Search for wreckage of French Airbus continues

Posted Jun 1, 2009 by Michael Cosgrove
The French have asked the USA and the Pentagon to help in the search by using its observation satellites and other technical means to focus on the search area. Catastrophic systems failure is being considered as a factor in the accident. Updates below.
Air France  Airbus A319-100
File photo: Air France's Airbus.
First reports hit Liberation and Le Figaro front pages at 09:50 GMT. The plane, an Airbus A330-200, Flight N° AF447, was on a scheduled flight from Rio de Janiero to Paris Roissy.
It disappeared at 06:00 GMT.
The plane was carrying 216 passengers and 15 crew.
16:55 Paris has asked Washington if US satellites and other technical means could be put to use in searching for the plane.
In another development, no signals were received from the distress beacon transmitters that automatically send out signals in case of unusual or violent plane movement. This only happens normally if there is a sudden failure of all systems aboard the plane. This would indicate in turn that the plane fell victim to a sudden and catastrophic failure and crash. The failures are said to be most probably due to extremely violent storm conditions and heavy lightning.
15:38 The majority of passengers on the plane are said to be of Brazilian nationality, according to French government spokesmen. Twenty others are said to be German.
15:26 France has sent two more planes out over the Atlantic to help in the search for the plane and any possible survivors, making a total of three planes in all. They are to join Brazilian planes already combing the search area.
14:57 Brazilian authorities have announced that the plane was flying normally at 35 000 feet and at a speed of 840 k/hour when it sent its last message. It was, however, in turbulence in a tropical storm zone and was about to enter the airspace of Senegal.
It was 565 kilometers from the Brazilian town of Natal.
14:28 Air France announces that there were about 60 French passengers aboard, as well as 5 Italians and 3 Moroccans.
14:15 Air France has given all its flight data and technical details concerning the flight to the Air France to the Study and Analysis Group at the BEA, the French organisation responsible for technical investigations into the cause of accidents and incidents concerning French civil aviation.
16:05 Air France has released some passenger list details. Passengers inluded 126 men, 82 women, 7 children and 1 baby.
The French Foreign Ministry has provided a contact number for French citizens abroad;
0 800 174 174. It has also activated its crisis management status.
15:58 The plane's captain is said to have sent a voice message saying that the plane had lost electrical systems just before all contact was lost and the plane fell off radar. An earlier automatically-generated message also indicated electrical circuit failure.
13:54 Moroccan aviation authorities have announced that the plane did not gat as far as the air space which it controls around the Canary Islands, which the plane would have been expected to reach under normal conditions.
12:47 The French Government has announced that it has sent planes from its air base in Dakar, Senagal, to help those Brazilian planes already looking for wreckage in a localised zone in the middle of the Atlantic.
12:35 Air France officals announce that the plane was going through a zone of heavy turbulence and storms as it announced electrical circuit breakdowns..
12:23 French aviation officials announced that there is "No hope of survivors" before going on to announce that the possibility of a hijacking had been eliminated from a list of possible causes.
12:10 The plane is said to have issued an emergency radio message announcing "Electrical Circuits Breakdown."
There were 8 children aboard.
11:50 The Brazilian Air Force is centering its search for the plane in the Atlantic Ocean, in an area to the North-West of the island of Fernando de Noronha, in the centre of the Atlantic.
11:45 French Aviation officals have announced to AFP that the plane is believed to have gone down well over the Atlantic, and not off the coast of Brazil. Maps are appearing in the French press indication that it may have gone down nearer the African coast than that of Brazil.
French government Minister Jean-Louis Borloo announces that "We have to be prepared for the worst."
11:20 Air France announcement. "Air France regrets to have to announce having no news from flight AF 447, Rio de Janiero - Paris with 216 passengers on board and shares the emotion and worry of concerned families."
The French State Secretary for Transport, Dominique Bussereau, is at Roissy, where facilities have been prepared for the families and friends of passengers.
11:04 A Roissy spokesman has just said that there is "No hope" that the plane is still flying.
11:00 A hotline has been put in place for those who may be concerned. It is;
0-800-800-812 in France and 00-33-1-57-02-10-55 for those outside of France.
10:46 The plane is an Airbus A330-200, the flight is flight N° AF 447. The Brazilian army cas announced it is conducting searches off the Brazilian coast.
10:40 French President Nicolas Sarkozy has asked the government and relevant authorities to do everything possible to find the plane and find out why it disappeared according to a communiqué from the Elysée
10:35 Plane confirmed to be carrying 216 passengers and 15 crew.
10:21 An Air France source confirms that they have had no news from the aircraft.
10:05 An airport source said "We are extremely worried. The plane fell off the screens several hours ago. It could be a transponder breakdown but that is a very rare kind of incident and the plane did not land at 10:10 as it should have done."
Air France management are unavailable for comment at this time.