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Air France Flight 447

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Air France Flight 447

F-GZCP, the aircraft involved in the accident

Accident summary
Date 1 June 2009
Type Under investigation
Near waypoint TASIL, Atlantic Ocean[1]
3°30′N 30°30′W3.5°N
30.5°WCoordinates: 3°30′N
30°30′W3.5°N 30.5°W (approximate)
Passengers 216
Crew 12
Fatalities 228[1] (all)
Survivors 0
Aircraft type Airbus A330-200
Operator Air France
Tail number F-GZCP
Flight origin Rio de Janeiro-Galeão International Airport
Destination Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport

Air France Flight 447 was a scheduled commercial flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, that
crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on 1 June 2009, killing all 216 passengers and 12 crew

The aircraft, an Air France Airbus A330-200 registered as F-GZCP, took off on 31 May 2009
at 19:03 local time (22:03 UTC). The last contact from the crew was a routine message to
Brazilian air traffic controllers at 01:33 UTC, as the aircraft approached the edge of Brazilian
radar surveillance over the Atlantic Ocean, en route to Senegalese-controlled airspace off the
coast of West Africa. Forty minutes later, a four-minute-long series of automatic radio
messages was received from the plane, stating numerous problems and warnings. The aircraft
was believed to have been lost shortly after it sent the automated messages.[3]
On 6 June 2009, a search and rescue operation recovered two bodies and debris from the
aircraft floating in the ocean 680 mi (1,090 km) northeast of the Fernando de Noronha islands
off Brazil's northern coast. The debris included a briefcase containing an airline ticket, later
confirmed to have been issued for the flight.[4] On 27 June the search for bodies and debris
was called off. A total of 51 bodies were recovered.[5]

The investigation into the accident is severely hampered by the lack of any eyewitness
accounts and radar tracks, as well as the airplane's black boxes, which have not been
recovered from the ocean floor.[6][7] The search for the black boxes was called off on 20
August, but the Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile (BEA)
later announced that it would resume the search later in 2009.[8] The search continued through
May 2010, and on 6 May it was reported that the location of the black boxes had been
pinpointed to within a 3–5 km2 area. French Navy spokesperson Hugues du Plessis d'Argentre
described the task of finding the devices as "trying to find a shoe box in an area the size of
Paris, at a depth of 3,000 m (9,800 ft) and in a terrain as rugged as the Alps," cautioning that
there is no guarantee the data recorders will be recovered.[9]

The accident was the deadliest in the history of Air France.[10][11] Paul-Louis Arslanian, the
head of the French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA)
described it as the worst accident in French aviation history.[12] It was the deadliest
commercial airliner accident to have occurred since the 2001 crash of American Airlines
Flight 587 in New York City.[13] It was the first fatal accident involving an Airbus A330 while
in passenger service and remained the only fatal accident involving the A330 until Afriqiyah
Airways Flight 771 in May 2010 crashed in Tripoli, Libya.


• 1 Aircraft
• 2 Disappearance
o 2.1 Automated messages
o 2.2 Weather conditions
• 3 Search and recovery
o 3.1 Search effort
o 3.2 Search results
• 4 Investigation
o 4.1 Airspeed inconsistency
• 5 Passengers and crew
o 5.1 Notable passengers
• 6 Flight number
• 7 Media
• 8 See also
• 9 Notes
• 10 References
• 11 External links
o 11.1 Press releases

o 11.2 Other
[edit] Aircraft
The accident aircraft was an Airbus A330-203, manufacturer serial number 660, registered as
F-GZCP which first flew on 25 February 2005.[14][15] The aircraft was powered by two General
Electric CF6-80E1 engines with a maximum thrust of 72,000 lbs giving it a cruise speed
range of Mach 0.82 – 0.86 (871 – 913 km/h, 470 − 493 KTAS, 540 – 566 mph), at 35,000 ft
(10.7 km altitude) and a range of 12,500 km (6749 NM).[14] The aircraft underwent a major
overhaul on 16 April 2009,[16] and at the time of the accident had accumulated 18,870 flying
hours.[14] On 17 August 2006, the A330 was involved in a ground collision with Airbus A321-
211 F-GTAM, at Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris. F-GTAM was substantially damaged while
F-GZCP suffered only minor damage.[17] The plane made 24 flights from Paris, to and from 13
different destinations worldwide, between 5 May and 31 May 2009.[18]

[edit] Disappearance

Rio de Janeiro
22:03, 31 May
Fernando de Noronha
01:33, 1 June
Last known position
N2.98 W30.59
02:10, 1 June
Expected at 09:10,
1 June
Approximate flight path of AF 447. The solid red line shows the actual route. The dashed line
indicates the planned route beginning with the position of the last transmission heard. All times are

The aircraft departed from Rio de Janeiro-Galeão International Airport on 31 May 2009 at
19:03 local time (22:03 UTC), with a scheduled arrival at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport
approximately 11 hours later.[1]

The last verbal contact with the aircraft was at 01:33 UTC, when it was near waypoint INTOL
( 1°21′39″S 32°49′53″W1.36083°S 32.83139°W), located 565 km (351 mi) off Natal, in
Brazil's north-eastern coast. The crew reported that they expected to use airway UN873 and
enter Senegalese-controlled airspace at waypoint TASIL ( 4°0′18″N 29°59′24″W4.005°N
29.99°W) within 50 minutes, and that the aircraft was flying normally at flight level 350 (a
nominal altitude of 35,000 ft/11,000 m) and at a speed of 467 knots (865 km/h; 537 mph).[1]
The aircraft left Brazil Atlantic radar surveillance at 01:48 UTC.

[edit] Automated messages

An Air France spokesperson stated on 3 June that “the aircraft sent a series of electronic
messages over a three-minute period, which represented about a minute of information.
Exactly what that data means hasn't been sorted out, yet.”[19] An aviation safety expert
explained a few days later that “complete failure would require 100% failure of the electrical
system,” which “did not happen early in the flight, because the system was uplinking data to
the maintenance facility, indicating there was some electricity on the airplane.”[20]

The messages, sent from an onboard maintenance system, Aircraft Communication

Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS), were made public on 4 June 2009.[21] These
transcripts indicate that between 02:10 UTC and 02:14 UTC, 5 failure reports (FLR) and 19
warnings (WRN) were transmitted.[22] The messages resulted from equipment failure data,
captured by a built-in system for testing and reporting, and cockpit warnings also posted to
ACARS.[23] The failures and warnings in the 5 minutes of transmission concerned navigation,
auto-flight, flight controls and cabin air-conditioning (codes beginning with 34, 22, 27 and 21,

Among the ACARS transmissions in the first minute is one message that indicates a fault in
the pitot-static system (code 34111506).[21][24] Sources close to the investigation confirmed that
“the first automated system-failure message in a string of radio alerts from the incident
aircraft explicitly indicated that the airspeed sensors were faulty”.[25] The twelve warning
messages with the same time code indicate that the autopilot and auto-thrust system had
disengaged, that the TCAS was in fault mode, and flight mode went from 'normal law' to
'alternate law'.[26][27] The 02:10 transmission contained a set of coordinates which indicated
that the aircraft was at 2°59′N 30°35′W2.98°N 30.59°W.[Note 1]

The remainder of the messages occurred from 02:11 UTC to 02:14 UTC, containing a fault
message for an Air Data Inertial Reference Unit (ADIRU) and the Integrated Standby
Instrument System (ISIS).[27][28] At 02:12 UTC, a warning message NAV ADR DISAGREE
indicated that there was a disagreement between the independent air data systems (more
precisely: that after one of the three independent systems had been diagnosed as faulty and
excluded from consideration, the two remaining systems disagreed). At 02:13 UTC, a fault
message for the flight management guidance and envelope computer was sent.[29] One of the
two final messages transmitted at 02:14 UTC was a warning referring to the air data reference
system, the other ADVISORY (Code 213100206) was a "cabin vertical speed warning".[30][31][32]

[edit] Weather conditions

A meteorological analysis of the area surrounding the flight path showed a mesoscale
convective system extending to an altitude of around 50,000 feet (15 km; 9.5 mi) above the
Atlantic Ocean before Flight 447 disappeared.[33] From satellite images taken near the time of
the incident, it appears that the aircraft encountered a thunderstorm, likely containing
moderate turbulence.[34]

Detailed analysis of the weather conditions for the flight shows it is possible that the aircraft's
final 12 minutes could have been spent "flying through significant turbulence and
thunderstorm activity for about 75 mi (121 km)", and may have been subjected to rime icing,
and possibly clear ice or graupel.[33] Satellite imagery loops from the CIMSS clarify that the
flight was coping with a series of storms, not just one.[35]

Commercial air transport crews routinely encounter this type of storm in this area. Generally,
when storms of this type are encountered at night, pilots use onboard radar to navigate around

In this instance, shortly after the last verbal contact was made with Air Traffic Control about
350 mi (560 km) north-east of Natal (station identifier SBNT), the aircraft likely traversed an
area of intense deep convection which had formed within a broad band of thunderstorms
along the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ).[37] Turbulence in the vicinity of these
rapidly-developing storms may have contributed to the accident.[33][35][38][39] According to news
sources, 12 other flights shared more or less the same route that Flight 447 was using at the
time of the accident.[40][41]

[edit] Search and recovery

[edit] Search effort

Colonel Jorge Amaral, deputy head of the Aeronautical Communications Center of the
Brazilian Air Force, discussing the search for the aircraft.

On 1 June at 02:20 UTC, Brazilian air traffic controllers contacted air traffic control in Dakar
after noticing that the plane had not made the required radio call signaling its crossing into
Senegalese airspace.[42] The Brazilian Air Force then began a search and rescue operation
from the Brazilian archipelago of Fernando de Noronha,[42] and at 19:00 UTC on 1 June,
Spain sent a CASA 235 maritime patrol plane in search and rescue operations near Cape
Verde.[43] French reconnaissance planes were also dispatched, including one Breguet Atlantic
from Dakar,[44] and the French requested satellite equipment from the United States to help
find the plane.[45] Brazilian Air Force spokesperson Colonel Henry Munhoz told Brazilian TV
that radar on Cape Verde failed to pick up the aircraft over the Atlantic Ocean.[42]

Later on 1 June, officials with Air France and the French government had already presumed
that the plane had been lost with no survivors. An Air France spokesperson told L'Express
that there was "no hope for survivors,"[46][47][48] and French President Nicolas Sarkozy told
relatives of the passengers that there was only a minimal chance that anyone survived.[45]

Also late on 1 June, the deputy chief of the Brazilian Aeronautical Communications Center,
Jorge Amaral, confirmed that 30 minutes after the Air France Airbus had transmitted the
automatic report, a commercial pilot had reported the sighting of "orange dots" in the middle
of the Atlantic, which could indicate the glow of wreckage on fire.[49][50] This sighting was
reported by a TAM Airlines crew flying from Europe to Brazil, at approximately 1300 km
(700 miles) from Fernando de Noronha.[49][50] Another similar sighting of "something flashing
brightly over the ocean then taking a descending vertical trajectory" was reported by the
Spanish pilot of Air Comet Flight 974[51] flying from Lima to Madrid. The Brazilian
newspaper O Globo reported that wreckage debris was discovered off the Senegalese coast,
but that its origin was still uncertain.[52] EarthTimes and news.com.au reported that the crew of
the French freighter Douce France spotted debris floating on the ocean in the area earlier
indicated by the TAM crew.[53][54]

On 2 June at 15:20 (UTC), the Brazilian Air Force, using an Embraer R-99A fitted with
Erieye radar, found wreckage and signs of oil, possibly jet fuel, strewn along a 5 km (3 mi)
band 650 km (400 mi) north-east of Fernando de Noronha Island, near the Saint Peter and
Saint Paul Archipelago. Spotted wreckage included a plane seat, an orange buoy, a barrel,
"white pieces and electrical conductors".[55] Later that day, after meeting with relatives of the
Brazilians on the aircraft, Brazilian Defence Minister Nelson Jobim announced that the Air
Force believed the wreckage was from Flight 447.[56][57] Brazilian vice-president José Alencar
(acting as president since Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was out of the country) declared three
days of official mourning.[58][59]

Also on 2 June, two French Navy vessels, Foudre and Ventôse, were en route to the suspected
crash site. Other ships sent to the site included the French research vessel Pourquoi Pas?,
equipped with two mini-submarines able to descend to 6,000 m (20,000 ft),[60] since the area
of the Atlantic in which the plane went down may be as deep as 4,700 m (15,400 ft).[61] A
United States Navy Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion anti-submarine warfare and maritime patrol
aircraft was deployed in the search.[62]

On 3 June, the first Brazilian Navy ship, the patrol boat Grajaú, reached the area in which the
first debris was spotted. The Brazilian Navy sent a total of five ships to the debris site; the
frigate Constituição and the corvette Caboclo were scheduled to reach the area on 4 June, the
frigate Bosísio on 6 June and the replenishment oiler Almirante Gastão Motta on 7 June.[63][64]

On 5 June, French defence minister Hervé Morin announced that the nuclear submarine
Émeraude was being sent to the area, to assist in the search for the missing flight recorders or
"black-boxes" which might be located at great depth.[65] The submarine would use its sonar to
listen for the ultra-sonic signal emitted by the black boxes' "pingers".[66] On 10 June, the
Émeraude reached the crash zone of Air France Flight 447 with plans to troll 13 sq mi (34
km2) a day, listening for the pingers. The Émeraude was to work with the mini-sub Nautile,
which can descend to the ocean floor. The French submarines would be aided by two U.S.
underwater audio devices, capable of picking up signals at a depth of 20,000 ft (6,100 m).[67]
On 25 November 2010, French Secretary of State for Transport Thierry Mariani announced
that a fourth search for the black boxes would commence by February 2011.[68]

Colour bathymetry relief map of the part of Atlantic Ocean into which Air France Flight 447
crashed. Image shows two different data sets with different resolution.[Note 2]

[edit] Search results

On 4 June, the Brazilian Air Force claimed they had recovered the first debris from the Air
France crash site, 340 miles (550 km) northeast of the Fernando de Noronha archipelago,[69]
but on 5 June, around 13:00 UTC, Brazilian officials announced that they had not yet
recovered anything from Flight 447, as the oil slick and debris field found on 2 June could not
have come from the plane.[70] Ramon Borges Cardoso, director of the Air Space Control
Department, said that the fuel slicks were not caused by aviation fuel but were believed to
have been from a passing ship.[71] Even so, a Brazilian Air Force official maintained that some
of the material that had been spotted (but not picked up) was in fact from Flight 447. Poor
visibility had prevented search teams from re-locating the material.[72]

Wikinews has related news: Black boxes from Air France Flight 447 localized

On 6 June, five days after Flight 447 disappeared, it was reported that the Brazilian Air Force
had located "bodies and debris" from the missing aircraft, after they had been spotted by a
special search radar-equipped aircraft near the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago.[73] The
bodies and objects were reportedly found at 08:14 Brasilia time (11:14 UTC), and experts on
human remains were sent to investigate. Brazilian Air Force Colonel Jorge Amaral stated that
"We confirm the recovery from the water of debris and bodies from the Air France plane. Air
France boarding passes for Flight 447 were also found. We can't give more information
without confirming what we have."[74] Two male bodies were later found along with a seat, a
nylon backpack containing a computer and vaccination card and a leather briefcase containing
a boarding pass for the Air France flight.[75][76][77]

Authorities also corrected the misunderstanding about earlier debris findings: except for the
wooden pallet, the debris did come from Flight 447, but rescue aircraft and ships had made
the search for possible survivors and bodies a priority, delaying the verification of the origins
of the other recovered debris.[78]

The Airbus' vertical stabilizer recovered

On 8 June search crews found and eventually recovered the Airbus' vertical stabilizer.[79]

As of 17 June 2009 a total of 50 bodies had been recovered in two distinct groups more than
50 miles (80 km) apart.[80][81] Of the 50, 49 of these had been transported to shore,[81][82] first by
the frigates Constituição and Bosísio to the islands of Fernando de Noronha and thereafter by
plane to Recife for identification.[82][83][84][85] Another body was recovered on 16 June 2009.[81]
On 17 June 2009 it was also reported that more than 400 pieces of debris from the plane had
been recovered.[86] As of 23 June 2009 officials had identified 11 of the 50 bodies recovered
from the crash site off the coast of Brazil, by using dental records and fingerprints. Of those
identified ten were Brazilian, although no names had been released.[87] On 25 June, Le Figaro
reported that the bodies of the pilot, Marc Dubois, and a flight attendant had been retrieved
and identified.[88] On 26 June the Brazilian Military announced it had ended the search for
bodies and debris, having recovered 51 bodies with the help of French vessels and French,
Spanish and US aircraft.

Following the end of the search for bodies, the search for the flight data recorder and the
cockpit voice recorder, the "black boxes", continued with the French nuclear submarine and
with two French-contracted ships (towing the US Navy listening devices) trawling a search
area with a radius of 80 kilometres (50 mi).[89] By mid July, recovery of the black boxes had
still not been announced. French search teams denied an earlier report that a "very weak"
signal had been picked up from the black box locator beacon.[90] The finite beacon battery life
meant that, as the time since the crash elapsed, the likelihood of location diminished. In late
July, the search for the black boxes entered its second phase, with a French research vessel
resuming the search using a towed sonar array.[91] In July 2009, Airbus announced that they
would fund an extended search for the aircraft's black boxes. This announcement came amidst
their official backing to determine the root cause of the accident.[92] The second phase of the
search ended on 20 August without finding wreckage within a 75 km radius of the last
position, as reported at 02:10.[93]

On 6 May 2010, the French Minister of Defense reported[94] that the cockpit voice recorders
had been localized to a zone 5 km by 5 km, following analysis of the data recorded by the
French submarine during the initial search conducted in mid-2009. On 12 May 2010, it was
reported[95] that the search following the 6 May report of the possible location of the voice
recorders had not led to any findings and that the search had resumed in a different area from
the one identified by the French submarine. The third phase of the search ended on 24 May
2010 without any success though the French Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses (BEA) says that
the search 'nearly' covered the whole area drawn up by investigators.

In November 2010, French officials announced that a fourth search would start in February
2011, using the most sophisticated technology currently available.[96]

[edit] Investigation

East-west cross-section of Atlantic Ocean portion in which Air France Flight 447 crashed,
showing depth of the sea floor. The vertical scale is exaggerated by a factor of 100 relative to
the horizontal.

Investigators have not yet determined a cause of the accident, but the pitot probes, which
measure airspeed, are suspected[who?] to have contributed to it.

The French government has opened two investigations:

• A criminal investigation for manslaughter was begun (this is standard procedure for
any accident involving a loss of life and implies no presumption of foul play), which
since 5 June 2009 is under the supervision of Investigating Magistrate Sylvie
Zimmerman from the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance.[97] The judge gave the
investigation to the Gendarmerie nationale, which operates it through its aerial
transportation division (Gendarmerie des transports aériens or GTA) and its forensic
research institute (IRCGN, FR).[98]
• In June 2009, the DGSE (the external French intelligence agency) uncovered the
names of two registered passengers on board corresponded to the names of two
individuals thought to be linked to Islamic terrorist groups.[99]
• A technical investigation, the goal of which is to enhance the safety of future flights.
As the aircraft was of French registration and crashed over international waters, this is
the responsibility of the French government, under the ICAO convention. The Bureau
d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile (BEA) is in charge of
the investigation.[100] The BEA released a press release on 5 June, that stated: [101]

A large quantity of more or less accurate information and attempts at explanations concerning
the accident are currently being circulated. The BEA reminds those concerned that in such
circumstances, it is advisable to avoid all hasty interpretations and speculation on the basis of
partial or non-validated information. At this stage of the investigation, the only established
facts are:

• the presence near the airplane’s planned route over the Atlantic of
significant convective cells typical of the equatorial regions;
• based on the analysis of the automatic messages broadcast by the plane,
there are inconsistencies between the various speeds measured.


The main task currently occupying the investigators is recovering parts of the aircraft,
primarily the flight recorders. BEA chief Paul-Louis Arslanian said that he is not optimistic
about finding them since they may be under as much as 3,000 m (9,800 ft) of water and the
terrain under this portion of the ocean is very rugged.[102] Investigators are hoping to find the
aircraft's lower aft section, since that is where the recorders are located.[103] Although France
has never recovered a flight recorder from similar depths,[102] there is precedent for such an
operation: in 1988, an independent contractor was able to recover the cockpit voice recorder
of South African Airways Flight 295 from a depth of 4,900 m (16,100 ft) in a search area of
between 80 and 250 square nautical miles (270 and 860 km2).[104][105] The Air France flight
recorders have water-activated acoustic underwater locator beacons or "pingers", which
should have remained active for at least 30 days, giving searchers that much time to locate the
origin of the signals.[106]

On 2 July 2009, the BEA released an intermediate report, which described all known facts,
and a summary of the visual examination of the rudder and the other parts of the aircraft that
had been recovered at that time.[7] According to the BEA, this examination showed that:

• the aircraft was likely to have struck the surface of the sea in a normal flight attitude,
with a high rate of descent;[Note 3][7][107]
• there were no signs of fire or explosion;
• the aircraft did not break up in flight. The report also stresses that the BEA had not
had access to the post-mortem reports at the time of its production, some of which
suggest differently.[7][108]

On 13 December 2009 the BEA announced that a further three month search for the recorders
would be conducted using "robot submarines" beginning in February 2010.[109]

The BEA announced that they expected the search to resume in mid-March, depending on
weather. The third phase of the search was planned to take 4 weeks, Air France, Airbus, the
United States Navy, and the National Transportation safety board will aid in the search.[110]
The new search plan covers an area of 770 square miles (2,000 km2) and will utilize four
sonar devices and two underwater robots.[111] Oceanographers from France, Russia, Britain,
and the United States each separately analysed the search area, to select a smaller area for
closer survey.[112][113]

The search continued in the beginning of April 2010 and was planned to last for 30 days.[114]

The French newspaper Le Figaro suggested that the plane was heading back to Brazil when it
crashed in the Atlantic Ocean.[117]
[edit] Airspeed inconsistency

Prior to the disappearance of the aircraft, the automatic reporting system, ACARS, sent
messages indicating disagreement in the indicated air speed (IAS) readings. A spokesperson
for Airbus claimed that "the air speed of the aircraft was unclear" to the pilots.[65] Paul-Louis
Arslanian, of France's air accident investigation agency, confirmed that F-GZCP previously
had problems calculating its speed as did other A330 aircraft stating "We have seen a certain
number of these types of faults on the A330 ... There is a programme of replacement, of
improvement".[118] The problems primarily occurred on the Airbus A320, but, awaiting a
recommendation from Airbus, Air France delayed installing new pitots on A330/A340, yet
increased inspection frequencies.[119]

There have been several cases where inaccurate airspeed information led to flight incidents on
the A330 and A340. Two of those incidents involved pitot probes.[120][Note 4] In the first
incident, an Air France A340-300 (F-GLZL), en route from Tokyo, Japan, to Paris, France,
experienced an event at 31,000 feet (9,400 m) in which the airspeed was incorrectly reported
and the autopilot automatically disengaged. Bad weather together with obstructed drainage
holes in all three pitot probes were subsequently found to be the cause.[121] In the second
incident, an Air France A340-300 (F-GLZN) en route from Paris to New York encountered
turbulence followed by the autoflight systems going offline, warnings over the accuracy of the
reported airspeed and two minutes of stall alerts.[121] Another incident on TAM Flight 8091
from Miami to Rio de Janeiro on 21 May 2009, involving an A330-200, showed a sudden
drop of outside air temperature, then loss of air data, the ADIRS, autopilot and autothrust.[122]
The TAM flight fell 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) before being manually recovered using backup
instruments. The NTSB is also examining a similar 23 June 2009 incident on a Northwest
Airlines flight from Hong Kong to Tokyo.[122]

On 6 June 2009, Arslanian said that Air France had not replaced pitot probes as Airbus
recommended on F-GZCP, saying that "it does not mean that without replacing the probes
that the A330 was dangerous."[119] Air France issued a further clarification of the situation:

"1) Malfunctions in the pitot probes on the A320 led the manufacturer to issue a
recommendation in September 2007 to change the probes. This recommendation also
applies to long-haul aircraft using the same probes and on which a very few incidents
of a similar nature had occurred."

Since it was not an airworthiness directive (AD), the guidelines allow the operator to apply
the recommendations at its discretion. Air France implemented the change on its A320 fleet
where the incidents of water ingress were observed.

"2) Starting in May 2008 Air France experienced incidents involving a loss of airspeed
data in flight (see two incidents above) in cruise phase on A340s and A330s. These
incidents were analysed with Airbus as resulting from pitot probe icing for a few
minutes, after which the phenomenon disappeared."

After discussing these issues with the manufacturer, Air France sought a means of reducing
these incidents, and Airbus indicated that the new pitot probe designed for the A320 was not
designed to prevent cruise level ice-over. In 2009, tests suggested that the new probe could
improve its reliability, prompting Air France to initiate and accelerate the replacement
program,[123] but not before F-GZCP underwent its major overhaul on 16 April.[124] On 4 June,
Airbus issued an Accident Information Telex to operators of all Airbus models reminding
pilots of the recommended Abnormal and Emergency Procedures to be taken in the case of
unreliable airspeed indication.[125] By 17 June 2009, Air France had replaced all pitot probes
on its A330 type aircraft.[86]

French Transport Minister, Dominique Bussreau, said "Obviously the pilots [of Flight 447]
did not have the right [the correct] speed showing, which can lead to two bad consequences
for the life of the aircraft: under-speed, which can lead to a stall, and over-speed, which can
lead to the aircraft breaking up because it is approaching the speed of sound and the structure
of the plane is not made for resisting such speeds".[126] On 11 June 2009, a spokesman from
the BEA reminded that there was no conclusive evidence at the moment linking pitot probe
malfunction to the AF447 crash, and this was reiterated on 17 June 2009 by the BEA chief,
Paul-Louis Arslanian.[86][127][128][129]

The Flight 447 accident may have some relevant similarities to other A330 incidents with
other carriers.[130][131][132][133] Three similar reports are on file at the Australian Transport Safety
Bureau (ATSB), with two incidents relating to Airbus A330s with flight computer problems,
plus one which involved a Boeing 777.[Note 5][134] In the October 2008 accident, this fault caused
injuries to passengers and damage to the aircraft on Qantas Flight 72, en route from Singapore
to Perth, Western Australia, which was forced into a dive by a malfunctioning ADIRU. These
incidents often started with the autopilot disengaging and sending ADIRU failure messages.
Incorrect speed indications were also observed.[134] The airframe and ADIRU involved in the
Qantas Flight 72 accident were also previously involved in another incident on Qantas Flight
68, 2006.[121] The Qantas aircraft were equipped with ADIRUs manufactured by Northrop
Grumman, while Flight 447 was equipped with an ADIRU manufactured by Honeywell.[131] A
memo leaked from Airbus suggests that there was no evidence that the Flight 447 ADIRU
malfunction was similar to the failure in the Qantas incidents.[135]

Example of a heated pitot probe

In July 2009, Airbus once again advised A330 and A340 operators to change the old Thales
pitot probes to newer Goodrich ones.[136][137] A directive from the European Aviation Safety
Agency is expected to require the replacement and would require Air France to replace at
least two of the recently installed Thales pitot probes on its A330 and A340 aircraft.[137]

On 3 September 2009, the American FAA issued a final Airworthiness Directive, which
requires the pitot probes manufactured by Thales Avionics, which were installed on the A330
and A340 aircraft, to be replaced with probes manufactured by Goodrich. According to the
FAA, in its Federal Register publication, use of the Thales model has resulted in "reports of
airspeed indication discrepancies while flying at high altitudes in inclement weather
conditions", that "could result in reduced control of the airplane." The FAA further stated that
the Thales model probe "has not yet demonstrated the same level of robustness to withstand
high-altitude ice crystals as Goodrich pitot probes P/N 0851HL," which is the required
replacement probe, ordered by the Airworthiness Directive. [138]

On 21 December 2010, Airbus issued a warning to roughly 100 operators of A330, A340-200
and A340-300 aircraft, regarding pitot tubes, advising pilots not to re-engage the autopilot
following failure of the airspeed indicators.[139]

[edit] Passengers and crew

Nationality Passengers Crew Total
Argentina 1 0 1
Austria 1 0 1
Belgium 1 0 1
Brazil 58 1 59
Canada 1 0 1
Croatia 1 0 1
Denmark 1 0 1
Estonia 1 0 1
France 61 11 72
Gabon 1 0 1
Germany 26 0 26
Hungary 4 0 4
Iceland 1 0 1
Ireland 3 0 3
Italy 9 0 9
Lebanon 3 0 3
Morocco 3 0 3
Netherlands[140][141] 1 0 1
Norway[142] 3 0 3
People's Republic of China 9 0 9
Philippines 1 0 1
Poland 2 0 2
Romania 1 0 1
Russia 1 0 1
Slovakia 3 0 3
South Africa 1 0 1
South Korea 1 0 1
Spain[143] 2 0 2
Sweden 1 0 1
Switzerland 6 0 6
Turkey[144] 1 0 1
United Kingdom 5 0 5
United States 2 0 2
Total (33 nationalities) 216 12 228
The aircraft was carrying 216 passengers and 12 aircrew in two cabins of service.[145][146]
Among the 216 passengers were one infant, seven children, 82 women, and 126 men.[42] There
were three pilots: 58-year-old flight captain Marc Dubois had joined Air France in 1988 and
had approximately 11,000 flight hours, including 1,700 hours on the Airbus A330; the two
first officers, 37-year-old David Robert and 32-year-old Pierre-Cedric Bonin, had over 9,000
flight hours between them. Of the 12 crew members, 11 were French and one Brazilian.[147]

According to an official list released by Air France on 1 June 2009:[148] the majority of
passengers were French, Brazilian, or German citizens.[149][150] Attributing nationality was
complicated by the holding of multiple citizenship by several passengers. The nationalities as
released by Air France are shown in the table to the right.

Air France gathered around 60-70 relatives and friends arriving to pick up passengers at
Charles de Gaulle Airport. Many of the passengers on Flight 447 were connecting to other
destinations worldwide, so many parties anticipating the arrival of passengers were at other

On 20 June, Air France announced that each victim's family would be paid roughly €17,500
in initial compensation.[152] Wrongful death lawsuits maintaining that design and
manufacturing defects stranded pilots with incorrect information, rendering them incapable of
maintaining altitude and air speed have been filed in U.S. Court.[153]

[edit] Notable passengers

• Prince Pedro Luís of Orléans-Bragança, third in succession to the now extinguished

throne of Brazil.[154][155] He had dual Brazilian-Belgian citizenship. He was returning
home to Luxembourg from a visit to his relatives in Rio de Janeiro.[156][157]
• Juliana de Aquino, Brazilian singer and actress, was en route to Stuttgart, Germany, to
continue working in the musical Wicked after visiting her family in Brazil.
• Luis Roberto Anastacio, president of Michelin for Latin America.[158]
• Silvio Barbato, composer and former conductor of the symphony orchestras of the
Brasilia National Theatre and the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Theatre; he was en route to
Kiev for engagements there.[159][160]
• Fatma Ceren Necipoğlu, Turkish classical harpist and academic of Anadolu University
in Eskişehir; she was returning home via Paris after having given concerts at the fourth
Rio Harp Festival.[161]
• Pablo Dreyfus from Argentina, a campaigner for controlling illegal arms and the
illegal drugs trade.[162]
• Izabela Maria Furtado Kestler, professor of German studies at the Federal University
of Rio de Janeiro.
• Octavio Augusto Ceva Antunes, chair professor of chemistry at the Federal University
of Rio de Janeiro.
• Eithne Walls, Irish eye doctor and a former member of the famed Riverdance

[edit] Flight number

Shortly after the crash, Air France changed the number of the regular Rio de Janeiro-Paris
flight from AF447 to AF445.[163]
On 30 November 2009, Air France Flight 445 (F-GZCK) made a mayday call due to severe
turbulence around the same area and time flight 447 crashed. Because the pilots could not
obtain immediate permission from air traffic controllers to descend to a less turbulent altitude,
the mayday was to alert other aircraft in the vicinity that the flight had deviated from its
normal flight level. This is standard contingency procedure when changing altitude without
direct authorization. After 30 minutes of moderate to severe turbulence the flight continued
normally. The plane landed safely in Paris 6 hours and 40 minutes after the mayday call.[164]

[edit] Media
• On 30 May 2010, BBC Two in the United Kingdom broadcast the documentary "Lost:
The Mystery of Flight 447",[166] a one hour documentary detailing an independent
investigation into the crash employing the skills of an expert pilot, an expert accident
investigator, an aviation meteorologist and an aircraft structural engineer. Using the
available evidence and information, without the black boxes, a critical chain of events
was postulated:
o flying into an immense thunderstorm which had been hidden on the aircraft
weather radar by a smaller nearer storm.
o reducing aircraft speed to anticipate impending turbulence.
o configuring the aircraft to avoid a stall by trimming aircraft pitch with the
elevators, but not noticing that the autothrust system reduced aircraft speed
(without corresponding thrust lever movement).
o simultaneous failure of all three pitot tubes due to supercooled water very
rapidly forming ice.
o aircrew being unable to interpret a large number of flight deck failure alerts
caused by the loss of air data.
o suffering a catastrophic loss of altitude due to a stall.
o falling uncontrollably to the sea and breaking up on impact.

• On 1 June 2010, exactly one year after the crash of Air France Flight 447, it was
announced that, in the United States, there would be a Nova TV series
science/documentary episode about the accident. The documentary is currently in
preparation and the makers say that it will be broadcast on February 16, 2011.[167][168]

[edit] See also

France portal
Brazil portal

Aviation portal

• List of unrecovered flight recorders

• Birgenair Flight 301, a flight that in 1996 suffered a malfunction in the airspeed
indicators and crashed
• Pan Am Flight 7, a flight that in 1937 disappeared and crashed
• South African Airways Flight 295, the flight which had its flight data recorder
recovered from the sea in the highest depth
• Aeroperú Flight 603, a flight which crashed after the crew experienced failure in their
basic flight instruments

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