Air France AF-447 crash mystery

June 2nd, 2009 - 12:48 am ICT by John Le Fevre  

Air France AF447 The presumed crash of Air France flight AF447 with 216 passengers and a crew of 12, continues to pose a mystery to aviation writers and analysts world-wide.

Stunned analysts say it would take extremely violent weather to bring down such a large jet, especially one as reliable and modern as the Airbus A330-200 in question.

By industry standards Air France has a relatively young fleet and the aircraft operating flight AF447, registration number F-GZCP, had only entered service in April 2005 and had passed a routine in-hanger inspection in mid-April.

Former Airbus pilot John Wiley told CNN that speculation lightning had brought down the plane was likely to prove unfounded since most 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.

“The A330 is state-of-the-art, with extremely reliable engines made by General Electric.”

CNN air travel expert Richard Quest says the twin-engine plane, a stalwart of long-haul routes, has an impeccable safety record, with only one fatal incident involving a training flight in 1994.

“It has very good range, and is extremely popular with airlines because of its versatility,” he said.

Brazil and France have scrambled search and rescue aircraft on both sides of the Atlantic, but with a vast area to scour, there is dwindling hope of finding survivors.

The Brazilian Air Force said the flight AF447 was last logged flying at an altitude of 10,600 meters (35,000 feet) before contact was lost.

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