quinta-feira, 16 de dezembro de 2010


By Simon Hradecky, created Monday, Jun 1st 2009 10:17Z, last updated Wednesday, Jun 3rd 2009 15:46Z
An Air France Airbus A330-200 (CF6-80E engines), registration F-GZCP performing flight AF-447 (dep May 31st) from Rio de Janeiro,RJ (Brazil) to Paris Charles de Gaulle (France) with 216 passengers and 12 crew, is overdue at Paris Charles de Gaulle for more than three hours following a scheduled 11:15 hours flight time and estimated arrival at 11:10 CEST (09:10Z). The airplane had departed Brazil's civil radar coverage normally.

A crisis and intervention center has been setup at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Brazil has launched a search and rescue operation off their coast along the last known radar positions near the Island of Fernando de Noronha after which the airplane had failed to establish required radio communication.

There have been no reports of an unscheduled landing anywhere on Atlantic Islands or airports surrounding the Atlantic. French Authorities report, that the airplane would have run out of fuel by now.

According to Forca Aerea Brasileira (FAB) the last radio contact with the crew was about 3 hours into the flight at around 01:33Z. The crew reported flying through severe turbulence. The airplane left civil radar coverage at 01:48Z at FL350 and was expected to report next at 02:20Z. At 02:20Z the crew did not report their position as expected prompting Oceanic Control to raise alert, also informing Dakar Air Traffic Control Center.

Air France reported, that they had received an automatic message from the airplane reporting an electrical short circuit and the failure of multiple systems at 02:14Z. Air Traffic Control as well as Military Stations along the Atlantic coast of South America, Africa, Portugal, Spain and France have been alerted and attempted to contact the airplane without success. Attempts to locate the airplane using civil and military radars from both west and east coasts (including France) of the Atlantic also proved unsuccessful. The airplane entered service in 2005 and had accumulated 18870 flights hours. The captain had 11700 flight hours, one of the first officers had 3000, the other 6600 flight hours.

Sources within Air France reported, that the automatic message did not only report an electrical short circuit, but also the loss of cabin pressure. This information has been confirmed by FAB, who also stated, that the position of the airplane was given as N3.5777 W30.3744 in that message.

New information provided by sources within Air France suggests, that the ACARS messages of system failures started to arrive at 02:10Z indicating, 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. That sequence of messages could not be independently verified.

Airbus Industries confirmed the loss of the airplane while still maintaining the status of the airplane officially as missing.

At 14:35Z Air France extended their sincere condolences to the family members of passengers and crew on board of the airplane. Psychological assistance is available at Charles de Gaulle Airport in France as well as at the airport in Rio de Janeiro.

The French BEA (Bureau for Accident Investigation) have opened an investigation into the loss of the A330 joined by Airbus Industries.

Air France has set up hotlines for family members at 0800 800 812 within France, 0800 881 20 20 within Brazil and +33 1 57 02 10 55 from other countries.

According to the FAB the airplane was tracking from waypoint INTOL to waypoint TASIL (entry point into Senegal airspace), positions reports would have put the airplane approximately 450nm northnortheast of the Island of Fernando de Noronha and right in the largest red zone on the infrared weather satellite image by NASA at 02:14Z. Weather Services said, that clouds and severe turbulence reached up to 55000 feet in that area.

The FAB confirmed, that the pilot of a TAM Linhas Aereas flight from Europe to Brazil reported bright spots on the ocean surface in Senegal's airspace. Senegal conducted a search in that area including having the vessel "Douce France" combing the area, the search however found no trace of the missing airplane. Earlier media reports had suggested, that the "Douce France" had found debris of the airplane in the same area, in which the TAM pilot had spotted the bright spots.

The United States have pledged support in the search of the missing airplane, especially satellite imagery and analysis thereof.

This marks the first loss of an Airbus A330 in commercial operation ever. Four hull losses of Airbus A330s had occured in non-commercial flights.

The sequence of messages reportedly received via ACARS raises memories of the Accident: Qantas A333 near Learmonth on Oct 7th 2008, sudden inflight upset injures 74 people on board and Incident: Qantas A333 near Perth on Dec 27th 2008, navigation system problem, and turns attention towards the emergency airworthiness directive released by both FAA and EASA, see also EASA issues updated emergency directive regarding Airbus A330 and A340 ADIRU issues.

Term Explanation
Normal Law: Regular operating mode of the fly by wire (FBW) including all protections.
Alternate Law: Some of the protections in normal law, the regular operating mode, are dropped.
Direct Law: The controls (sidestick) inputs are converted into direct movements of control surfaces without computations or checks.
ADIRU: Air Data and Inertial Reference Unit provides air data (airspeed, altimeter, ...) and positional data (attitude, position) to the instruments
ISIS: Integrated Standby Instrument System is a completely independent, self contained system providing a third independent set of basic instruments (attitude indicator, altimeter, airspeed indicator) to the crew
PRIM 1: Flight Control primary computer #1, three of them monitor each other, one of them controls the control surfaces as master
SEC 1: Flight Control secondary computer #1, each of the two can control all airplane control surfaces in direct law and can become master in case of failure of all primary flight control computers.

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