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Air France 447 – Air France transatlantic flight reported missing out of Brazil

Air France has confirmed that its flight AF447 from Rio de Janeiro is the one which has apparently disappeared while en route to Paris.

The French carrier is not confirming the aircraft type but the airline’s schedule shows that this service is normally operated by an Airbus A330-200.

Aircraft communication, addressing and reporting system data indicates that the aircraft is registered F-GZCP, a four-year old airframe, serial number 660, owned by Air France.

A spokeswoman for the carrier says it “regrets to announce” that the situation concerns its Rio service which was due to at Paris Charles de Gaulle at 11:15.

This flight departed Rio de Janeiro at 19:00, she adds, with 216 passengers, three crew and nine flight attendants.

While reports, citing the Parisian airports operator, suggest contact with the flight was lost at 06:00UTC – by which time the flight would have been just three hours from Paris – other reports indicate a search is underway closer to Brazil.

All Air France A330-200s are powered by General Electric CF6 engines.

Nathan Zalcman/AirTeamImages.com
© Nathan Zalcman/AirTeamImages.com

Air France: No success in contacting missing A330

Civil air traffic control authorities in Brazil, Africa, Spain and France have all failed in their attempts to contact the Air France Airbus A330-200 which vanished en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris overnight.

French military air traffic control, says Air France chief executive Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, has also tried to reach the aircraft but “without success”.

Flight AF447 departed Rio de Janeiro at 19:03 yesterday. Air France confirms that it experienced “strong turbulence” while flying through a thunderstorm at about 02:00UTC.

The aircraft then generated an automated message about a quarter of an hour later, at 02:14UTC, which Air France says was “indicating a failure of the electrical system” while the flight was in a remote coastal region.

Air France has confirmed the aircraft as airframe 660, registration F-GZCP, which had accumulated 18,870hr in flight. The twin-jet, powered by General Electric CF6-80E engines, was put into service in April 2005.

The carrier says the captain had logged 11,000hr including 1,700hr on A330 and A340 aircraft.

One of the two co-pilots had a total of 3,000hr, the other 6,600hr, with 800hr and 2,600hr on A330/340s respectively.

Air France adds that the aircraft last checked in for maintenance on 16 April.

It has confirmed that 216 passengers, including eight children, plus a crew of 12 were on board the flight.

Weather suspected in Air France A330 loss

Weather conditions have emerged as a leading suspect in the assumed loss of an Air France Airbus A330-200 that disappeared off the coast of Brazil last night.

The General Electric CF6-powered twinjet, F-GZCP, went missing about 3.5hrs after its 19:03 departure from Rio de Janeiro for Paris as flight 447 with 216 passengers and 12 crew on board.

In a statement Air France says: “The aircraft crossed a stormy zone with strong turbulence at 02:00 (UTC), or 04:00 in Paris. An automatic message was received at 02:14 indicating an electrical circuit failure in a remote area of the Brazilian coast.”

Search and rescue efforts have been underway all day but no trace of the aircraft has been found and no communications were received from the crew.

The aircraft was delivered in April 2005 and had recorded 18,870 flight hours, says Airbus. It last underwent maintenance on 16 April.

Brazilian ministry details last track of missing Air France A330

Brazil’s defence ministry has detailed the last known track of the missing Air France Airbus A330-200, and indicated that the jet may have reported a pressurisation problem as well as an electrical fault.

Flight AF447 had been en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris Charles de Gaulle with 228 occupants when it disappeared.

At 22:33 Brasilia local time, says the ministry, the aircraft made final radio contact with the eastern Brazilian Cindacta-3 Atlantic area control centre at Recife, one of four en route centres that oversee Brazilian airspace.

The aircraft contacted Cindacta-3 at the INTOL waypoint, some 350nm (565km) from Natal, a city on the Brazilian coast. It indicated that it would enter Dakar airspace, Senegal, at the TASIL waypoint – about 663nm (1,228km) from Natal just under 50min later, at 23:20 Brasilia time.

Nathan Zalcman/AirTeamImages.com
© Nathan Zalcman/AirTeamImages.com

AF447 left Cindacta-3 radar surveillance from the island of Fernando de Noronha, at 22:48. At this time it was cruising at 35,000ft at 453kt, says the defence ministry, with indications that the flight was “normal”.

The aircraft did not contact air traffic control around the time of the expected transit of TASIL.

The ministry says that Air France has informed Cindacta-3 that, about 54nm (100km) from TASIL the flight transmitted a technical message concerning loss of pressurisation and an electrical failure.

Brazilian Air Force rescue teams from Recife initiated a search at 02:30 Brasilia time, involving a Lockheed C-130 Hercules and Embraer P-95 Bandeirante.

French agency prepares A330 investigation team

French air accident investigation agency Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses has drawn up an inquiry team after being formally notified by Air France over the Airbus A330-200 which disappeared during a transatlantic service to Paris.

Air France has handed all its information on the missing flight, AF447 from Rio de Janeiro, to the BEA and Airbus.

BEA has cautioned against “hasty interpretation” of “fragmentary” and unconfirmed information.

But there is still no clarity regarding the fate or location of the aircraft.

Brazil’s ministry of defence has intensified the search effort, deploying three naval vessels, five aircraft and two helicopters to assist in the hunt.

Airbus says the twin-jet had accumulated about 2,500 cycles and flown about 18,800hr. It adds that it has offered “full technical assistance” to the investigation board.

While four A330 aircraft have previously suffered hull losses, all of them occurred in exceptional circumstances.

Two SriLankan Airlines A330s were destroyed in an attack on Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport in July 2001, while a Malaysia Airlines A330 was written off after a chemical spill in March 2000.

Airbus lost an A330 in a fatal accident in June 1994, during a performance test at the airframer’s Toulouse headquarters.


Air France 447 – Air France A330 Lost, Electric Fault Reported

Robert Wall/paris wall@aviationweek.com

An Air France A330-200 flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris overnight suffered an electric circuit fault while flying in a storm just before air traffic control lost all contact with the aircraft.

Air France says AF447 encountered stormy conditions and strong turbulence around 4 a.m. Paris time, or around four hours into the 11-hour flight. An automatic message about an electric fault was received around 4:14 a.m. Paris time.

Air traffic control from Brazil, Africa, and France failed in efforts to contact the aircraft, which was flying far off the coast of Brazil at the time.

The aircraft was carrying 216 passengers: 126 men, 82 women, seven children and a baby. Additionally, three pilots and nine cabin attendants were onboard.

The pilot in command, who has not been named, had 11,000 flight hours and 1,700 on Airbus A330/A340s under his belt. The copilots had logged 3,000 and 6,600 flight hours each, with 800 and 2,600, respectively, on the Airbus type model.

The aircraft, registered F-GZCP, was powered by General Electric CF6-80E1 engines. The A330 had logged 18,870 flight hours and entered service April 18, 2005, Air France says. The last hangar visit came April 16.

The aircraft had taken off at 7:03 p.m. local time, or 12:03 a.m. Paris time (6:03 p.m. EDT). Air France says it has notified the French accident investigation office, the BEA. Airbus, meanwhile, says it is ready to assist.

The crash in only the latest in a number of accidents Air France has suffered this decade, including the high profile July 2000 crash of a Concorde after takeoff from Charles de Gaulle killing 100 passengers and nine crew. In August 2005, the airline also suffered the loss of an A340-300, which overran the runway in poor weather conditions. All onboard survived.

File photo of Air France A330-200: Airbus


Air France 447 – Comunicado ANAC – voo Air France – 14h30

Brasília, 1º de junho de 2009 (14h50) – A Polícia Federal informou à Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil (ANAC) que entre as pessoas a bordo do voo AF 447, da companhia Air France, estavam 51 passageiros e um tripulante de nacionalidade brasileira. Entre os brasileiros, havia alguns com dupla nacionalidade.

A companhia aérea Air France está entrando em contato individualmente com os familiares dos passageiros do voo AF 447, em dois centros de atendimento no Rio de Janeiro, no Aeroporto do Galeão e no hotel Windsor, na Barra da Tijuca. Somente após a informação aos familiares é que a companhia aérea deverá divulgar a lista com os nomes de passageiros e tripulantes a bordo.

Os nomes de alguns passageiros poderão não ser divulgados, a pedido das famílias, desde que formalizado à companhia aérea.

Assessoria de Comunicação Social da ANAC
jornalismo@anac.gov.br
Telefones (61) 3441-8369 / 8370 / 8371 / 8372
NOVO PLANTÃO DE IMPRENSA – (61) 9112 8099


Air France – Air France Flight Missing With 228 Aboard

An Air France plane with 228 people on board went missing on its way from Brazil to Paris Monday, after hitting strong turbulence, prompting military jets to take off from both sides of the Atlantic to search for it.

Air France said in a statement the plane sent an automatic message reporting an electrical short-circuit at 0214 GMT, roughly 15 minutes after flying into the turbulence.

Senior French minister Jean-Louis Borloo ruled out the possibility of a hijacking of flight AF 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

“There was very, very strong turbulence. For now we can’t understand what happened,” Borloo said on France Info radio.

“Apparently the possibility of a hijacking has been excluded,” Borloo said.

Flight AF 447 has 216 passengers and 12 crew on board. It left Rio de Janeiro on Sunday at 7 pm (2200 GMT) and was expected to land at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport on Monday at 11:15 am (0915 GMT).

“It’s an awful tragedy. It’s dreadful… Until 10.45 am (0845 GMT) we could still have some hope, but at this stage the kerosene reserves have been more than used up,” Borloo added.

The jet’s last known location was unclear.

A government source in Brazil said the plane disappeared from Brazilian radar at around 0130 GMT, about three to 3 1/2 hours into its flight. That would mean controllers lost track of the plane while it was closer to Brazil than to France.

Henry Wilson, a Brazilian air force spokesman, said planes had taken off from the island of Fernando de Noronha off Brazil’s northeast coast to look for the Air France jet.

Jean-Christophe Ruffin, France’s ambassador in the west African country of Senegal, told French iTele that aircraft had also taken off from there to search for the missing plane.

The plane was an Airbus A330-200, according to the Paris airports authority web site.

RADAR HOLE

Pilots stay in contact with traffic control across the Atlantic by radioing in their position every 20 to 30 minutes. There is no radar cover because radar can only ‘see’ along a direct line of sight.

“Anything that’s the other side of the horizon cannot be seen by radar, so once you’ve gone 200 or 300 miles off the coast, radar cannot see you any longer,” said David Learmount of Flight International.

Air France said relatives of people traveling on board flight AF 447 were being taken care of in a special area of Charles de Gaulle airport.

Part of the terminal was briefly evacuated because of a suspect package but that turned out to be a false alarm.

The last major incident involving an Air France plane came in July 2000 when one of its Concorde supersonic airliners crashed just after taking off from Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris, bound for New York.

All 109 people on board were killed along with at least four on the ground.

Brazil had two major plane crashes in 2006 and 2007, raising concerns about the safety of air travel in Latin America’s largest country.

In July 2007, all 187 people on board and 12 people on the ground died when a TAM airliner overshot a runway at Sao Paulo’s Congonhas airport.

In September 2006, a Gol airline passenger jet crashed in the Amazon jungle after it and a small private plane collided. All 154 people on board died.


Iran Defuses Homemade Bomb On Plane – Report

Security personnel defused a homemade bomb found on an aircraft during a domestic flight in Iran late Saturday, Iranian media said, two days after a mosque bombing killed 25 people in the country’s southeast.

The incident occurred less than two weeks before the Islamic Republic holds a presidential election in which the conservative incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, faces a challenge from reformers.

“The enemies want to create a security-threat environment before the country’s presidential election and to create hopelessness among people,” the official IRNA news agency quoted Mohammad Hassan Kazemi, a commander in the elite Revolutionary Guard in charge of aviation security, as saying.

The semi-official Fars news agency said the device was defused after the Tehran-bound Kish Air aircraft with 131 passengers on board made an emergency landing in the southwestern city of Ahvaz.

“The plot… was unsuccessful due to the security forces’ awareness and those behind it were arrested,” IRNA said, without giving further details.

Ahvaz is the capital of Khuzestan province, where many of Iran’s oil fields are located. The province borders Iraq and is home to the mainly Shi’ite Muslim country’s Arab minority.

A Sunni opposition group named Jundollah (God’s Soldiers), which Iran says is part of the Islamist al Qaeda network and backed by the United States, said it was behind the bombing, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television said.

Iran has previously accused the United States of supporting Sunni rebels operating on its border with Pakistan. Jundollah says it fights for the rights of Iran’s minority Sunni population.

Kazemi said he could not confirm whether there was a connection between the plane incident and the mosque bombing.

Thursday’s bombing was the deadliest such incident in Iran since its 1980-88 war with Iraq. A blast in a mosque in the southern city of Shiraz killed 14 people in April last year but the country has otherwise been relatively peaceful.


China Eastern, Yunnan Province Plan Airline JV

China Eastern Airlines, one of China’s three major airlines, plans a joint venture with the government of Yunnan province to bolster its business in southwest China’s lucrative tourism market.

The airline said in a statement on Monday that it would own 65 percent of the venture, using its Yunnan unit as a platform, while the provincial government would hold the remainder.

The two sides have yet to work out financial details of the agreement.

The official China Securities Journal quoted China Eastern planning executive Chen Xin as saying the venture would aim to boost its market share in Yunnan province, a popular tourist destination with striking mountain and river vistas, above 50 percent by year-end, compared with the China Eastern unit’s current market-leading share of 42 percent.

The venture plans to add three Boeing 737-700 aircraft to the unit’s existing fleet of 37 aircraft this year, with the aim of expanding to 50 aircraft by 2011, the paper said. It also aims to expand its annual passenger volume to 8 million from 6 million.

China Eastern posted a CNY13.9 billion yuan (USD$2.04 billion) net loss in 2008 under Chinese accounting standards, as a slumping economy hit air travel demand and volatile fuel prices boosted costs. It received a CNY7 billion cash injection from the government as it struggled with losses.

The company’s board secretary told a briefing in April, however, that the airline may return to the black this year as economic stimulus measures by the Chinese government helped to spur economic growth.

China Eastern’s Yunnan unit was embroiled in a pilot’s dispute in the spring of last year, culminating in a suspension of China Eastern’s operating licenses on certain Yunnan routes in April after pilots returned several flights to their departure airports in what local media described as a wildcat strike.

Two other major Chinese carriers, Air China and China Southern Airlines, also operate in Yunnan.