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article imageAir France AF447: No in-flight breakup says official report

By Michael Cosgrove     Jul 2, 2009 in World
The initial report on the AF447 disaster has excluded an in-flight breakup of the plane. The report has just been released by the BEA, the official body carrying out the enquiry in France. It says the plane crashed vertically.
AF447 was the Air France Airbus 330-200 flight which crashed into the Atlantic on 1 June on a flight from Rio de Janiero to Paris.
The BEA’s (Bureau of Investigation and Analysis) head investigator into the crash, Alain Bouillard, said in an interview given this afternoon at Bourget, near Paris that “The plane was not destroyed in-flight. The plane seems to have hit the surface of the water after strong vertical acceleration.” He went on to present the interim report, established from the first elements of the investigation.
Among the debris recovered were several pieces of the plane’s structure and cabin. Also noted was the discovery of non-inflated life-preservers, that which indicated that “clearly show that the passengers were not prepared for a ditching attempt.”
The Pitot tubes, instruments which provide information relative to the plan's speed, are said to be one of the factors which may have contributed to the accident, but not the only one.
The report has surprised many observers of the accident in the light of reports from on-site investigators who repeatedly declared that the bodies found appeared to have fallen from a great height outside of the plane and were found at large distances from each other.
The report cites certain characteristics of the debris as being evidence that the plane hit the water intact, although commentators on this element are underlining that an in-flight breakup could have produced the same effects.
Other investigation-sourced leaks and reports also suggested an in-flight breakup.
More information from the report is expected to be put online by the French press shortly.
Families of the victims have demanded much more clarification of accident details and have hired British lawyers to represent their claims. They say that the BEA, Air France and Airbus are not being as forthcoming as they should be and that much information is being withheld.
Meanwhile, the search continues for the plane’s flight recorders.
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