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Air France Flight 447 Missing

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Air France Flight 447 Missing

Old 06-01-2009, 08:44 AM
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Default Air France Flight 447 Missing

PARIS, France (CNN) -- An Air France plane feared to have crashed in the Atlantic with 228 people aboard reported electrical problems in stormy weather before it lost contact, the airline said Monday, describing the loss as a "catastrophe."

Officials said the Airbus A330-200 sent automated messages of electrical failure and pressure loss as it hit turbulence, vanishing from the radar early in its flight from Rio de Janeiro to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.

Brazil and France have scrambled search and rescue aircraft on both sides of the Atlantic, but with a vast area to scour, there were dwindling hopes of finding survivors.

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed his "very deep concern" over the loss of flight AF447. Sarkozy was reported to be heading to Charles de Gaulle where a crisis center has been set up for grieving relatives.

The loss of a relatively new model of one of the aviation sector's most reliable and state-of-the-art aircraft has stunned analysts who say it would take extremely violent weather to bring down such a large jet.

Former Airbus pilot John Wiley told CNN that speculation lightning had brought down the plane was likely to prove unfounded since most modern passenger aircraft were capable of withstanding direct strikes.

The last known contact with the plane -- carrying 126 men, 82 women, seven children and a baby, plus the crew -- was at 1:33 GMT Monday (8:33 p.m. Sunday ET), according to the Brazilian Air Force.

Brazil says it has launched two air force squadrons to hunt near the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha in the Atlantic Ocean, 365 kilometers (226 miles) from its coast, although the plane vanished outside the country's radar coverage.

The Air Force said the jet was last logged flying at an altitude of 10,600 meters (35,000 feet) before contact was lost. When the plane failed to make further contact, Brazilian air controllers contacted their counterparts in Senegal.

France's ambassador to Senegal told CNN affiliate BFMTV that French military aircraft had been dispatched to search the west African country's coast.

Air France has set up a hotline in connection with the incident: 0800 800 812 in France, or +33 157021055 for international callers.

Th airline's CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon told a news conference: "I can say without doubt that this is a catastrophe." He said: "The entire Air France company and its staff are very moved and affected by this."

Air France has also set up a hotline: 0800 800 812 in France, or +33 157021055 for international callers.

Airbus has opened a crisis room and their flight safety team is in place, a company spokesperson told CNN. Airbus is working closely with authorities and Air France, he said, declining to comment further.

Gourgeon said the aircraft involved was a new Airbus piloted by a "particularly experienced crew."

Analyst Kieran Daly of online aviation news service Air Transport Intelligence told CNN that the lack of communication with the aircraft "does suggest it was something serious and catastrophic."Watch aviation expert describe possible scenarios

"It is an extremely young fleet by aviation standards," he said. "The A330 is state-of-the-art with extremely reliable engines made by General Electric."

CNN air travel expert Richard Quest says the twin-engine plane, a stalwart of transatlantic routes, has an impeccable safety record, with only one fatal incident involving a training flight in 1994.

"It has very good range, and is extremely popular with airlines because of its versatility," he said.

Airbus said the aircraft involved in the incident had totaled 18,870 flight hours since entering service in 18 April 2005. Its last maintenance check in the hangar took place on 16 April 2009.
--CNN's Ayesha Durgahee, Helena DeMoura and Lianne Turner contributed to this report.
Air France Jet Carrying 228 Vanishes Over Atlantic Ocean - International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News - FOXNews.com
Missing Air France jet suffered electrical failure - CNN.com
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Old 06-01-2009, 08:48 AM
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*sorry, did not know it was posted before*
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Old 06-01-2009, 08:57 AM
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Here's the existing thread:

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