Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Brazil: Debris confirms Air France Flight 447 crash in the Atlantic

Air FranceA short time ago, Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim announced that debris discovered in the Atlantic Ocean is from Air France Flight 447, the Airbus A330-200 that vanished while en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris earlier this week. According to Bloomberg News the debris, which consisted of wire and metal pieces, was found over a 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) stretch of ocean.

The brief Bloomberg article about the debris discovery quotes Jobim, who told reporters, “A Hercules plane spotted a debris line stretching 5 kilometers, which confirms the plane crashed in that area.”

Earlier in the day there were several media reports of debris sightings by search aircraft, although officials were cautious not to confirm prematurely that the items were from the missing Air France A330. Those earlier reports, from several sources, described airline seats and orange life vests among the items sighted on the ocean surface, thus Mr. Jobim's eventual announcement came as no surprise.

Now that the debris has been identified as that of the lost Air France Airbus, efforts will focus on locating and possibly retrieving the so-called 'black boxes', i.e., the Flight Data Recorder and the Cockpit Voice Recorder. Worth reading: Reuters has published an interesting article about the challenges of retrieving the devices from the deep ocean. Clearly, the search and recovery effort will continue for quite awhile.

There were 248 people on board Air France Flight 447: three pilots, nine cabin crew, and 216 passengers. All are presumed to have perished in the accident. Thus far, no human remains have been found.

It is not yet known whether the aircraft broke up while aloft, or whether it crashed into the ocean, nor is it known what caused the accident. I will continue to post updates about this tragedy as more information becomes available.

RELATED: Click here to view all posts about Air France Flt 447 on Aircrew Buzz.