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Vast search of Atlantic Ocean for Air France jet

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Man I hate hearing about plane crashes.....good luck.

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RIP

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Tragic news indeed. What could have happened? The pilots must have blacked out or surely there would have been time to send out a mayday.

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RIP. I avoid as much as possible Air France. Other that random strikes, that is one of the reason...

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franz75, I strongly recommend you to contact moderator and ask this last post removed. This is a free bad-adverstisement that no company wants. Plus, Air France is quite reliable. If you follow this train of thought you're gonna fly only Qantas.

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franz75... I agree, here in europe Air France is not a good Label, especially because of the strikes. I'm working with some french people, they all avoid their national flight carrier...

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At the very least it was most likely over very quickly. A tragic waste of life. CNN now reporting a possbile lightning strike. I cant help but think about the TV show lost, substitute Pacific for Atlantic and an airliner mysteriously disappearing. If the wreckage is in deep water, may never know what happened.

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LostinNagoya: you are right. it is out of topic and offending. still... the few times I had to fly with them, I had problems...

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Rest in Peace these people unfortunately are gone. It's a pretty new plane having entered service in 2005, I wonder if they suffered a lightning strike?

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Air France travellers may have had enough sufferings, but this one seems tragic accident and i am anxiously waiting for list of passengers onboard.

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OH NO! I'll go switch on CNN now.

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While it may be what we fear, why not wait for an official announcement before starting to post 'RIP'? Jesus.

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"RIP"

There's been no confirmation of any deaths yet. Maybe, just maybe, the pilot made a Hudson River style landing on the ocean.

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Can a plane get stuck by lightening at cruising altitude?

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SuperLib, Yes. Thunderheads can go about 10,000 feet above the cruising altitude of airliners.

That said, planes are designed to take direct strikes from lightning and fly on unharmed. A direct strike shouldn't have done anything worse than scare the passengers.

What's more likely is the severe turbulence they encountered along with the thunderstorm exceeded the design limits of the plane and there was a structural failure destroying the plane's ability to remain in level flight.

There was no contact from the crew reporting a problem so the problem must have been massive and immediate. Therefore, the odds of a successful ditching are astronomically thin.

We'll never know what happened unless the FDR and CVR are recovered.

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I am always told that planes are immune to lighting, but are they really? The Airbus is fly-by-wire, it would seem to me that when everything is electric, an electric shock can do a lot more harm than when there are old-fashined cables and pulleys as backup.

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That is one thing that has always bothered me with fly-by-wire, if something happens, you can really be in trouble. But I doubt that is the problem in this case anyway. I think Airbus is an extremely reliable aircraft and I've always enjoyed flying in them. Anyway, hopefully we'll have some news in few more hours.

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The fly by wire planes have hydraulic backup in case something goes FUBAR with the FBW equipment. The skin of the aircraft is specifically designed to shunt any electrical charge around the OUTSIDE of the plane and let it continue on its journey on the opposite side. All the electronics and cabling are shielded against such a strike to prevent damage to the computerized avionics.

Like I said, something very bad happened very fast and the pilots were either unable, or too preoccupied with trying to save the plane, to communicate with the ground.

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Planes are generally immune and hardened to lightning strikes. It could have been an explosion akin to what destroyed the TWA flight south of Long Island ten years ago. But it's rather early to speculate.

It is pleasant to think that they might have ditched successfully. I'm going to stick with that until we hear otherwise. But I am not optimistic. There are very few reasons why a plane couldn't broadcast a mayday unless it broke apart in flight.

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Guess now we need to complain more about airbus/boeing jets and make trans-ocean travel more safer via more safe jets or better pilots or better whatever else.

According to news,pilot had about 11,000 hours of flight experience.

228 citizens of France,Brazil,USA,,UK,Canada,Ireland,Lebanon,Morroco,Poland,Russia,Sweden,Switzerland and many other nationals on this plane,not a great day for safety, in global international jet travel industry.

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You can't make a plane immune to the forces of nature. I'm a private pilot (not a commercial one) and can tell you that one of the first things they drill into your head even at my level of proficiency is that a thunderstorm is not deadly because of the lightning, but because of the opposing columns of air that will either flip or snap in two even the largest aircraft. A storm cell has a center column of warm air rising rapidly up to about 44,000 feet, then it cools and falls just as rapidly around the outside of the warm column. The wind shear caused by this will ruin your day in a heartbeat.

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What a horrible way to die! I feel so, so sorry for all of the passengers and crew of Air France, now somewhere deep, deep cold and dark vast Atlantic Ocean! RIP and I hope they are found soon, to bring some kind of closure to the victim's family and friends on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Fadamor is 100% right on.

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What CNN is reporting is that the last communcations from the plane had to do with an electrical problem. Other planes had been flying through the same general path before and after the Air France flight.

Nothing takes away from this being a terrible tragedy. What I most want is for the aircraft to be located and the data recorders recovered so that we can understand what happened.

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I really despair when I read about this sort of accident. The thought of all that potential suffering is enough to send you to an early grave or a loony bin. But if this plane was so modern, weren't any of the parts fitted with any kind of GPS or similar locating device? After 9/11, and various accidents when it took months to find the wreckage you'd really have expected them to fit something like that to make it simple to locate a plane when things go wrong. Or maybe there's footage from a satellite camera which might shed some light on where they ought to look? As things stand, they think it might have gone down immediately after the turbulence, but supposing it didn't? Why should I believe that the communications are immune to breakdown but the plane isn't? They could be miles away from the turbulence, without GPS or footage from satellites we may never find them, including any survivors that there may be - slim though the chance may seem.

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Fadamor at cruising altitude and hitting even the strongest of the strongest of air columns, it will still stake them 3-4 minutes to hit the water. I'm a private and sail plane sports pilot myself, and I know what you are talking about, but I still suspect they had a massive electrical failure on main and backup circuits, otherwise they would have been able to send our a message (the automatic messaging system tried to send a message about electrical failures).

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Maybe, just maybe, the pilot made a Hudson River style landing on the ocean.

sadly impossible: Sully was gliding his plane controlled, at low speed and landed on smooth water in daylight.

This plane was flying an high speed, had electrical failures so most likely out of control from high altitude and landing in rough ocean swell at night time.

Air France's emeregency number isn't working for overseas callers and Air France has yet to contact some family members. (seen on BBC). Get it together Air France.

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I pray for the lost souls especially for the children and the baby on board. I hope the angels of heaven welcome you all with open arms. This is a cruel way to go. RIP.

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I think that we all know by now that “an accident” is never just that, it is usually a set of circumstances any single one of which wouldn’t be catastrophic in it self but when added together are just that. What Fadamor makes sense when coupled with something else I read earlier today about a lightening strike being able to temporarily knock out the electronics including both communications & radar which would have left the pilot blind as to just what he was flying into. Automatic back ups plus onboard manual repairs would have been possible, but not if the aircraft flew straight into the middle of a monster storm, which that part of the Atlantic is know for. Two Lufthansa flights went through the same storm, one half an hour before & one an hour later, but for some reason Lufthansa are being extremely coy & are refusing to say what their pilots reported.

dammit at 08:15 AM JST - 2nd June

All large aircraft (& military aircraft) are fitted with a beacon that sends out an identity code so finding the aircraft isn’t going to be the problem, savaging it however will be, that is a very deep part of the Atlantic to have gone down in. As for any ideas about a safe “landing” that far out from land. No way.

At the moment all is just speculation but it would be the miracle of all miracles if anybody survived. What a horrible way to die & what an even more horrible way to lose someone you love. My thoughts go to those left behind.

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I find it hard to believe that this storm was so big and nasty that it just surprised the pilots.

ALL modern airliners have weather radar on board and can clearly see where NOT to fly plus they get updates constantly from air traffic control and other pilots flying through the area. This storm did not rip this plane a part because no one saw the storm coming.

Far more likely that 'someone' underestimated the size and strength of the storm and got beat down or it was something else not weather related. I been up in the flight deck enough times through bad weather that even a non-pilot like myself can clearly see what approaching storms look like and the really tall, nasty back breaking ones show up in a way that screams DON'T EVEN THINK OF COMING HERE!!!

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Lightning might have been part of it, but by no means the sole reason. I have been on planes struck by lightning twice and although it isn't much fun, the air crew immediately reassure you that there is nothing to be worried about.

What I would ask our resident aviation experts - and there seem to be a few people who genuinely know what they are talking about on these boards - is could it have been bad turbulence? I always understood that crashes as a result of wind shear only occur close to the ground or near mountains? I have never heard of a flight at cruising altitude simply falling out of the sky - only the Swissair crash out of New York sounds at all similar to this...

Thoughts...?

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But if this plane was so modern, weren't any of the parts fitted with any kind of GPS or similar locating device?

They have transponders. The hijackers switched them off on 9/11, and the one on the Air France plane yesterday stopped working for some reason. That's unusual.

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Himajin at 10:03 AM JST - 2nd June

I know the transponders can be switched off from within the aircraft, but I was under the impression that the nose cone beacon could only be switch off by ground crew from the out side. I am not an aviation expert so I may well be wrong.

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If you see weather, stay out of it as much as possible.

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frontandcentre:

is could it have been bad turbulence? I have never heard of a flight at cruising altitude simply falling out of the sky - only the Swissair crash out of New York sounds at all similar to this...

Yes, it could be...But it should be a very strong one, to cause a structural damage, and it should have been seen on a plane's weather radar. However, the modern planes, including A330, are very strong. Swissair Flight 111 crashed into the ocean near Nova Scotia in 1998. The reason was a fire in the cockpit which burned the electrical insulation and caused a complete electrical failure. The A330 case also reminds me of the Pulkovo Flight 612 (2006) crash near Donetzk. The reason was a pilot error while flying in a severe storm - flying too high in a thin and "hot" air (-30 degrees instead of the usual -50) and exceeding the alpha limit which caused the plane to enter a flat spin. The T-tail aerodynamic configuration of the Tupolev 154 renders the recovery from flat spin nearly impossible (However, A330 has an "alpha-floor" - a robust protection - via auto thrust - against the approach of critical alpha).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulkovo_Aviation_Enterprise_Flight_612

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uJHIzXQWXk

Also: Southern Airways Flight 242 (1977) had problems due to storms. The plane lost thrust of both engines and crash landed. The cause was "the ingestion of massive amounts of water and hail which in combination with thrust lever movement induced severe stalling in and major damage to the engine compressors":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Airways_Flight_242

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySKsQQn_GQQ

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Swissair's fire was due to the insulation know as Kapton wires. I believe they are now avoiding using that wire now. For this one the messages were electrical failure and sudden loss of pressurization which would indicate that maybe the fuselage was breached. This could be severe wind shear and/or lightening. Mother Nature can be more powerful than what we prepare for. This could have been a freak accident involving her.

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I hope they will find survivors but the chances are slim :( (RIP)

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There has been talk of past accidents with large quantities of hail being sucked into the engines.

No-one has mentioned it so far, but planes have experienced complete electrical and engine shutdown when flying through clouds full of corrosive volcanic ash. I can recall at least two offhand. One was a Dutch 747 over Alaska. Could some of the ash from erupting volcanoes in the Caribbean or South America be mixed in the clouds at such altitudes, I wonder?

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My 2 cents: it could have been a lightning, a very powerful one. Brazil is the most lightning hit country in the world, and there´s a study saying that i the last years there have been unusual strong ones. They don´t know the reason, but scientific guesses range from the global warming to sun bursts. Also, UOL Brazil has a link stating that authorities have not dismissed the possibility of a bomb. So, it´s too early to know what really happened. Official results take what, years?

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If they pilots can play with the radar antenna tilt and the beam, they can check the areas of weakest returns to go through if they have no choic but to penetrate a line of thunderstorms. These can go for thousands of miles near the Equator and if deviating too far could mean burning to much fuel and not making it.

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As I was the one who mentioned a bomb, it is hardly possible that it was the reason for this accident. Authorities have just let open the possibility, among hundred different ones, until they can come with an explanation.

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Cmon people, lightening strikes, engine failure, fire on board... doesn't affect the ability to communicate with the tower. This sounds like a complete electrical meltdown leaving the pilots flying blind. Sabatoge ? Perhaps. The plane had its regular maintenance just two months ago. A slow corroding acid would do the trick I imagine... lets hope thats not the case. Sad story.

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TWA400 never issued a mayday after the center fuel tank exploded. If the plane comes apart suddenly the electrical failure will be systemic and the crew may not have time to send a message. Automatic systems would just do what they were supposed to until they lost power or an antenna. We won't know what happened until they get the flight recorders back. I would bet that there are deep sea submersibles on the way to the area for when they have a place to look. It's a tragedy. Nothing to be done but pick up the pieces.

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TWA 400 did not explode. Google it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TWA_Flight_400

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