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Thread: Air France 447

  1. #1
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    Default Air France 447

    What a horrible incident. When I think about the passengers on that jet during their ordeal, it sends shivers up my spine. When you get yourself settled for a long flight to anywhere, you really are putting your life in the hands of others.

    In DH's business, flight dispatchers follow weather patterns over land and ocean, flights check in routinely at checkpoints for updates, and many of these weather problems can be avoided. But now DH tells me only the good ol' FAA requires that flight dispatchers follow flights internationally over the oceans. I was not aware that many overseas carriers do not follow their flights over long expanses of the oceans.

    I bet Air France wishes they did. If I was a family member, it would not be pretty. Sincere sympathy and condolences to the families of those lost at sea.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Air France 447

    Here are the known facts about that flight, as reported by Reuters.

    FLIGHT AF 447

    May 31

    2203 GMT - Air France says the plane, an Airbus A330-200, takes off from Rio airport with 216 passengers and 12 crew.

    June 1

    0148 GMT - The aircraft leaves Brazilian air force radar, flying normally at 35,000 feet at a speed of 453 knots.

    0200 GMT - Air France says the plane crossed into a "stormy zone with heavy turbulence".

    0214 GMT - The plane sends automatic messages indicating an electrical fault, Air France says. Prime Minister Francois Fillon says messages were sent regularly over a three minute period showing all "systems were out of order". Brazilian authorities are reported as saying messages also indicated a loss of pressure in the aircraft. No mayday or distress signal received.

    0220 GMT - Air traffic controllers expect update from plane. Nothing happens. Soon after, it fails to enter Senegal airspace.

    0910 GMT - Plane due to land in Paris, but never arrives. Half an hour later, Air France announces the plane is missing.


    Despite the messages indicating the systems malfunction, it is too early to point to mechanical failure or the lack of visual/radio contact as being the culprit. Weather and/or turbulence could have been the root cause of the crash. Any kind of blame or finger-pointing is all based on speculation at this point in time. The bottom line is that we will have to wait for the black box to be recovered and the plane debris to be examined before more authoritative statements can be made about what exactly happened.

    My condolences to the family and friends of those 228 victims.
    This post may contain an opinion that may conflict with your opinion. Do not take it personal. Polite discussion of difference of opinion is welcome.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Air France 447

    Chances of retrieving the black box are slim, at best. This occurred in some of the deepest parts of the Atlantic ocean.
    Weather at the time was 'severe'.

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    Default Re: Air France 447

    The black box which incidentally is bright orange has it's own beacon and they will find it.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Air France 447

    This article offers more information about the black boxes (a.k.a. cockpit voice and flight data recorder) which, as Barry correctly points out, are not literally black in color.

    http://www.tampabay.com/news/busines...cle1006804.ece

    The best clues to what caused the crash of Air France Flight 447 could lie inside two devices, each the size of a couple of shoe boxes, some 3 miles deep in the Atlantic Ocean.

    The tough, little "black boxes'' can withstand massive impacts and send a "ping'' noise from depths of 20,000 feet that ships with underwater microphones can use to locate them.


    But the homing signal will only last for about 30 days, so the folks assigned to the search-and-recovery operation are on a race against time.

    The last black boxes not found were from the two hijacked jets that hit the World Trade Centers on Sept. 11, 2001. Investigators assumed they were incinerated by the intense heat, he said.
    This post may contain an opinion that may conflict with your opinion. Do not take it personal. Polite discussion of difference of opinion is welcome.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Air France 447

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Whitfield View Post
    Chances of retrieving the black box are slim, at best. This occurred in some of the deepest parts of the Atlantic ocean.
    Weather at the time was 'severe'.
    Quote Originally Posted by Barry View Post
    The black box which incidentally is bright orange has it's own beacon and they will find it.
    I'm leaning more with Ron than Barry on this one. Even the experts are saying that the task of finding and recovering the flight data and cockpit voice recorders (the "black boxes") will be formidable.

    From a Reuters report:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/topNe...55155120090602

    ..."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.

    "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. You are very quickly looking at a large area to survey and could spend months running sonars down to a deep depth."

    ...Based on reports of the plane's probable location, Neil Wells, senior lecturer in oceanography and meteorology at Britain's National Oceanography Center, said the black box could be more than 4,000 metres below the surface. "There is no doubt about it; you will be pushing the limits of the technology. It is not a straightforward operation."

    The oil industry has significant unmanned deep-sea capability but only operates down to 3,000 metres... Such depths are well below the reach of manned craft.

    A handful of deep-sea prowlers such as the U.S. Navy's Alvin, which surveyed the wreck of the Titanic at 4,000 metres below the Atlantic in 1986, could be equipped for such depths.


    All that being said, it sounds like authorities are determined to find and recover the flight recorders if at all possible. From the same Reuters report:

    Whatever the challenges, industry experts say the stakes are too high to give up on the search. "Not knowing would be totally unacceptable to Airbus and to aviation in general," said David Learmount, safety and operations editor of British-based aerospace magazine Flight International.

    And may I daresay, most deserving of answers are the families and loved ones of those who were lost in this tragedy. My sincere sympathy and condolences to them all.
    To be, or musubi... What was da question?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Air France 447

    I'm thinking the U.S. Navy (or another country w/ modern subs) will need to get involved. I'm imagining two scenarios:

    1) a patrolling submarine happened to be near enough to hear the plane hit the water

    2) a submarine is able to search the area, using its hydrophones to listen for the beacon


    Submarine design is a constant arms race between silence and hearing. The Seawolf class attack submarine has the best sonar technology America can muster. The question is: is it good enough for the above two scenarios?

    How loud was the sound of the plane hitting the water? How close would a sub need to be, to detect that sound among the background noise in the ocean (keeping in mind they aren't expecting such an event to occur)? Was the sub at the proper depth to hear it (the ocean has different layers of water where sound tends to stay within)?

    If not the sound of the crash, how about the sound of implosions, as the plane sinks below crush depth? The fuselage probably broke apart on impact and flooded with water. Are there any other containers holding enough air to make a loud enough "POP"?

    If the crash wasn't / can't be detected, what about the acoustic beacon? They think the plane is sitting at 9k to 14k feet. The Seawolf can go down to 2k. Is that close enough to hear it? Sound can travel surprising distances, underwater. Submarines can deploy a towed sonar array behind them. Can they sink one down to great depths?

    How noisy is the ocean in that area? Will the terrain surrounding the resting place muffle the sounds from the becaon?

    Will the fact that the beacon sounds off every second aid in its detection? Did you know cellphone and GPS radio signals are weaker than background noise, yet we can still receive phone calls and our bombs still land where we tell them to (doesn't mean we gave them the right target)?


    And finally, beyond technology issues, would the Navy want to get involved? Do they want to reveal their capabilities? Do they want to have their submarines (whose job is to roam around undetected), hanging around in predictable places?

    I'm thinking they'll try (though they might not tell anyone), just to test out their technology and training. I imagine they'd also tell the world if (and only if) they find it. Might be difficult to resist an opportunity to brag.
    "By concealing your desires, you may trick people into being cruel about the wrong thing." --Steven Aylett, Fain the Sorcerer
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    Default Re: Air France 447

    This was sent to me by somebody who is attached to the French airforce.
    It is not mine but I hope it will be allowed ?

    GPS is completely different to radar. Radar transmits radio waves which 'bounce' back off any object it meets. A GPS device (as in a car) is passive & transmits nothing. It measures the time taken for the signal from several satellites to reach it & then works out where it is from that.
    Aircraft have beacons which will transmit to satellites in an emergency. It would appear that in this case it didn't work. The flight recorder, or Black Box, has a beacon of its own which means that it will eventually be found.

    Please don't think I am supporting them because I was brought up in France. Quite the opposite ! I feel it's a case of incompetence on the part of the French. They have the facilies to track planes, submarines or whatever. Maybe this will shake them up ?

    I can't see the Brit Royal Navy being involved. Relationships are somewhat strained between here and France.
    Last edited by Barry; June 2nd, 2009 at 11:25 PM.

  9. #9
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    Red face Re: Air France 447

    New France debris found, explosion unlikely
    Search crews flying over the Atlantic found debris from a crashed Air France jet spread over more than 55 miles of ocean on Wednesday, reinforcing the possibility it broke up in the air. But Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim said the existence of large fuel stains in the water likely ruled out an explosion, undercutting speculation about a bomb attack.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Air France 447

    On May 27th, an Air France jet of alsmost the same routes as 447 had a bomb scare, but nothing was found.
    In another recent incident, at roughly the same crash site area, a pilot sez a large missile or rocket had passed below him by 150'.
    Seem's the wreckage is in two major pieces and laying in different spots, signifying it was ripped in half by some force/s.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Air France 447

    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie's Market View Post
    FLIGHT AF 447

    May 31

    2203 GMT - Air France says the plane, an Airbus A330-200, takes off from Rio airport with 216 passengers and 12 crew.

    June 1

    0148 GMT - The aircraft leaves Brazilian air force radar, flying normally at 35,000 feet at a speed of 453 knots.

    0200 GMT - Air France says the plane crossed into a "stormy zone with heavy turbulence".

    0214 GMT - The plane sends automatic messages indicating an electrical fault, Air France says. Prime Minister Francois Fillon says messages were sent regularly over a three minute period showing all "systems were out of order". Brazilian authorities are reported as saying messages also indicated a loss of pressure in the aircraft. No mayday or distress signal received.

    0220 GMT - Air traffic controllers expect update from plane. Nothing happens. Soon after, it fails to enter Senegal airspace.

    0910 GMT - Plane due to land in Paris, but never arrives. Half an hour later, Air France announces the plane is missing.
    The Associated Press reports more details have surfaced re: the exact nature of the messages Airbus A330 was sending out just before it disappeared and encountered disaster.

    11 p.m. local time — The pilot sends a manual signal saying the jet was flying through CBs — towering cumulo-nimulus thunderheads.

    11:10 p.m. — A cascade of automatic messages indicate trouble: The autopilot had disengaged, stabilizing controls were damaged, flight systems deteriorated.

    11:13 p.m. — Messages report more problems: The system that monitors speed, altitude and direction failed. The main flight computer and wing spoilers failed.

    11:14 p.m. — The final message indicates a loss of cabin pressure and complete system failure — catastrophic events in a plane that was likely already plunging toward the ocean.


    As more information has come to light, investigators are looking more and more into the possibility that extraordinary weather conditions (rather than terrorism or electrical/structural defects within the A330) triggered the disastrous series of events that led to the systems failure and the jet physically breaking apart as it dived into the ocean.

    http://www.postchronicle.com/news/or...12234749.shtml

    Based on weather information from Fernando De Noronha, the updrafts associated with the thunderstorms may have reached up to 100 mph. Such an updraft would lead to severe turbulence for any aircraft. In addition, the storms were towering up to 50,000 feet and would have been producing lightning. The Air France plane would have encountered these stormy conditions, which could have resulted in either some structural failure or electrical failure as noted in the communications between the Airplane and Air France headquarters.

    Based on satellite information, the Air France flight had little chance of going around the storms given that they stretched for over 400 miles and were developing along the flight path. The airplane was flying at cruising altitude of 35,000 feet. With the updrafts pushing the storms up to 50,000 feet, the plane had to fly through the storms and not over them.

    We've all heard the expression about getting hit by a "perfect storm." Well, what the weather and satellite information describes here is the mother of all perfect storms. A huge, HUGE storm system that the pilots couldn't fly around or above. And the storm itself lashing out updrafts of up to 100 mph. Throw into this already toxic mix, the possibility of direct lightning hits.

    Slowly but surely, investigators are putting together the puzzle of what happened after flight 447 disappeared. But I have to emphasize here once again,.... that picture could dramatically change if the flight recorders are found. So as long as the black box transmits a homing signal, you can bet that an exhaustive search will continue to be made. There are still too many unanswered questions.
    Last edited by Frankie's Market; June 3rd, 2009 at 06:30 PM.
    This post may contain an opinion that may conflict with your opinion. Do not take it personal. Polite discussion of difference of opinion is welcome.

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    Default Re: Air France 447

    Quote Originally Posted by musubi View Post
    "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. You are very quickly looking at a large area to survey and could spend months running sonars down to a deep depth."
    To be fair the Titanic sank in 1912 way before SONAR was developed and refined during the two World Wars and the Cold War. So if a ship the size of the Titanic sank today it wouldn't take 70 years to find it.

    I do agree with the statement that the looking for the aircraft's flight data and voice cockpit recorders will be very hard to do since it is smaller, that it is a deep depth and the bottom is not flat in that area.

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    Default Re: Air France 447

    I attended a tradeshow where Robert Ballard gave the keynote speech (he's the fellah who found the Titanic). Instead of using sonar to find the ship itself (a mere dot in the vast ocean), he decided to look for its debris trail (a line of furniture and stuff miles long).

    He started his search at the Titanic's last know position. He zig-zagged in the direction the currents were moving, on the night of the accident. Once he found one piece of debris, he simply followed the trail and it led him straight to the Titanic.
    "By concealing your desires, you may trick people into being cruel about the wrong thing." --Steven Aylett, Fain the Sorcerer
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    Default Re: Air France 447

    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie's Market View Post
    [...]Well, what the weather and satellite information describes here is the mother of all perfect storms. A huge, HUGE storm system that the pilots couldn't fly around or above. And the storm itself lashing out updrafts of up to 100 mph. Throw into this already toxic mix, the possibility of direct lightning hits.[...]
    I don't want to even think what the terrifying moments leading up to death must've been like. At this point it doesn't sound like everything was fine one second, then it was all over the next. Such a shame. My heart goes out to the families who are now dealing with this tragedy.

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    Default Re: Air France 447

    The strange part is that either the crew didn't have time to radio in that they were in trouble or that they tried but their radio equipment wasn't working at the time but the plane's internal messaging system sent out at least 5 different messages to the company's aircraft maintaince section.

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    Default Re: Air France 447

    Quote Originally Posted by MyopicJoe View Post
    I'm thinking the U.S. Navy (or another country w/ modern subs) will need to get involved.
    The offer's been extended to France, and with France re-joining NATO exercises then perhaps they'll want to accept. But it's unpredictable. They don't want to be seen as weak and they're notorious among the military for putting pride before common sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by MyopicJoe View Post
    Submarine design is a constant arms race between silence and hearing. The Seawolf class attack submarine has the best sonar technology America can muster. The question is: is it good enough for the above two scenarios?
    How loud was the sound of the plane hitting the water? How close would a sub need to be, to detect that sound among the background noise in the ocean (keeping in mind they aren't expecting such an event to occur)? Was the sub at the proper depth to hear it (the ocean has different layers of water where sound tends to stay within)?
    If not the sound of the crash, how about the sound of implosions, as the plane sinks below crush depth? The fuselage probably broke apart on impact and flooded with water. Are there any other containers holding enough air to make a loud enough "POP"?
    SEAWOLF has the best hull arrays but a lot of the processing hardware has been tested on LOS ANGELES-class and VIRGINIA-class subs and, in some cases, retrofitted to their hulls. The acoustic advantage is minor and dependent on more than just which class of sub.

    As far as searching it's a matter of who's where doing what, whether they can break free of their current ops, and how long it'll take them to get down there. It's not a popular area for U.S. Navy subs unless UNITAS or some other exercise is in progress. I'm not sure exactly where USS HAWAII is right now, but I don't think anyone would mind if they got to Pearl Harbor a few weeks late.

    As you've said, acoustic conditions would've been a mess. If that storm is as nasty as the media says then the sub would've been deeper than 400 feet and perhaps well below any acoustic layer. Even if the submarine had been submerged at the position where the airplane hit the water, the noise would've been explained away as the storm/wave action. There's a possibility that an alert operator would've heard implosions (bottles & cans) but they would've had to be listening on that bearing at that time or go back through the tapes. The transients would show up on a visual waterfall display for a few minutes and would have been recorded on the sonar tapes, but they might not have been recognized as what's called "breaking-up noises". Highly unlikely that they would've realized what they were hearing and what caused it.

    When U.S. Navy submarines are disposing of trash they compact it, put it in weighted containers, load it in the trash-disposal tube, shut the breech door real tight, open the hull valve, and drop/flush the cans out of the hole at the bottom of the hull. Occasionally a bottle or can won't be compacted correctly, and its air bubble will cause it to implode as the container sinks. It's easily detectable at distances up to at least a mile but again an operator would have to see it on the video display, be listening on that bearing, and be able to put it into context. Lots of other critters and storm/wave noises sound similar.

    What would be more likely to pick up the crash would be the remnants of the U.S. SOSUS arrays. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SOSUS) I haven't kept up with the system status but if a couple different arrays detected the impact and transients then they'd be able to more precisely triangulate the site. (But again that storm could have messed up conditions too much for detection.) If that's been done, then the U.S. will pass along a position at high diplomatic levels and find a cover story to keep SOSUS out of the media.

    Quote Originally Posted by MyopicJoe View Post
    If the crash wasn't / can't be detected, what about the acoustic beacon? They think the plane is sitting at 9k to 14k feet. The Seawolf can go down to 2k. Is that close enough to hear it? Sound can travel surprising distances, underwater. Submarines can deploy a towed sonar array behind them. Can they sink one down to great depths?
    How noisy is the ocean in that area? Will the terrain surrounding the resting place muffle the sounds from the becaon?
    Will the fact that the beacon sounds off every second aid in its detection? Did you know cellphone and GPS radio signals are weaker than background noise, yet we can still receive phone calls and our bombs still land where we tell them to (doesn't mean we gave them the right target)?
    It's not the depth (although the towed arrays can be streamed out several thousand feet astern), it's the acoustic conditions. Military sonar systems will use their instrumentation (and whatever historical/climatological survey data is available) to analyze the local conditions and tweak their electronics.

    The black box has been designed to be heard by surface sonars or surface towed arrays, so it'd be easy to detect on a submarine system. If the box survived. If its batteries and transducers are working correctly. If it's not buried too deep in mudslides or under rocks. If they're within a few miles.

    Quote Originally Posted by MyopicJoe View Post
    And finally, beyond technology issues, would the Navy want to get involved? Do they want to reveal their capabilities? Do they want to have their submarines (whose job is to roam around undetected), hanging around in predictable places?
    Sure, but the national command authorities are going to have to set the priorities. Some poor staff officer has been figuring out how fast half of SUBLANT's units can get down there and then telling the flag officers what can be done, how soon it can happen, and what else will have to be postponed or canceled. But this is a great chance for the submarine force to show what it can do, and I can't think of anything with a higher priority.

    The U.S. & French navies might share information. Any really cool technology or other classified details will be explained away as hard work (by the French) or luck. If the French are feeling particularly grateful then they might acknowledge the U.S. Navy's contribution, and then the Navy might talk about the submarine involved. Otherwise SUBLANT will just hand out a box of medals "for operations in the highest levels of national interest".

    Once the box is located, the U.S. sub would back off and a surface-supported ROV or rescue vehicle will go recover it. I think they're better at it (and more affordable) than anything the submarine force (of any country) can do.

    Quote Originally Posted by MyopicJoe View Post
    I'm thinking they'll try (though they might not tell anyone), just to test out their technology and training. I imagine they'd also tell the world if (and only if) they find it. Might be difficult to resist an opportunity to brag.
    Allied countries share a lot of information about where their submarines are operating, although specific times/locations are usually a box of about 20 miles square. The French will declare that part of the ocean their submerged operating area, which will obligate everyone else to stay out of it at their peril (and embarrassment). A proficient U.S. submarine crew would be able to sneak in & out undetected, but the whole idea carries a huge amount of unpredictable risk with unacceptable safety/diplomatic consequences. There probably wouldn't be a collision but it's not unheard of for other submarines to lose their towed arrays or to get things wrapped around their hulls or screws.

    I can't imagine anyone from SECNAV on up wanting to take those kinds of risks for this sort of reward. You'd be surprised how much imagery has the periscope crosshairs removed before anyone outside of the submarine force sees it, even within the U.S. Navy. If American forces found the box, they'd pass the info to the French and let them have the credit for future reimbursement. No reason to brag or get greedy. The right people would know who got the job done, and that's all that matters when the next round of budget authorizations is up for discussion.

    Of course in a few years we could be reading unconfirmed reports about it in an update to "Blind Man's Bluff"...
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  18. #18

    Default Re: Air France 447

    Heard it mentioned last night that a meteor could possibly be the culprit.
    Slight, but not impossibly slim, supposedly a 1 in 10 chance.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Air France 447

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Whitfield View Post
    Heard it mentioned last night that a meteor could possibly be the culprit.
    Slight, but not impossibly slim, supposedly a 1 in 10 chance.
    I wouldn't believe that Art Bell kind of story.

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    Lightbulb Re: Air France 447

    U.S. to send more personnel, equipment to help search Air France 447
    The U.S. Defense Department said on Monday that it would send a team to help find the black box recording flight data of the crashed Air France 447. The Pentagon said in a statement that the 19-person crew, including military personnel and contractors, would fly along with Navy equipment to Natal, Brazil, to aid in the search for Air France Flight 447's data recorders.
    12 similar flights deepen Air France 447 mystery
    Airlines confirmed that at least a dozen aircraft departed roughly at the same time and traversed approximately the same route, but did not report problematic weather conditions. This has led some aviation experts to suggest that technical problems on the airplane might be the main cause of the crash, though they may have combined with weather conditions to create serious problems.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Air France 447

    Quote Originally Posted by Walkoff Balk View Post
    I wouldn't believe that Art Bell kind of story.
    This theory was out prior to any coast to coast show mentioning it. They merely picked up on it.
    Many CTC topics have been scoffed at over the years, only to become legitimized with further proof and acceptance.
    Disbelieve at your own risk.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Air France 447

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Whitfield View Post
    Heard it mentioned last night that a meteor could possibly be the culprit.
    Slight, but not impossibly slim, supposedly a 1 in 10 chance.
    Quote Originally Posted by Walkoff Balk View Post
    I wouldn't believe that Art Bell kind of story.
    Actually, the recent mention in connection with Air France flight 447 came from a Discover Magazine blog post, but the initial suggestion was made by two Columbia University science professors, in a 1996 letter to the New York Times, referencing TWA flight 800.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Air France 447

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Whitfield View Post
    This theory was out prior to any coast to coast show mentioning it. They merely picked up on it.
    Was that theory really was on The Art Bell Show. I just mention this program as a reference for space out conspiracy ideas.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leo Lakio View Post
    Actually, the recent mention in connection with Air France flight 447 came from a Discover Magazine blog post, but the initial suggestion was made by two Columbia University science professors, in a 1996 letter to the New York Times, referencing TWA flight 80
    Another thing nervous flyers will have to worry about possibly going wrong.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Air France 447

    Update - as reported today by AP:

    Autopsies suggest Air France jet broke up in sky
    To be, or musubi... What was da question?

  25. #25

    Default Re: Air France 447

    Quote Originally Posted by musubi View Post
    Update - as reported today by AP:

    Autopsies suggest Air France jet broke up in sky
    How disturbing. Passenger jets are supposed to be able to withstand even hurricane force winds (at least that's what the fear of flying website told me once ). That means that the AirBus composite materials may be insufficient compared to more traditionally built planes. I'll stick to flying on Boeing for now.

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