sensor Replacement

June 6 (Bloomberg) -- The Air France plane that crashed into the Atlantic this week was awaiting replacement of a speed sensor that investigators identified as a likely contributor to the accident.

The sensor, made by Thales SA, gave inconsistent readings on the speed of the Airbus A330 jet en route to Paris from Rio de Janeiro June 1. Airbus SAS had advised airlines more than a year ago to replace the sensors on A330 jets with models that are less vulnerable to ice, two people with knowledge of the matter said yesterday.

France’s chief crash investigator today told journalists at a briefing near Paris that the failure of the air sensor to convey reliable speed data may have kicked off the chain of events that led to the deaths of all 228 people aboard.
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Postby U-5075 » Sat Jun 06, 2009 1:07 pm ... ane.crash/

Bodies of Air France passengers found

PARIS, France (CNN) -- Bodies have been found from the crash of an Air France plane that disappeared Monday, the Brazilian air force said Saturday.

Also, one seat and a suitcase were recovered at sea by a vessel participating in the search, the air force said in Recife, Brazil.

Earlier in the day, aviation investigators said Flight 447 sent out 24 automated error messages, including one saying the aircraft's autopilot had disengaged, before it vanished with 228 people on board.

They also reported that the airline had failed to replace a part, as recommended by the manufacturer, Airbus.

Airbus had advised airlines to update equipment that monitors speed, known as Pitot tubes. The recommendation was a result of technological developments and improvements, an Airbus spokesman told CNN's Richard Quest. The change was not mandatory, and the spokesman would not comment on Air France's failure to follow the advice.

Planes have crashed because of faulty or blocked Pitot tubes in the past, Quest said, and there was clearly something wrong with the doomed plane's speed-monitoring equipment.

But it may be a mistake to place too much emphasis on the Pitot tubes, he added, as the jet apparently was experiencing massive system failures.

Even as they analyzed the error messages and satellite images of the doomed flight's path, investigators said they still have a lot of work to determine what caused the plane to go down.

"I would just like to ask you to bear in mind that all of this is dynamic and there are a lot of question marks," said Paul-Louis Arslanian, head of France's accident investigation bureau.

"We don't know how the aircraft entered the water. We don't know how these pieces of debris entered into the water and that you have to take into account the current ... and the shape of the ocean floor."

The error messages suggest that the plane may have been flying too fast or too slow through the stormy weather it encountered before the crash, officials said.

In addition, investigators have said the plane's autopilot disengaged, cabin pressure was lost, and there was an electrical failure before the disaster.

The jet's manufacturer, Airbus, sent a Telex to operators of Airbus models reminding them of what to do when speed indicators give conflicting readings.

The spokesman said the notice does not mean there is any major flaw in the aircraft but is simply a reminder to pilots of what to do in the cockpit if they get conflicting information about air speed. Watch as experts question whether recovery is possible »

All 228 passengers and crew aboard the Airbus 330 are presumed to have died when the plane disappeared northeast of the Fernando de Noronha Islands, 355 kilometers (220 miles) off the northeast coast of Brazil.

The flight originated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and was en route to Paris, France. Map of Flight 447's flight path »

Search teams were still trying to find debris from the jet Saturday, two days after a Brazilian Air Force official said debris plucked from the ocean was not from the Air France jet.
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Postby Tom Dougherty » Sun Jun 07, 2009 2:06 pm

you would expect that SOSUS could indicate the crash site up to a few miles

There were no SOSUS hydrophone array installations in the South Atlantic. SOSUS arrays were primarily in the Greenland, Iceland, UK region in the Atlantic, and another network (Adak, Pearl, Guam, etc.) in the Pacific. Further if the region where the plane went down is mountaineous, as reported, that further compicates the picture in terms of acoustic propagation.

Locating the Scorpion with hydrophone recordings was difficult due to the distances from hydrophones, and Scorpion was in the North Atlantic west of the Azores.
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Postby U-5075 » Mon Jun 08, 2009 7:21 pm ... gDhy328UpQ

Brazil finds key piece from downed Air France jet
By Marcelo Lluberas – 2 days ago

FERNANDO DE NORONHA, Brazil (AFP) — Brazil's navy on Monday recovered the tail fin from an Air France jet that plunged into the Atlantic a week ago, and was transporting 16 bodies to shore for identification.

The recovery of the fin was seen as important to the search for answers as to what knocked the Airbus A330, flight AF 447, out of the sky on June 1 as it was flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris with 228 people on board.

The plane's black boxes were mounted in the tail section, and the fin's location could narrow the underwater search for those devices by a French submarine expected to arrive in the zone on Wednesday.

Brazilian officials meanwhile were preparing to receive the 16 bodies plucked from amid the floating debris over the weekend.

Those remains, and dozens of the plane's structural components which have also been picked up, were expected to arrive in the Brazilian archipelago Fernando de Noronha early on Tuesday.

From there the bodies would be flown to the mainland coastal city of Recife, a navy spokesman in Recife, Captain Guicemar Tabosa told reporters.

Brazilian police forensic teams have been set up to identify the bodies using dental records and DNA from relatives.

Tabosa said navy crews had not yet confirmed information given by families on the doomed flight that it appeared two more bodies had been spotted on Monday.

Brazilian and French officials said there was no hope of finding survivors from the downed plane.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said in his weekly radio address on Monday that "everything was being done... so that we can find, if possible, all the bodies, because we know how much it means for a family to receive their lost loved one."

Brazilian and French teams continued to scour the crash zone 1,100 kilometers (700 miles) off Brazil's northeast coast for more bodies and pieces of wreckage.

The clock is ticking for finding the black boxes, believed to lie on the sea floor at a depth of up to 6,000 meters (19,700 feet). Their homing beacons will cease to operate in three weeks.

The US Navy said on Sunday it would send two towable pinger locators and a crew of around 20 to the scene later this week to join the hunt for the devices.

"The first ship should head to the scene on (June) 10th," Pentagon spokesman and US navy commander Jeffrey Gordon told AFP. "They can be used for locating submarines or anything under the water that can emit a sound."

If the voice and data recorders are found, a French research sub -- the same one that has explored the wreck of the Titanic -- will be deployed to recover them. That small sub, the Nautile, is also expected to arrive within days.

The disaster is the worst aviation accident since 2001, and unprecedented in Air France's 75-year history.

No distress call was received from the flight crew of the doomed plane.

Early suspicions are focusing on the Airbus A330's airspeed sensors, which appeared to have malfunctioned in the minutes before the catastrophe according to some of the 24 automatic data warnings sent by the plane.

Investigators are looking at whether the sensors, known as pitots, could have iced over, possibly leading the Air France pilots to fly into a storm in the zone that day without knowing their airspeed.

Such a scenario could have resulted in "two bad consequences for the survival of the plane," France's transport minister Dominique Bussereau told French radio on the weekend.

They were, he said: "Too low a speed, which can cause it to stall, or too high a speed, which can lead to the plane ripping up as it approached the speed of sound, as the outer skin is not designed to resist such speed."
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Postby U-5075 » Sun Jun 14, 2009 7:38 pm


Experts Discuss Theories On Crash of Air France Flight 447

This past weekend, Peter sat down with a variety of experts to discuss the crash of Air France Flight 447.

He checked in with retired American Airlines pilot Tom Casey about flying in turbulent weather as well as Greg Feith, former lead NTSB investigator, about the ongoing investigation and recovery efforts, plus pilot Patrick Smith and Wall Street Journal columnist Scott McCartney.

To listen to these interviews and more, click here to visit our radio archives.

First up was retired American Airlines pilot Tom Casey…

Peter Greenberg: We’re just trying to assemble the intuitive pieces here because we have so little to go on.

Tom Casey: Well, that’s really the problem. I studied the meteorological data that they have so far, and it was an evil group of storms in what they call the “tropical convergence zone.” These storms were forming rapidly. I also took a look at the area near the debris field. I think the depth is something like 13,000 feet, roughly equivalent to the depth that the Titanic sank to. It may be that they’ll never retrieve the data recorders. But to me, it looks like there is a possibility that the pilot got boxed in. These were rapidly forming cumulonimbus clouds. When they’re rapidly forming, they don’t necessarily have a radar footprint because they haven’t developed the level of moisture and rain, but they’re very turbulent. These were very powerful storms.

PG: So what you’re saying is that the pilot didn’t see it on his radio because it may not have been on his radar.

TC: It’s true. I remember I was in the Air Force flying a C-38. I was flying in Alabama in clear air besides building thunderstorms. I had a 6,000 rate-per-minute climb going, and the cumulonimbus was building faster than I could climb. So that’s an incredibly dynamic storm system when you have cells building at that rate. He may have entered a path that seemed clear to begin with, and then got walled in—like flying into a boxed canyon of turbulent air and thunderheads. We can’t know for sure, but we know the weather was severe and rapidly developing. They’re probably going to have to take radio transmissions between other pilots who were on those routes.

The advantage of having flight data recording is that they can analyze that crash. They’ll be able to tell you what happened, when it happened, why it happened, and what was being experienced by the airframe. What happened here on Flight 447 is if we don’t get the flight data recording, it’s all going to be speculation.

PG: Initial reports were that it might have been hit by lightning. You and I might intuitively agree that lightning alone could not have caused this.

TC: No, lightning I don’t think is effective at all because planes are not grounded. But if you can imagine driving a truck at 100 miles an hour through potholes, you can get a sense of what the conditions were like. There are design limitations for any vehicle. Let’s say he was flying for 45 minutes in extreme turbulence—then the wings could certainly rip off.

PG: And then there’s the debris they found in the ocean. At this reporting, it’s been measured at 55 square miles. That seems to indicate beyond a reasonable doubt that the plane broke apart in the air and the debris was spread out even before hitting the water.

TC: Until they collect it all they’re going to have to speculate. There are devices on the data recorder and they can be tracked, but the question is whether they’ll be able to find it.

PG: There is some electronic evidence that at a certain point in this plane’s flight there were at least 10 separate electronic messages sent to the maintenance base in Paris and to Airbus in Toulouse. That would be normal standard procedure the way these planes were designed. But 10 were sent in a row, and each one was saying we have no electricity, we have no flight control, we’ve lost this, we’ve lost that … that would indicate that plane was basically breaking up in the air.

TC: It certainly points to a problem that was developing and ongoing. That’s one of the things that modern jetliners have—they’re self-diagnostic and self-reporting. We used to joke in the cockpit that you can’t cover up mistakes because the airplane has already told on you. In this case, the airplane was telling a story that it was in trouble and losing their systems. I know that they lost their Air Data Inertial Reference Unit (ADIRU), which controls all of the main systems. With a malfunction of the ADIRU, the plane was really losing its soul. We all want answers to the questions we have, and the questions keep multiplying.

PG: With all fairness to the investigators, even if this was an easy one to figure out, we wouldn’t know a definitive probable cause for weeks or months.

TC: Then you get to the question that if it did break up in turbulence, why was it in that turbulence? This was an experienced pilot. No pilot with that experience would take the plane to situation that was inescapable. There must have been some remarkable meteorological conditions at the time he encountered what he did. It’s important to remember that this was a one in a million situation.


Air France: 50 recovered bodies, 24 messages sent from the plane and June 25 is the tentative date for calling the search off

The search for bodies and debris from Air France Flight 447 took on renewed urgency, meanwhile, as experts questioned how much longer efforts would prove fruitful, even as six more bodies were pulled from the Atlantic.

Almost two weeks after the crash, Brazil’s military said that June 25 has been set as a tentative date for halting efforts and that starting Monday officials will meet every two days to evaluate when to stop the search, depending on whether they are still recovering bodies or debris.

Debris and bodies from the jet also contain crucial clues, and warm water temperature affects the length of time a body floats and remains visible to searchers.

According to the Brazilian military, the water temperature in the areas they are looking is averaging about 82 F (28 C) — warm water that speeds up the process of a body surfacing, floating and then sinking once again, said William Waldock, who teaches air crash investigation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.

“At this point, it’s not really surprising you are hearing them (the Brazilian military) talking about an end to the search,” Waldock said.

In water temperatures like those in the search area, he said, an intact body could likely float for two or three weeks — Air France Flight 447 went down May 31 with 228 on board. Those warm waters also mean there is a lot of marine life in the area and “they’ll break a body down faster,” Waldock said.

Navy Vice Adm. Edison Lawrence said the Brazilians “have information” that a French ship had found six more bodies, which would bring the total to 50. It was not clear when the bodies were recovered; Lawrence said he thought it was either Thursday or Friday. It wasn’t immediately possible to verify the information with French officials.

Medical authorities examining 16 bodies already brought onto land in Recife have refused to release information about the state of the corpses.

Weather in the mid-Atlantic was bad and getting worse. Rains reduced visibility for ships, and cloud cover blocked satellite imagery.

Experts have said the evidence uncovered so far points to at least a partial midair breakup of the Airbus A330.

The transcript of the 24 automatic messages sent from the plane in the minutes before it disappeared found on
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Postby U-5075 » Sun Jun 21, 2009 9:13 am

Two articles focusing on finding the black boxes. Doesn't look too encouraging. ... 604008.htm

Air France search scaled back
By Richard Reynolds

Posted 10 hours 7 minutes ago

Brazilian and French authorities are scaling back the search for bodies from Air France flight 447 which crashed in the mid-Atlantic ocean three weeks ago.

The Brazilian Air Force has withdrawn a sophisticated radar search plane from the operation, saying there is little more to be gained.

Fifty bodies have been recovered along with some debris from the plane itself, but there is little hope of recovering anything further.

There are still some smaller Brazilian and French Navy vessels scouring the area, but little has been recovered in the past week.

Meanwhile, a French nuclear submarine is still searching for the two black boxes from the flight.

The batteries which power the underwater beacons which would allow the sub to locate the boxes are expected to expire within the week.

The Air France Airbus A330 carrying 228 people from Rio de Janeiro to Paris came down in the Atlantic on June 1.

Massive ocean search for Air France black boxes

By Alexei Barrionuevo and Matthew L. Wald, New York Times

Posted: 06/19/2009 09:47:33 PM PDT
Updated: 06/19/2009 09:54:10 PM PDT

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Three ships and a nuclear submarine are engaged in the most extensive marine search for black boxes from an airline accident in modern aviation history, air safety experts said Friday.

Search teams, with crew and equipment from the French and U.S. navies, continued to sound the deep Atlantic waters on Friday, straining to hear an acoustic ping emitted from the flight data and cockpit recorders of Air France Flight 447, which crashed some 620 miles off the coast of northern Brazil in the early morning hours of June 1.

Veteran investigators said they could not recall a similar effort to locate a plane's recorders; these could contain information that is critical to solving the mystery of the downed Airbus A330.

"I can't think of any one event where there's been more than one military naval organization out there hunting for them," said Greg Feith, a former investigator at the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.

The vessels hunting for pings around the clock make up just part of the armada of surface ships and aircraft involved in the search and recovery effort, which includes at least 11 ships, 10 planes and two helicopters from four countries. The Brazilian military has more than 1,000 personnel devoted to the search.

As daunting and improbable as it seems to find tiny boxes in a huge ocean, especially with the crash site still uncertain, searchers almost always recover them, air safety experts said.

Of 20 total airplane crashes in water over the past 30 years, in only one case was neither recorder found during the crash investigation, said Curt Lewis, president of Curt Lewis & Associates, a safety and risk management consulting firm. In one other case, one of the two recorders was recovered, and in two instances he was not able to determine whether they were ever found, he said.

But this search is more difficult than most. French investigators are searching an area with a 50-mile radius and water depths exceeding 15,000 feet. Most airliner crashes over water have been along coastal waters or along the continental shelf, said Paul Hayes, air safety director of Ascend, an aviation consulting company in London.

"This is pushing the envelope," he said. "Because of the depth of the water, this may be the accident where they fail to do it."

Searchers are also pressed heavily for time. The boxes transmit signals for about 30 days before the signals start to fade. The batteries in the boxes on the Air France flight may have less than two weeks of life left.
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Postby U-5075 » Sat Jun 27, 2009 2:51 pm

The short version:
Black box search likely to end around 15 JUL 2009 ... -d0kq.html

Black box search

June 28, 2009
THE search for the black boxes of the Air France jet that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean is expected to continue, even though their audio beacons are likely to fade.

Brazil has halted the search for bodies and debris after recovering 51 bodies. Two hundred and twenty-eight people were on board the plane when it went down on June 1.

Aviation experts say the flight recorders may be key to determining what brought the airliner down but signals fade after about 30 days. American air force officers said the search for the flight recorders was likely to continue for 12 to 15 days after the 30-day limit.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
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