Terrorism a possible cause for AF447 death plunge

June 2nd, 2009 - 10:04 pm ICT by John Le Fevre  

Air France AF447 French Defense Minister Herve Morin has said an act of terrorism cannot be ruled out in the disappearance and presumed crash of Air France flight AF447.

Morin told Europe 1 radio, “we can’t rule out a terrorist act since terrorism is the main threat to Western democracies, but at this time we don’t have any element whatsoever indicating that such an act could have caused this accident.”

Air France flight AF447 departed Brazil’s Airport do Galeao in Rio de Janeiro at 2230 GMT for an 11-hour flight to Paris Sunday and was last heard from flying at an altitude of 10,600 meters (35,000 feet) at 0133 GMT Monday.

The relatively new Airbus A300-200 jetliner was carrying 126 men, 82 women, seven children and a baby – plus a highly experienced 12-person crew.

Air France have reported receiving one dozen automatically transmitted technical messages warning of multiple electric and pressurization failure over four minutes after it hit a storm mid-flight, however, no manual or automatic mayday message was received.

The Airbus A300-200 series aircraft operating Air France flight AF447, registration number F-GZCP, had only entered service in April 2005 and had undergone a routine in-hanger maintenance inspection on April 16 this year.

AIr France has said it is possible lightning may have struck the aircraft, but industry analysts say the likelihood of lightning causing a modern and technologically advanced aircraft such as the A300-200 to plunge from the sky is unlikely.

Former Airbus pilot John Wiley told CNN that speculation lightning had brought down the plane was likely to prove unfounded since modern passenger aircraft were capable of withstanding direct strikes.

Analyst Kieran Daly of online aviation news service Air Transport Intelligence said the lack of communication with the aircraft, “does suggest it was something serious and catastrophic.”

Debris believed to be from the stricken aircraft has been sighted by Brazilian military aircraft 650 km (400 miles) north of the islands of Fernando de Noronha off Brazil’s northern coast.

French and Brazilian naval vessels are converging on the area but there is little hope of finding survivors. The focus is now on locating and recovering the aircrafts so-called “black-box” flight data recorders.

The Brazilian and French air forces have both reported receiving no signal from flight AF447s emergency locating beacon, causing further speculation a sudden and massive catastrophic event occurred mid-flight.

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