Much has happened in the past 24 hours. Yesterday, news came out that the Brazilian Air Force had located debris that was likely from Air France Flight AF 447. The military planes spotted an airplane seat, a fuel slick and a pieces of white debris scattered over a 3 mile range in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. The debris was first spotted early Tuesday morning, and it was 35 miles apart. Defense Minister Nelson Jobim confirmed that the debris was that of Flight 447.
Efforts are being made to quickly locate and recover the flight’s black box, which will have further data regarding the plane’s final moments. The black box will continue to emit signals for days, and it will be an incredible challenge to locate it, as the depth of the Atlantic Ocean can extend down to 22,000+ feet. It’s the perverbial needle in a haystack, but in this scenario, robotic divers are looking for the black box in pitch black water. And there is a ton of ocean surface area to cover. I certainly wish them luck. They will need it.
Now, on to the theories as to why Air France Flight 447 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. While the exact cause of the crash of AF 447 may never be known, here are a few of the theories I have seen so far:
Lightning Strike in a Severe Storm
Flight 447 was flying in the intertropical convergence zone, an area of the Atlantic Ocean where the northeast trade winds meet the southeast trade winds. The convergence of these two wind patterns is known to cause severe storms and extreme weather. The plane was flying at 35,000 feet, and the storms were topping out at 50,000 feet. There was likely no way to avoid the storm. No way to go over or around it. Apparently, pilots often face severe weather, and they typically have to pick their way through the storm. In a case where electrical malfunctions may have caused systems to go out, it could be that the pilots did not have any reliable data as they made their way through the storm. For example, if the pilots had lost use of their weather radar, finding a safe way through a severe storm could have been extremely difficult and ultimately tragic.
Examining many forums and news site, there are tons of interviews with experienced airline pilots, who claim that lightning was most likely not the primary cause for the crash of Flight 447. It appears that lightning could have played a role, but lightning is likely not the primary culprit in this scenario.
Turbulence: It is possible that Flight AF447 hit severe turbulence in the storm. Updrafts and downdrafts of 100mph were likely present in these storms, and those could prove extremely dangerous in the context of an extreme storm like the one they were flying in. Furthermore, the plane may have encountered several instances of turbulence, and it is even a possibility that some of that turbulence caused minor damage to the interior of the plane.
Other possible weather-related theories are icing, hail and precipitation. If you are interested on more detailed information regarding the weather’s impact on Flight 447, I recommend checking out this site here. Tim’s assessment is excellent.
Okay. Now that the weather-related scenarios are out of the way, new information came out today that the an Argentina-to-Paris Air France flight was delayed on May 27, 2009 due to a bomb threat (here):
The airport safety delayed an Air France flight this evening before departring for Paris immediately after the company received a bomb threat over the phone at the airport of Ezeiza.
The Federal Police, along the Firemen’s direction and the Airport’s Safety proceeded to inspect the plane, that arrived this morning from the French city and, after a brief stop, it was preparing to return.
The routine procedure lasted approximately one hour and a half and, as sources of the airport reported all the passengers are ok and they were not evacuated.
Currently there is no evidence to suggest that Flight AF 447 was the target of a bomb, but it is a strange coincidence that another Air France flight was delayed out of South America due to a bomb threat only a few days before Flight AF 447’s tragic crash.
Any time a plane crashes, there is a conspiracy theory. I found one conspiracy theory related to Flight 447. As we all know, there were 228 people on board the flight. Early reports say that the passengers represented 32 nationalities. It is thought that one of the passengers was Pedro Luiz de Orleans e Braganca. He was actually Prince Pedro Luiz de Orleans e Braganca, heir to the former Brazilian family that has been out of power since 1889. According to Wikipedia:
He was born 12 January 1983 in Rio de Janeiro and was the son of the Brazilian Prince Antonio and his Belgian wife, née Princess Christine de Ligne. The House of Ligne is one of the oldest and most prominent Wallonian noble families still extant in Belgium. Christine is a niece of former Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg. Through her, Pedro Luís held a remote place in the line of succession to the throne of Luxembourg.
As his father’s eldest brothers, Luís and Bertrand, are bachelors, it was expected, after his own father, that Pedro would in due time become the head of the Imperial House of Brazil and heir to the defunct Brazilian crown.
In addition to Brazil’s emperors, he was a descendant of Louis Philippe I, King of the French in the male line, and of King John VI of Portugal. He was also related to John Maurice, Prince of Nassau-Siegen, renowned Dutch governor of the Brazilian northeast during the colonial period.
Apparently, Prince Pedro Luis was in line to become the Emporer, though it should be reiterated that his family has been out of power since 1889. It is highly unlikely that this conspiracy theory holds any water, but I thought it would be worth noting due to the Brazilian royalty possibly on board the plane.
I’ll be updating this blog with any new information related to Flight 447, so check back daily.