France’s BEA has said what it so far has to say about AF447 and has probably wisely not taken the discussion much further forward. Agency head is Paul-Louis Arslanian, who’s going to be a pretty busy guy as he’s still in charge of the ANZ A320 investigation, and he’s once again being exceptionally open about what’s going on. Today’s press conference was lengthy and conducted in both French and English.
Some points. Obviously an exceptionally difficult investigation lies ahead but the ramifications of an unsolved mystery are pretty horrendous for Airbus and I have little doubt that France Inc will move heaven and earth to pin down the cause.
And what might that be? Well, as I’ve been saying on umpteen TV and radio shows all week, we really don’t know if weather caused this.
Personally I don’t think it can have been the primary cause, but it will be a surprise if it’s not a factor of course.
Meanwhile I’m curious about this airworthiness directive which mandated operators to insert information in the A330 flight manual about what to do if you suffer double pitot tube heat failure (or radome failure – and in fact unreliable airspeed indications for any reason.) It was issued after several reports of aircraft suffering exactly that situation in heavy icing.
Here’s what is claimed, plausibly I think, to be a report of what was experienced on one A330 when exactly that happened. Not a happy situation.
And here’s French magazine Le Point, which has been doing a good job on this story, citing Air France sources as saying AF447 did in fact experience icing on the probes. As many of you will have seen, here’s a superb analysis of the weather at the time by one Tim Vasquez, who’s new to me but maybe not to you.
I’m frankly surprised to hear of that problem affecting a current generation widebody, but that’s aviation I suppose. If you can shed light on this issue then please leave a comment.
Finally I think Arslanian was fairly deliberately playing down the chances offinding the recorders and/or substantial wreckage. In fact theprecedents are pretty good – you have to look hard for instances inwhich recorders are not found, even in oceanic water.
- South African Airways Boeing 747 Combi ‘Helderberg’ lost in deepwater in 1987. CVR found, although not FDR, after a markedly less thanperfect salvage operation.
- Birgenair Boeing 757 FDR found by US Navy in 7,000ft of water
- TW800 – OK, not deep, but big wreckage field and the pinger had broken off the FDR
- China Airlines 747 in 2002 – both found
- TransAsia ATR 72 in 2002 – both found …and there are others.
I realise this water is very deep indeed, but technology has moved onquite a bit since some of those earlier ones. And I don’tthink money will be an object.