Search for Air France 447 to resume

air france 447 searchFrench air accident investigators announced yesterday that search teams will return to a remote region of the Atlantic to resume the search for Air France Flight 447 in early 2011. Officials from the airline and the investigative agency recently met with families of the passengers on board that flight, who urged them to continue the search for the missing plane. Those families have lingering questions about what happened to their loved ones and why the plane went down under mysterious circumstances.

On June 1st, 2009, Flight 447 took off from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on a trip to Paris, France. While crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the Airbus A330-200 encountered stormy weather and was never heard from again. There were 228 passengers on board at the time of the crash. The planes two flight recorders have never been recovered and little wreckage was ever found either.

This will be the fourth search team sent to the region where the plane is believed to have gone down. Previous searches have garnered few results in part because of the remote nature of the crash site. It will take two to four days by ship just to get to the location where the plane is believed to have gone down. Past searches have been hampered by underwater mountains, deep trenches, and thousands of miles of ocean.

The search is scheduled to resume in February of next year with investigators hoping to not only discover the wreckage, but also solve the mystery of why the plane crashed in the first place.

[Photo credit: Pawel Kierzkowski via WikiMedia]

2009 was a relatively safe year for air travel

Yes – I know 2009 is not over for everyone just yet, but assuming nothing bad happens tonight, we’ll be able to say farewell to a year that was relatively safe for air travel.

In 2009, there were 111 accidents involving commercial aircraft. Of those accidents, 20 were fatal to one or more passengers.

The average from the past ten years was 135 accidents, 28 of which were fatal. Looking at the figures for the past three years, air travel is amazingly safe – only one accident for every 1.7 million flights.

In 2009, there were several major accidents – the largest of course involving Air France flight 447 which dropped into the ocean 350 miles off the coast of Brazil. The cause of this crash is still under investigation, and the black box has not been retrieved.

In the United states, the worst accident happened back in February when a Colgan Air turbo prop crashed into a Buffalo home, killing all 49 people on board, plus one person on the ground. The Buffalo crash has thankfully helped create some more attention for pilot working conditions, and improved training.

Of course, the Hudson river incident is the one that will probably stick with us the longest.

We were just 15 days into 2009 when Captain Chesley Sullenberger ditched his US Airways Airbus A320 into the Hudson river. Everyone on board was able to evacuate the plane, and with just a few minor injuries, this accident was a fantastic piece of news for an otherwise gloomy and depressing January. This accident also showed the power of social media, as Twitter was the source of the first news and photos from the crash.

(Sources: NLR-Air Transport Safety Institute / Telegraaf)

Air France Airbus hits severe turbulence 10 miles from doomed aircraft location

Here is a scary piece of aviation mystery – On November 29th, Air France flight 445 from Paris to Rio had to make an emergency descent after hitting severe turbulence. Now, bad turbulence is something any air passenger will have to deal with at least once in their life. It isn’t fun, but it usually goes away after 10-20 minutes.

In the case of this Air France flight, things get a tad more spooky – the bad turbulence was almost in the exact same spot as where Air France flight 447 crashed back in June. And since investigators don’t know the exact cause of that crash, they are paying very close attention to the events experienced by flight 445 as they may help provide clues about the doomed plane.

When the severe turbulence started, the pilots sent out a mayday, and descended by about 5,000 feet. After 30 minutes of turbulence, they plane entered smoother skies, and continued on to Rio with its 215 passengers.