Evidence, But Not MuchThat was May 31, 2009. By June 10, we knew that an airliner and 228 people had disappeared, and that:
- Two names that were on a terrorist watch list appeared on Air France Flight 447's passenger list
- The Airbus A330-200 had an older set of Pitot tubes
- Air speed sensors
- Pilots in the area saw an "intense flash" when the airliner disappeared
- A fuel slick found wasn't jet fuel
(June 10, 2009)
I could make that bright flash seem like an explosion, but there was a thunderstorm in the area: and lightning is notoriously bright.
Passengers with names that appeared on a terrorist watch list were suggestive, but far from proof. The names may not have been as common as "Jim Johnson" was in northern Minnesota: but different people often have the same name.
The Pitot tubes, which were going to be replaced, hinted at technical problems: but a 'hint' isn't proof.
Almost two years later, AF 447's flight recorder was found. (April 28, 2011
Training Pilots: Yes, It's ImportantApparently AF447's pilots hadn't been trained for high-altitude flight, or what to do when airspeed sensors don't work right. (BBC News, July 29, 2011) Putting them on a high-altitude flight in an airliner with slightly obsolete airspeed sensors may not have been a prudent decision. Air France says that the pilots were so trained.
Airbus and Air France may face manslaughter charges over the little oopsies in AF 447.
A BBC News article included a timeline of the last few minutes of Air France 447:
"...0135 GMT: The crew informs the controller of the flight's locationI think there are a few things to learn from AF 447, including:
"0159-0206 GMT: The co-pilot warns of turbulence ahead before the captain leaves the cockpit for a rest break
"0208 GMT: The plane turns left, diverting from the planned route. Turbulence increases
"0210 GMT: The auto-pilot and auto-thrust mechanisms disengage. The plane rolls to the right. The co-pilot attempts to raise the nose. The stall warning sounds twice and the plane's speed drops. The co-pilot calls the captain
"0210 GMT: The stall warning sounds again. The plane climbs to 38,000ft
"0211-0213 GMT: The captain re-enters the cockpit. The plane is flying at 35,000 ft but is descending 10,000 ft per minute. The co-pilot says 'I don't have any more indications', pulls the nose down and the stall warning sounds again...
"...02:14 GMT: Recordings stop"
- 'Accidents happen'
- It's a good idea to train pilots
- Faulty equipment isn't reliable
- Deferring judgment until there's enough evidence is sensible
- "Air France 447: Part of a Black (Orange, Really) Box Found"
(April 28, 2011)
- "Air France Flight 447 Wreckage Found: My Take"
(April 4, 2011)
- "euronews, " 'Dustbin' Airline," Cultures, and the War on Terror"
(July 2, 2009)
- "Air France Flight 447 Investigators Find Terror List Names: Suggestive, But Far From Proof"
(June 10, 2009)
- "Northwest Flight 253: Near Miss on Christmas Weekend"
(December 27, 2009)
- Air France crash 'due to pilot and technical failings'
BBC News (July 5, 2012)
- "Air France Rio crash: Pilots 'lacked training' "
(July 29, 2011)