The French navy has located the immediate area around the flight recorders from Air France flight AF447 which crashed in the Atlantic last year. They are now within a 3 nautical mile area of the black boxes, which is 200 nautical miles north-west of the Brazilian archipelago of Sao Pedro and Sao Paulo.
However retrieving the Air France Airbus black boxes from the ocean floor might be near impossible.
The cause of the crash remains unknown but the aircrafts airspeed had given false readings, but officials believe other factors must also have contributed including blocked pitot probes or rudder failure similar to a crash in New York in November 2001.
Finding the black boxes from AF 447 will reveal flight data and cockpit conversations, allowing investigators to build a computer model of the final moments of the flight.
A French navy spokesman said: ‘It’s like trying to find a shoe-box in an area the size of Paris, at a depth of almost 10,000 feet and in a terrain as rugged as the Alps.’ and this search for AF447 is apparently ‘one of the most complex undersea operations ever’.
It will be interesting to see if any black boxes are found almost 1 year after the disaster.
The findings of the official Air France Investigation report that Air France Flight AF 447 did not break up in mid air, instead, hit the water intact. The French Air Accident Investigation bureau (BEA) said that the aircraft appears to have hit the water in flying position with strong vertical acceleration.
The airbus hit the water belly first but with an almost vertical descent. Hitting the water very very fast, items at the front of the aircraft were pushed to the back. It is unknown if the pilots were in control of the aircraft before it crashed. At that speed, the G-Forces would have the pilots pushed back in their seats and would possibly be unable to move their arms etc.
The black box and flight data recorders still have not been found and it is now over 30 days since flight AF447 crashed – they will continue searching for 10 more days. Honeywell, who make the black boxes, say that they have a 100% recovery record for FDRs. I think it is highly unlikely that these will now be found, unless they are entangled in a large piece of fuselage. What wasn’t addressed in the press release was (a) the multiple error messages and (b) how much of the fuselage of the airbus has been recovered.
Until they are found we will not know for definite what caused the crash.
There has been some speculation (including myself from day 1) that the rudder was a key element to the investigation of the air crash of Flight AF447. The tail was found last week and investigators are now reviewing whether or not the Airbus rudder was an issue. They are focusing on the part of the rudder which controls how much the rudder can move. Normally, a limiter prevents the rudder from swinging or moving too far – at high speeds an incorrectly positioned rudder could sheer off. There has been some speculation in the media that this Airbus had some issues regarding the rudder – I find this hard to believe, as any aircraft snag list which highlighted a rudder problem, you can be guaranteed that Air France would have brought the aircraft in for immediate repair.
Part of the Airbus Rudder / Vertical Stabiliser of Flight AF447
Technicians will be able to review the metal structure, looking for corrosion or metal sheer and may be able to deduce if the rudder failed on its own or if air speed was a factor. There are many large bolts in the area of the vertical stabiliser and perhaps one of these failed – however if you look at the amount of the tail fin was recovered it actually is only the fin part and does not come near the area where the structure is housed and secured.
Other air crashes which had rudder problems include on famous case in Japan where a JAL Boeing 747SR lost part of its rudder and crashed into a mountain. Other cases include SilkAir Flight 185, American Airlines Flight 587.
There are now many vessels, including some from USA and France covering hundreds of square kilometers every day listening for the pingers on the black boxes and flight data recorders which will stop working in about 2 weeks.
The next 2 weeks will be vital in the search for clues to why this modern airliner crashed.
I am going to remain quiet on this subject until the next major update from Brazil.
Two passengers who are known to authorities to be linked to Islamic terrorism were on board the Air France flight 447 which crashed last week. The French secret service established the highly significant terror connection (names of passengers who are radical Muslims considered a threat to the French Republic) while reviewing the AF447 passenger list.
It is almost certain that there were computer malfunctions possibly caused by a frozen pitot tube which resulted in slow transit into the story – terrorism has still not been ruled out in this case. One source has said that the names of these passengers could simply be a coincidence and that they are not terrorists at all.
France has received a few threats from radical Islamic terrorists groups since the French troops were sent to fight in Afghanistan in the “War on Terror”. French Security chiefs have been worried similar suicide attacks to September 11th. It is improbable that a terror organisation would want to do anything at such a remote location, in the past they have used highly populated cities and buildings to carry out their actions – unless perhaps any bomb or device was triggered prematurely with disastrous consequences.
A French nuclear submarine is now in the area listening for the Black Box pingers which will cease to operate in about 3 weeks. So far 41 bodies have been recovered, as well as the tail & rudder and some smaller pieces of Af447s debris about 1,100 kms off the coast of Brazil.
The Brazilian Air Force have arrived at the scene where they thought debris was to be found the UFO (unidentified floating object) was only a wooden pallet. No debris has actually been found. However some new theories have emerged.
1) The plane was flying too slowly through the storm. This was mentioned in a French Newspaper, stating that the A330 flew too slowly through the storm and may have stalled. Although this has been played down in the media it could have been a primary cause of the crash.
2) There was icing and this made the plane travel slower, or disrupted the airflow over the wings causing problems with the aircrafts control surfaces. Icing should not appear at those altitudes but for some reason it is presumed that icing may have occurred for flight 447.
3) There are reports of errors and warnings about speed. Did the pilots have incorrect information about the planes speed and this would have caused item #1 above (referring to the speed at which Flight 447 travelled through the storm). Could the aircrafts pitot tubes have been partially blocked, causing incorrect speeds to be displayed as they climbed. The pitot tubes have been involved in some major crashes over the years and cause very unusual cockpit readings as well as very sudden crashes, as seen on Seconds from Disaster and Air Crash Investigation on National Geographic.
Whatever the news over the weekend, it seems very very strange that absolutely no debris has been recovered.
It may be a long time before we find out the cause of the flight 447 crash.