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.
By now the black boxes of Flight AF447 pinging divices have certainly stopped sending out locator information. The investigators know the general location of the crash, but due to the vast size of the search area and the fact that the ocean is miles deep in those locaions, the black box, if found would be of little use. It could be corroded and the combination of the salt water and pressure would probably destroy the box before it could be found.
Investigators into the AF447 crash have made primary results known, blaming the pitot tubes, saying that they probably froze over and gave incorrect data to the auto-pilot.
Either way, the issues will need to be looked into.
I’m flying on Air France soon, I’m not overly worried as the Airbus is a superb machine, however, if the blog is not updated in the next 3 weeks, It could be, because I can”t get decent internet connection from beyond the grave 🙂
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.
Another Airbus aircraft has crashed, this time a Yemeni airliner crashed in the Indian Ocean. The Yemenia Airbus 310 flight IY626 was flying from the Yemeni capital Sanaa – however the flight originated in France.
The only survivor (this far) was a five-year-old child.
Apparently EU officials did question Yemenia’s safety record and proposed a world blacklist of those carriers which they deemed to be unsafe. It is usually not the aircraft which is the problem but more often than not, poor maintenance or poor (substitute) parts which have been found in many crashes, which can contribute towards air disasters. These are 2 very different aircraft and 2 companies with very different records – so you cannot really draw anything into them having the same manufacturer. There are also rumours that France banned this airline in 2007.
The Airbus that crashed on June 1st and this Airbus both crashed at similar Longitudes, both flying at night, both around the equator, and were both Airbus flying in windy weather – but apart from that there are no details about whether or not a mayday message was issued. One official did say thatthe control tower had received notification the plane was on vectors for approach, a few miles out, and then lost contact with it.
After the Air France Airbus crash on June 1, NTSB accident investigators have been probing two recent failures of airspeed and altitude sensors and pitot tubes aboard Airbus A330s. The failures occurred on flights between the United States and Brazil in May and between Hong Kong and Japan in June. Both aircraft landed safely and there were no injuries or damage, however it is an unusual occurrance.
This latest crash comes near the point where a hijacked Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 crashed near a beach on the Comoros islands in 1996, killing 125 of 175 passengers and crew. Many of those who died had inflated their life jackets inside the aircraft – the crash was filmed on camera, as holiday makers lay enjoying the sun.
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.