Air France Flight 447: Airbus A330-200 from Rio de Janeiro Missing Over Atlantic Ocean

by OldSailor on June 1, 2009


AirFrance Air France (AF) Flight 447, that took off from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Paris-Charles de Gaulle, France with 228 people (216 passengers and 12 crew members) on board lost contact and disappeared on June 01. Brazil Air Force has launched a massive search operation to locate the missing aircraft.

Some of the developments available through news reports are:

  • May 31, Sunday, 2200 GMT: AF 447, Airbus A330-200 took off from Rio de Janeiro’s Galeao International Airport, heading for Paris Charles de Gaulle.
  • June 01, MondayAirFrance_Flight447_31May 2009
    • 0133 GMT: Last radar contact.
    • 0200 GMT: The aircraft hit a zone of stormy weather with strong turbulence.
    • 0214 GMT: An automated message was received from the aircraft about electrical circuit malfunction.
    • 0910 GMT: The aircraft failed to land at the scheduled time at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport.
  • Efforts by the Brazilian, African, Spanish and French air traffic control centres to make contact with flight AF 447 were not successful. Even the French military air traffic control centre tried to detect the aircraft but did not succeed.
  • Search operation by Brazil Air Force is going on near the Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha.
  • Passengers 216: 126 men, 82 women, 7 children and one infant.
  • Crew members 12: 3 pilots and 9 flight attendants.
  • Air France has sent all the information in its possession on the disappearance of flight AF 447 operating the Rio de Janeiro – Paris-Charles de Gaulle route to the French Accident Investigation Bureau for civil aviation (BEA), the French organization in charge of technical investigations into civil aviation incidents and accidents, and to the aircraft manufacturer Airbus.
  • The aircraft had total 18,870 flight hours and went into service on April 18, 2005.
  • A330-200 has an overall length of 59 metres with a range of up to 6,750 nm./12,500 km.
  • It is feared that the aircraft has crashed into Atlantic Ocean.

Here is press release from Air France:

Paris, 01 June 2009 – 20:13 local time

Press release N° 5

Air France is now able to confirm the nationalities of the passengers who were on board flight AF 447 on 31 May 2009, which disappeared between Rio de Janeiro and Paris-Charles de Gaulle. This list is based on the information provided by the Brazilian Authorities.

  • 2 American
  • 1 Argentinian
  • 1 Austrian
  • 1 Belgian
  • 58 Brazilian
  • 5 British
  • 1 Canadian
  • 9 Chinese
  • 1 Croatian
  • 1 Danish
  • 1 Dutch
  • 1 Estonian
  • 1 Filipinoaircraft
  • 61 French
  • 1 Gambian
  • 26 German
  • 4 Hungarian
  • 3 Irish
  • 1 Icelandic
  • 9 Italian
  • 5 Lebanese
  • 2 Moroccan
  • 3 Norwegians
  • 2 Polish
  • 1 Romanian
  • 1 Russian
  • 3 Slovakian
  • 1 South African
  • 2 Spanish
  • 1 Swedish
  • 6 Swiss
  • 1 Turkish

Air France expresses its deepest sympathy to the relatives and friends of the passengers and crew who were on board this flight.

Air France is doing its utmost to provide support to relatives and friends: counselling with physicians and psychologists as well as specially trained Air France volunteers has been set up at the airports of Paris-Charles de Gaulle 2 and Rio de Janeiro.

Air France has also established a special toll-free number for the attention of relatives and friends of passengers who may have been on board. They can use this number to obtain information on whether or not a member of their family or friends was on board.

Phone number reserved for relatives and friends

0800 800 812 in France,

0800 881 20 20 in Brazil,

and + 33 1 57 02 10 55 for calls from all other countries.

Air France will release further information as soon as it is available.

NB: We ask journalists not to call this number, which is reserved for relatives and close friends.

View a video clip: Air France jet missing over Atlantic – 01 Jun 09

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Update: June 02

Brazilian military planes have sighted metal debris, including plane seats 400 miles (650 kilometres) off the Brazilian coast. The wreckage could be of AF 447, Airbus A330-200. Read more from France 24.

Here are the Flight Crew details from Air France press release No 7 dated June 02.

  • Flight deck crew
    • Flight Captain: French;58 years old;Entered Air France in 1988;Qualified on Airbus A330/A340 in February 2007;11,000 flight hours, including 1,700 on Airbus A330/A340
    • 2 co-pilots: French;37 and 32 years old;Entered Air France in 1999 and 2004;Qualified on Airbus A330/A340 in April 2002 and June 2008;6,600 flight hours, including 2,600 on Airbus A330/A340;3,000 flight hours, including 800 on Airbus A330/A340
  • Cabin crew
    • Chief purser: French;49 years old;Entered Air France in 1985
    • 2 pursers: French;54 and 46 years old;Entered Air France in 1981 and 1989
    • 6 stewards and stewardesses:5 French and 1 Brazilian;Between 24 and 44 years old;Entered Air France in 1996 and 2007

Homage to victims in Paris: An inter-religious ceremony for the relatives and friends of the victims will be held on Wednesday, June 03, at 4pm at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. The press will not be able to attend the inter-religious ceremony. There will be a audio broadcast of the ceremony on the square outside the cathedral.

Update: June 03

Brazil has confirmed that debris spotted in the Atlantic belonged to the Air France jet. Brazilian ships and three cargo ships have rushed to the debris spotted area to participate in recovery operations. Further, France also has sent a ship carrying two mini-submarines capable of operating at depths of 6,000 metres to commence salvage operations. Read more from France 24.

A U.S. Navy P-3C Orion aircraft has also joined the search operations. Read more from the U.S.Navy.

Update: June 04

Some developments on AF 447, Airbus A330-200 are:

  • mid air explosion ruled out, as a 20 kilometre long fuel slick was sighted in the area of crash.
  • no bodies have were spotted but search vessels located more debris including a seven-meter piece of the plane.
  • it seems that the aircraft crashed as
    • autopilot disengaged
    • onboard computer switched to an alternate power system due to electrical faults
    • experienced loss of air pressure
    • experienced electrical failure

Read more from France 24.

View photographs of search operations from RIA Novosti.

Update: June 06

There is confusion regarding the debris located including the oil slick. It is reported that debris located were not from the flight but simply sea trash, probably from a ship. Read more from France 24.

Now France has sent a nuclear-powered submarine with advanced sonar equipment to look for the black box and sunken debris. Read more from France 24.

Update: June 07

The crash of Air France Flight 447, in the Atlantic Ocean is now confirmed. Brazil Navy ships have found the bodies of two men and debris including a blue seat with a serial number matching Air France Flight 447, a rucksack containing a vaccination card, and a briefcase with an Air France ticket inside.

French nuclear-powered submarine is yet to reach the area to locate the two flight recorders, which could be at a depth of anywhere between 2,835 and 13,120 feet. Read more from France 24.

View a video clip: Bodies recovered from AF 447 flight 06 Jun 09

Update: June 08

15 (later revised as 14) more bodies were recovered from the sea, 600 miles off Brazil’s northeastern coast on June 07. Two French submarines, including one that explored the wreck of the Titanic and another, nuclear powered warship, are also on their way to hunt for the Flight Recorder, the Black Box. Read more from France 24.

Update: June 09

As on June 08, Brazil Navy has recovered 24 bodies and also a section of the tail fin of the Air France 447 jet that disappeared into the Atlantic Ocean. Read more from France 24.

View a video clip from CCTV: More bodies from Air France jet found – 08 Jun 09

View Time Photo Essay: The Search for Flight 447.

Update: June 11

Here are the sequence of tragic events and the possible causes of the crash now under examination. View a 11 minutes video clip from France 24: AF 447- a week since the crash.

Update: June 12

Brazil is planning to suspend the search for victims of Air France flight 447 by next weekend. Search for Black Box will continue till monthend.

View a video clip from Associated Press: Air France 447 Victim Search to End Next Week

Update: June 14

French Navy ship Mistral, recovered six more bodies from the sea on June 12. The total number of bodies recovered is 50 sofar. Read more from France 24.

Update: June 21

Air France has announced that it will pay about 17,500 euros (about 24,000 U.S. dollars) as an initial compensation to the families of the victims of the Flight 447 air crash. Read more from Xinhua News.

Update: June 25

The pilot of the Air France Flight 447 and one of the stewards have been identified among the dead bodies pulled out of the Atlantic Ocean. Read more from France 24.

Update: June 28

The search operations by Brazil’s Air Force and Navy were called off on June 26 for additional victims and wreckage from Air France Flight 447. Read more from France 24.

Update: July 02

The black box is not yet located. The French accident investigating agency BEA in their report, have revealed that the aircraft did not break up in mid-air. The aircraft appears to have hit the sea surface with belly first in flying position with a strong vertical acceleration. Read more from France 24.

View a video clip from BBC World News: Air France jet ‘broke on impact’

Update: July 18

Post-mortem reports indicate that Air France Flight 447 crash victims did not die due to drowning. Read more from France 24.

Update: July 25

In the coming months, experts will be analysing over 650 pieces of aircraft debris to find out the cause of accident. Read more from France 24.

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