Civil air traffic control authorities in Brazil, Africa, Spain and France have all failed in their attempts to contact the Air France Airbus A330-200 which vanished en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris overnight.
French military air traffic control, says Air France chief executive Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, has also tried to reach the aircraft but "without success".
Flight AF447 departed Rio de Janeiro at 19:03 yesterday. Air France confirms that it experienced "strong turbulence" while flying through a thunderstorm at about 02:00UTC.
The aircraft then generated an automated message about a quarter of an hour later, at 02:14UTC, which Air France says was "indicating a failure of the electrical system" while the flight was in a remote coastal region.
Air France has confirmed the aircraft as airframe 660, registration F-GZCP, which had accumulated 18,870hr in flight. The twin-jet, powered by General Electric CF6-80E engines, was put into service in April 2005.
The carrier says the captain had logged 11,000hr including 1,700hr on A330 and A340 aircraft.
One of the two co-pilots had a total of 3,000hr, the other 6,600hr, with 800hr and 2,600hr on A330/340s respectively.
Air France adds that the aircraft last checked in for maintenance on 16 April.
It has confirmed that 216 passengers, including eight children, plus a crew of 12 were on board the flight.