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Air France wreckage is not Air France wreckage

June 6th, 2009 at 12:51am

It seems that ill-fated Air France flight 447 is actually still missing, and that the stuff which they thought was wreckage is actually just “sea junk”.

France’s transportation minister said Friday that French forces have found no signs of the Airbus A330 airplane that vanished over the Atlantic and urged “extreme prudence” about suspected debris taken from the ocean.

Dominique Bussereau said he regretted that an announcement by Brazilian teams that they had recovered plane debris from Air France flight 447 turned out to be false.

The Brazilian air force announced Thursday afternoon that a helicopter plucked an airplane cargo pallet from the sea that came the Air France flight, but then said six hours later that it was not from the Airbus.

“French authorities have been saying for several days that we have to be extremely prudent,” Bussereau told France’s RTL radio. “Our planes and naval ships have seen nothing.”

Bussereau said the search must continue and stressed that the priority was finding the flight recorders. The plane went down Sunday night with 228 people on board in the world’s worst aviation disaster since 2001.

Meanwhile Airbus are issuing some rather concerning safety messages about the A330

Such warnings from Airbus to its clients are only sent if accident investigators have established facts that they consider important enough to pass on immediately to airlines, an industry official told Reuters.

The French air accident investigation agency (BEA) has said the speed levels registered by the slew of messages from the plane showed “incoherence,” Reuters reports.
Investigators are looking into whether malfunctions in instruments used to determine airspeed may have led the plane to be traveling at the wrong speed when it encountered turbulence from towering thunderstorms over the Atlantic Ocean.

Two aviation industry officials told The Associated Press on Thursday that investigators were studying the possibility that an external probe that measures air pressure may have iced over. The probe feeds data used to calculate air speed and altitude to onboard computers. Another possibility is that sensors inside the aircraft reading the data malfunctioned.

If the instruments were not reporting accurate information, the jet could have been traveling too fast or too slow as it hit turbulence from violent thunderstorms, according to the officials.

Jetliners need to be flying at just the right speed when encountering violent weather, experts say — too fast and they run the risk of breaking apart. Too slow, and they could lose control.
European planemaker Airbus has sent an advisory to all operators of the A330 reminding them of how to handle the plane in conditions similar to those experienced by Flight 447, which was an Airbus A330-200 version.
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, Dubon said.

It’s almost a week now since the plane went missing, so I have to wonder if any of the wreckage (assuming that it crashed and didn’t just disappear in to thin air) would still be floating, and more importantly, be floating near any other wreckage.


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