The mystery of Flight 447

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Haunting is a good word for the first images from the sea floor where wreckage of the Air France jetliner that crashed nearly two years ago while on a flight from Brazil to Paris. The report from France today that bodies were also found “inside the fuselage” also raises some perfectly awful questions.

Up to now, it’s been assumed the airplane broke apart in flight, from a high altitude. Theoretically, it seems, there shouldn’t be an “inside the fuselage.” The New Zealand Herald says it now appears the plane hit the ocean “intact.”

Nobody — and for good reason — seemed to want to ask the obvious question at today’s news conference.

  • davidz

    I remember from the original stories after the fuselage and tail parts were found floating on the surface that the working assumption was that the plane hit effectively belly first, hadn’t deployed the oxygen masked, and thus probably didn’t break up in flight.

    None of this would be official until more wreckage, and ideally the flight recorders, could be found.

    That has been repeated in several of the stories that I’ve read today. Not sure I’ve ever heard “broke apart in flight”, and while not a pilot I do follow aviation news fairly closely.

  • Bob Collins

    The “broke apart” aspect came from the assumption that it hit a supercell — or even two — and the stresses on the airplane led it to crash,.

    Air France originally told families that that is what happened.

    A subsequent investigation revealed data from the plane revealed a problem with speed sensors, though that would not have caused the plane to crash.

    If there WERE an overspeed condition, one might imagine, again, substantially smaller debris.

    It seems possible that the descent was, in fact, a controlled descent and , quite possibly, an attempt at an emergency landing.

  • mikeb

    But I believe after the initial investigation of the floating debris that it was postulated that the plane hit the water belly first but at a high rate of descent causing some pieces of the plane to pancake. Again, all educated guess work until more conclusive findings.