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Home > Air Crash > The Crash of Air France Flight 447
The Crash of Air France Flight 447
Aviation - Air Crash
Tuesday, 02 June 2009 16:28

Dear Captain Lim,

What is your thought about the Air France incident today?

Do you think weather was the main cause? How much turbulence can an aircraft withstand? Could downdrafts in this weather system have pushed the plane into the ocean?

Is it true that the wings are extremely flexible for turbulence?

Have you ever flown in the zone near the equator?

Thanks for your opinion.

Bill Spieler

Hi Bill,

I feel sad for the loss of lives arising from the Airbus A330 accident. Although weather was stated as the probable cause of the crash, no one can be absolutely certain until the flight data and cockpit voice recorders are recovered.

Whatever I know about the accident at the moment is gleaned from the newspapers, TV or the Internet. Airplanes are designed to withstand the worst of the turbulence but certainly not those freakish ones! Downdrafts are unlikely to push the planes into the ocean unless it was flying very low. I believe the Airbus A330 was cruising between 35,000 to 40,000 feet.

Wings of planes are meant to flex in the air. For instance, the wings of the Boeing 777 can bend up to 24 feet but I am not sure how much the wings of the A330 could bend in comparison.

Yes, I regularly fly around the equatorial zone and thunderstorms are the most vicious around! Some have speculated that lightning may be one of the causes as the plane flew inadvertently into the brutal storm that it could not handle.

Ah, all these are just speculation! We have to wait for the investigators to tell us the exact reason as the search for the cause begins. More about the crash from the breaking news in the YouTube video below…

Crash of Air France Flight 447


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The Last 4 Minutes.
This is a cut and paste from Skynews:

I've just got this from someone I trust. It originates within Air France. Translation below;

'The ACARS messages of system failures began to arrive at 02:10Z. Indication was that the
autopilot had disengaged and the fly by wire system had changed to alternate law. Between 02:11Z and 02:13Z a flurry of messages regarding ADIRU and ISIS faults arrived. At 02:13Z PRIM 1 and SEC 1 faults were indicated, at 02:14Z the last message received was an advisory regarding cabin vertical speed."

"Received 4 minutes of automatically triggered satcom transmission from the plane, cascading systems failures, electrics, depressurization."

I ran this past an expert. It confirms the theories doing the rounds. It says the plane automatically sent the messages. These are not verbal messages from the pilots. A sudden event caused the autopilot to disengage. The 'cascade' is one system after another failing within seconds of each other. That included the cabin pressure. This suggests the pilots would have had little or no time to attempt to do anything.

The advisory on 'cabin vertical speed' is the last message. It may be an automated 'ping' but it still manages to be chilling. The expert says the the fact that the messages were sent out over a four minute period concurs with significant parts of the plane, especially the cockpit, still being intact as the different parts of the signalling computers would have to be attached to the mainframe.

It looks interesting, I only wish I knew what it is trying to explain.
D&G , 03 Jun, 2009
I read an earlier post here regarding a series of Airbus jets that the FAA has said risk TWA Flight 800-type events. Perhaps this happened? Also, I thought lightning could never bring down a plane but rather skirt through it. Similarly, I thought planes flew at 35,000 feet to fly above weather. And I thought planes were tested to travel through severe weather.
Derek , 04 Jun, 2009
Stage 1:
Auto-pilot disengaged, pilot facing unlikely event that auto-pilot was not an option anymore.

Stage 2:
Fly-by-wire system, change to alternate law flying method. Several system down, unable to provide computerized flying system. The aircraft computer big possibility short circuit, cause by bad weather or lightning create massive static electricity that was harmful to avionic system.

Stage 3:
Air Data Inertial Reference Unit down. Completely lost. At this time, can both engine down, loss of power?

Stage 4:
Cabin depressurized cause power lost. The plane lost its ability to maintain cabin pressurization, emergency oxygen system deployed.

Captain Lim,

The above was my understanding from the official statement from a website. The last stage, which is stage 4 had really come across my mind about the fatality.

= Pilot incapacitation from hypoxia causing the uncontrol aircraft encoutered stall in high altitude

For unknown reason, the pilot and crew might too focused on the aircraft system and forgot the their own safety.

Although the plane lost of power, I bet it still able to glide about 20min from 35,000ft and ditch at Altantic Ocean like US Airways A320-200 to Hudson River.

This is just my comment based on the fact I gathered.
Eric , 04 Jun, 2009
I have flown over a hurricane near Florida and the plane was struck by lightning back in the mid 80's.

Big bang, lights go out and the planes drops a few thousand feet. I'm finding weather very implausible and leaning towards bomb.

I have never ever heard of a plane after cruising for over 4hrs exploding in mid air (witnessed by a pilot)and a bomb not being involved.

TWA was only in the air for less then an hour so count that theory out. Honestly this has me really puzzled...
D&G , 05 Jun, 2009
Air France Flight 447: A detailed meteorological analysis
Di , 07 Jun, 2009
Is It Legitimate to Ask Your Commerical Carrier Whether They Have Replaced Pitot Tubes on Aurbus A330s?
Dear Captain Lim:

I have an upcoming transatlantic flight from Atlanta, GA to Rome on an Airbus A330-300. After the news that faulty Pitot Tubes might have led to the Air France flight, I'm wondering if it is legitimate to ask one's commercial carrier whether they have replaced the suspect Pitot Tubes on their A330s. It seems that although U.S. Air and Delta (the only two U.S. carriers flying A330s to my knowledge) say they have "begun" replacing the tubes, they refuse to disclose how many of their A330s still have the suspect tubes. Should I consider questioning my carrier on the issue or trying to get a flight on a Boeing 767-ER instead? I note today that some pilots unions are urging pilots not to fly A330s that don't have new Pitot Tubes.
Miles , 09 Jun, 2009
Pitot tubes
I am no expert on these things, but I find it slightly puzzling as to how wrong information to the systems from a faulty pitot tube could contribute to what is seemingly a complete failure of the computers, and seemingly very fast development of events?

It sounds very much like the aircraft suffered some form of structural failure.
Simon , 10 Jun, 2009
I don't really know to much about flying eaven if in the last 2 years i do'it weekly, my question is that if the messages that were sent by the plain (Auto-pilot disengaged,Fly-by-wire system, change to alternate power,Cabin depressurized) are recieved in real time and by who? And if so why they only come up with this afther almoust 2 weeks from the crash?

Sorry for my bad english
Cristian , 10 Jun, 2009
I love airbus planes but I cannot believe that the "pitot tubes" are the only instruments to determine speed. To me this looks more like the AA Airbus 300 accident in NY. As engineers we can predict the behavior of steel and aluminum but I am not sure about the space age composites. Who knows????
John , 12 Jun, 2009
So apparently the plane landed on water at high speed? Why was no communication made with traffic control?
D&G , 03 Jul, 2009

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