On air: The loss of flight AF 447

Emily put in a lot of work on a show looking at the rise of the far-right in Europe, but that will have to wait for another day as this story is getting more and more of your attention.

Flight to Paris

We’re not taking one particular angle, more hearing the many different reactions that you’re having.

We’ll start in Brazil and France where this story has overtaken everything else, but we know interest in this is global, so wherever you are your thoughts are welcome.

Are you disconcerted that a major airline with a new-ish plane can come down like this? Especially as experts seem at a loss to explain why it would have disintegrated as the spread of debris suggests.

Will it make you apprehensive about flying? Or is that to ignore that this remains one of the safest forms of transport.

And if you have questions, we hope to two aviation experts who can offer their answers.

97 Responses to “On air: The loss of flight AF 447”

  1. June 3, 2009 at 14:30

    My initial reaction (as a very frequent flyer, and not unused to severe storms and turbulence etc), was that it had been blown up.
    But given the present climate of both manufactured and well founded paranoia, to release such information would have had such a devastating effect on a beleaguered travel industry, that perhaps better just keep quiet about it. And given that investigators may never find the flight recorder, will we ever know? Quite strange for an Airbus to just disintegrate though…

    • 2 Jessica in NYC
      June 3, 2009 at 18:06

      My mother had your reaction and is now refusing to get on a plane.

      I don’t think it’s better to keep this information quiet. If it was a bomb, we should know. Yes, it would hurt the travel industry, but people will get on airplanes again. I got on a one 4/5 days after 9/11.

      • 3 Tom K in Mpls
        June 3, 2009 at 23:40

        Bomb or mechanical failure, who cares. Both kill, both are rare. Stats keep getting better as far as safety. It’s still safer than driving but air crashes get headlines due to the number of people involved. If people want to fixate on dying, fine. I’d rather think of drinking a St Paul ale with Oregon grown hops.

    • 4 SIDD
      June 9, 2009 at 13:08

      it is one of the most tragic incident of aviation history although it is now clear what has caused the crash some questions that the aircraft may have disintegrated in mid-air does make me a bit suspicious.

      Can any one tell me is there any chance that such high tech aircraft could disintegrated due to stall?

      Can’t this aircraft recover from a a stall?

  2. 5 Mohammed Ali
    June 3, 2009 at 14:31

    This is a real tragic for the entire world especially for those of us who are always engage in long distance flying. I feltso terrible upon the breaking of the news on CNN. I left everything and keep following the news on both the BBC and CNN.

    It is an irrepairable loss to the families, love ones and friends of those who were onboard that flight.

    Actually I am always apprehensive when flying because I know that any little danger from up there results to massive loss.

    My condolences to the families of those who were on that plane.

  3. 6 Bob in Queensland
    June 3, 2009 at 14:35

    It’s far too early to know what caused AF447 to crash–but, as tragic as they are, plane crashes are very rare. However, no matter how much effort you put into training, machinery and procedures, things will go wrong–but I was probably in more danger standing on a chair changing a light bulb today. Will the crash alter my attitude to flight? Nope. I’m in the process of booking round the world tickets right now–and won’t lose any sleep over our plans.

  4. June 3, 2009 at 14:35

    I think there is a lot of powerful psychology going on when it comes to major air travel and dramatic crashes like this. First of all, it is this improbable triumph of humans over gravity…think about it…in about sixty years humans went from the first rickety flying machines in North Carolina (I think) to landing on the moon. the moon! So, as a species I think we are still a little awestruck and terrified subconsciously that we line up to be packed like sardines into a flying metal tube that soars across oceans and continents.

    Our triumph over the natural laws is never as absolute as the most optimistic humanists among us like to imagine. We discover the secret of nuclear reactions….then we create a monster that allows unthinkable atrocity. We create ingenious engines that run on fossil fuels….then we guzzle it till we’re fat drunk and stuck with global warming….so anyway, we create flying machines and then sh*t happens. Storms still beat the might humans sometimes.

    Given that, and the psychological impact of the dramatic way in which a plane crashes, the absolute horror and destruction…it hardly seems to matter that statistics show us it’s safer than getting in our car every morning to brave the roads. Maybe there is still an innate sense of awe and wonder that I think might ratchet up the level of fear and distrust. Just a theory. In any case, it won’t keep me from flying.

  5. June 3, 2009 at 14:50

    we tend to take everything for granted. our life here is a “vapor.” it can end at anytime. how often do we think about how dangerous it is to drive/ride in a car? this horrible accident was not caused by human error or product defect. an electrical problem
    (caused by the lightning?) made the jet uncontrollable. computers can be a blessing or a curse. have you put your eternal house in order? i have. my eternity is assured. don’t wait till tomorrow, you may not have it. see Romans 10:9 in the Holy Bible. GOD bless you and please pray for the victims and their loved ones.

  6. June 3, 2009 at 14:55

    First of all, i mourn all the people, who were torn from their lives on flight 447.

    This disaster is statistically small compared to the number of flights, carried out daily all over the world. Bad weather can have an disastrous effect on any means of transportation. Wether it is a tree, which falls due to wind on a car, carrying a family; a giant wave, sinking or damaging a ship on open sea or a construction crane, falling into a house and also killing people.
    Everytime we travel, it is a gamble with nature. It even is, when we’re at home (think of earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis etc).

    A few years ago, we were caught in a thunderstorm over the Pacific Ocean, testing the flexibiliy of the wings of our B 747 400 and a few months ago, over Germany, where turbulences gripped us and even the flight attendants had to secure the service cart in the aisle with a blanket.
    These demonstrations just made clear, how vulnerable we still are to nature, but it does not change my attitude towards flying. If I did, I would die of fear.

  7. 12 Ramesh, India
    June 3, 2009 at 14:57

    My question to the experts is that do we really know the exact reason for the crash?

  8. 13 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    June 3, 2009 at 15:14

    I have to fly from my home in Switzerland to my native California about once each year and I am always afraid. There are just SO MANY things that can go wrong. I’ve experienced terrifying turbulence over the North Atlantic. I’ve taken off in an ice storm, and landed during gale-force winds. Even something as prosaic as a flight of birds can bring a modern, sophisticated plane down, as happened in New York’s Hudson River not long ago.

    One hears horror stories of drunken Russian pilots and dilapidated planes in Third World Countries, but I have found the planes flying international routes to be well-maintained, with well-trained pilots.

    But accidents happen. I’ll always be afraid, but that won’t stop me from flying.

  9. 14 Crispo
    June 3, 2009 at 15:15

    Travel by flight has never seized to be scary, whatever assurances the airline companies and airline manufacturers like to think. Let me ask: how did man get this urge to go aero anyway? Do we know everything about aero-dynamics?
    Why does it always prove difficult to explain the causes of air accidents whenever there is one? What’s the role of the black box and voice box? It seems there isn’t any valuable information from these metalic pieces of ‘whatever they are made of’. It’s so sad that aeronautics eludes the very people who are experts on the subject itself. Makes me feel weary that one day i will be hanging lousely in some piece of metal in the air bound to ‘God knows where’ what a sham?

  10. 15 steve
    June 3, 2009 at 15:21

    I don’t see how this could be weather related, as where it was, it had to be flying at over 30,000 feet, and thunderstorms don’t go up that high, at least I would think. I’ve never crossed the atlantic and been at cloud level, always much higher than them. Not too concerned about the reliability of Airbus, as they are very well built planes and have a great service record, and this plane isn’t that new, it’s been in service for almost 15 years now. Had it the record of the De Havilland Comet, then we’d have something to be worried about.

    • 16 Tom K in Mpls
      June 3, 2009 at 23:44

      I know lightning is rarely even a minor problem for airplanes. But I have heard from astronauts that a large percentage of lightning goes up. They say the view is better from orbit.

    • 17 AJ
      June 6, 2009 at 15:57

      The plane was 4 yrs old. It has been serviced regularly, but that isn’t the case. The plane disintegrated in the air before hitting the ocean surface. What caused it, who knows?

  11. June 3, 2009 at 15:36

    Salaam… Actually this is a very sad story, and horrifying at the same time, it does remind me alot of classic American horror films… I’ve never taken a flight in my entire life before, so I really don’t know what’s it’s like to be on plane, but I do have a deep faith that we can never run away from death if it’s our fate to die on this particular time and in this particular place… Since 2003 and till now (although to a much lesser extent) bombed cars and roadside bombs were out there hunting the lives of thousands and thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, but life had just to go on b/c nobody at all can stop life from moving on, so we didn’t quit living, we just went on living carrying deep inside us this unshaken faith that no one at all can run away from death if he/she were destined to die… My sincere condolences and sympathy go to the families of victims… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

    • June 4, 2009 at 07:32

      Well said sister Lubna… you made a good point here… Death is unavoidable… I would like to mention here that some weeks back a plane crashed in indonesia (or may b malaysia, cant remember the exact country) it crashed on a house exploding after it touched the ground. 3 people inside the house perished in that accident and surprisingly there were some survivals who were on board!!! so this clearly tells how uncanny the death is. life will surely start rolling for those who lost their loved ones.. we hope they recover from this loss soon.

      Shafi from Bahrain.

  12. 20 Terrance Firma
    June 3, 2009 at 15:38

    Has anyone claimed responsibility yet — even as a propaganda execrcise?

  13. 21 Bob in Queensland
    June 3, 2009 at 15:41

    @steve Just for the record, thunder clouds can reach as high as 60,000 feet (far higher than a passenger plane can go) and contains violent wind shears that can be dangerous even to large planes. Passenger jets always avoid such storms. FYI, the clouds themselves can’t be detected on radar, though the heavy precipitation inside them usually can.

  14. 22 ecotopian
    June 3, 2009 at 15:42

    Why do humans think we are invincible? We are fragile. The things we build are fragile. If it’s made, it can break. Nothing, not even mountains, last forever. Why should a airplane?

    No, I’m not scared to fly. More planes land than crash. It’s too mundane to report that fact everyday.

    My condolences to the families. I will give them space to grieve in peace.

  15. 23 Anthony
    June 3, 2009 at 15:48

    The rise of the right in Europe would be a better topic. Who cares about a plane that went down, that many people die each day in America from the flu. It was an accident that was bound to happen, and it’s still safer than driving. Come on, I don’t know why people freak out about plane crashes.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  16. 24 Steve in Boston
    June 3, 2009 at 16:11

    After I read about the accident I took a look at the online satellite loop for that part of the Atlantic during the time of the flight, and was astonished to see the size and intensity of the thunderstorms stretching out from the coast of Africa. They extended at least 1,000 miles off the coast of Africa. It seems unlikely that the plane could have found a hole to pass through, and I’ve read that these storms can extend to altitudes of 50,000 to 60,000 feet, so flying over the top was not an option.

    To go around the storms would have required a stop to refuel somewhere, probably in Africa or maybe North America, which leads me to my point.

    Years ago I was on a winter flight from London to New York, and the plane had to divert high over Greenland to avoid a storm over the Atlantic. We landed at Gander Int’l Airport in Newfoundland in the wee hours of the morning to refuel. No big deal. A couple of hours’ delay.

    But that was decades ago, when fuel was cheap and profit margins for airlines were greater. Now I’m beginning to wonder:


    I think there needs to be an investigation of Air France to determine if there were any radio communications with the pilot that we’re not hearing about. I’d also like to know their policy on flight diversions and refueling stops.

  17. 25 Roy, Washington DC
    June 3, 2009 at 17:03

    @ Steve

    I stongly doubt that they would have risked flying through the storm to save money. Route around the storm as needed, and if they need to divert for fuel, then that’s what they need to do. Safety is *always* stressed in aviation.

  18. 26 Fran, from Sevilla
    June 3, 2009 at 17:05

    My opinion is that there should be a system whereby data from the plane can be storaged in a hard disk outside the plane thru satelite communication perhaps or whatever system. So it would be easy to find out the reasons why such estrange and misterious accidents like this occurs. Using high technology like this could help to prevent future accidents

  19. 27 Andrew in Australia
    June 3, 2009 at 17:16

    In theory if a jet airliner is built and maintained properly and the pilots in peak condition, nothing should go wrong. But as history shows us terrorists can down a plane, weather can down a plane and cost cutting or shoddy construction/design flaw can also bring planes down. Go through ‘accident’ investigation reports of air incidents and you can see just how risky flying can be when affected by something as simple as 20 cent piece of tape by a $2 per hour cleaner with no knowledge of flight systems or a replacement bolt picked out in a dim storeroom by a maintenance man who doesn’t check to see it actually IS the correct size. Just like anything in life the uncertainties of human intervention and decision making places an inherent risk in everything we do especially with complex pieces of technology and the laws of physics.

  20. June 3, 2009 at 17:32

    I am not afraid to fly, it is the fastest and safest means of transport.

  21. 30 Tony from Singapura
    June 3, 2009 at 17:36

    Tragic and sad particularly for the left behind family and loved ones. I frequently fly between Singapore and United States and have given a lot of thought to how a plane crash would affect my life. here is what I think:

    We drive on the roads and highways every day, that is a more likely way of being killed or maimed, So we already accept unnatural death as a normal life risk.

    You have to die of something and death by plane crash is much faster than dying of cancer or heart disease.

    dying in a plane crash doesn’t cost you anything. Dying of cancer can cost a bunch and drain the financial resources of your family if not adequatly insured. Often there is a financial compensation that will go to your family after the crash, so death by plane crash could be quite attractive financially:

    loved ones:
    This is the biggest problem, the ones left behind are the ones that suffer. Some will never recover from losing a loved one in such a way. This is what saddens me when I read of plane crashes.

    Spiritual: errrr, not really prepared. probably end up in the big oven downstairs.

  22. 31 Linda, France
    June 3, 2009 at 17:53

    Having been a flight attendent from 1968 – 2005 I always feel very sad when these terrible disasters happen. I really don’t think that anyone should feel frightened about flying it is the safest way to go and the pilots are so fantastically trained and they are highly intelligent the cabin crew are trained to a high standared to look after passengers in an immergency. A disaster like this is a fluke or sinister but rare.

  23. 32 Adam, Portland, Oregon
    June 3, 2009 at 17:54

    I am not concerned about flying. the safety records of 99.9% of all commercial flights speak for themselves.

  24. 33 nalini
    June 3, 2009 at 17:55

    Why are blackboxes likely to end up in the depths? Is there any way to make them floatable and accessible in the sad event that they’re the only clue left? (I presume they’re flame and shock-resistant, but the reports say the box may have sunk to the depths and never be found).

    Although the regular 0ff-plane backups of blackbox data (via some comm link) that someone mentioned is a good idea, the last few minutes or seconds of data would only be retrievable off the box itself so Im wondering whether there were are no possible measures towards making the box retrievable..in all scenarios including the one such as this, where the depths are immense.Perhaps this has been thought off and there are no workarounds.


  25. 34 Tom D Ford
    June 3, 2009 at 17:59

    First of all this is a terrible tragedy.

    Then, considering the lost Black Box problem, it seems to me that aircraft ought to just stream that data constantly in real time to the ground and save each flight on hard drives until the flight is cleared as having landed safely. They could back it up on Blu-Ray discs if they want to save the data and then reuse the hard drives. Then if the Black Box cannot be found or is lost somewhere like the current one, the data is still available. It will cost a huge amount of money to retrieve this one if it can be found at all.

  26. 35 Jessica in NYC
    June 3, 2009 at 18:00

    I’m not sure what to make of it. First, I do not think we have all the information. It’s difficult to accept that this is all the information they have and seem more like they are trying to contain the situation. Second, as a frequently flier I know it is a safer method of travel than driving. However, I am concerned about the lack of explanation. These planes are made to withstand lightening and the pilot had an enormous amount of experienced.

  27. 36 deryck/trinidad
    June 3, 2009 at 18:02

    The plane crash was tragic but flying is safer than driving. Another thing ,lets not speculate until we know the facts about the crash. Speculation can lead to major panic, further damaging the plane industry and possibly leading to the additional loss of jobs.

  28. 37 Pravin
    June 3, 2009 at 18:04

    In my opinion, flying is an excellent and efficient means of transport. At times, although flying can be fatal, I will still continue flying as i feel that the relative safety of flying strongly outweighs the risks associated with it.

  29. 38 patti in cape coral
    June 3, 2009 at 18:09

    My mother frequently flies from southwest Florida to Colombia, and has never had problems. She does believe in being prepared, though, so she always makes sure everything (will, POA, trusts, etc.)is in order when she travels “just in case.” This year, however, the day after she arrived in Colombia, there was a plane downed in Fort Lauderdale, and the day after she arrived back in Florida, the AirFrance plane went missing. It kind of makes you think. I don’t travel frequently, but I actually enjoy being on a plane when I do travel ( I know, crazy).

    This was a tragic occurence, and especially unsettling when the cause is still not known, but it wouldn’t deter me from flying; after all, nothing is fool-proof or fail-proof.

  30. 39 Jennifer
    June 3, 2009 at 18:14

    Re: Will it make you apprehensive about flying? Or is that to ignore that this remains one of the safest forms of transport.

    Plane crashes are the exception not the rule. This one crash doesn’t make me more apprehensive that I already am about flying.

    I am personally not a fan of traveling by air, but it is the fastest way of getting from point a to point b. Many issues can occur so there is always risk associated. Just the same as there are risks associated with other modes of transportation. Take your pick; no matter how you travel you are at risk for an accident to occur.

    The hardest thing about this crash is that there will little clues as to the cause and no closure for those losing loved ones. God bless them all.

  31. 40 Sean, Cleveland, Ohio
    June 3, 2009 at 18:14

    My heart and prayers go out to all of the families who lost someone in the flight which fell from the sky recently. Although many questions are still unanswered, I believe this was a direct cause between some mechanical failure and the severe turbulence over the sea.

  32. 41 Pravin
    June 3, 2009 at 18:14

    I have to agree with deryck from trinidad. Back in 2004 i was listening to a documentary by the BBC about road fatalities in india. The reporter mentioned something along the lines of a certain number of accidents (overwhelming i must say) happening every second. This tells us that the probability of dying in a road accident is higher than dying in an aviation accident. Secondly the fact that an airplane from a major airline carrier (with a good reputation) based in a developed country was involved in such a high profile accident suggests the safety of air travel is unpredictable.

  33. 42 steve
    June 3, 2009 at 18:16

    The reason she should care about the cause of the crash is so that something like this never happens again to other people.

  34. 43 Miguel Ulises Hernández Rodríguez
    June 3, 2009 at 18:20

    Hello – In Mexico we had an aircraft fallen a few months ago. In this aircraft were the two more important authorities agains the drug traffic war the authorities said that was an accident caused for the turbulence of other bigger aircraft. In general nobody believe that the important cuestion in the case of the frances airplane is HOW WAS IN THE PLANE? In this way you will now what cause its fall.

  35. 44 Tom D Ford
    June 3, 2009 at 18:21

    Some forty years ago I learned of one companies policy that their people were not allowed to fly on the same aircraft so that if one crashed they would not lose all of their valued people.

  36. 45 Michael in New York
    June 3, 2009 at 18:22

    Patricia’s mobile phone – she just said it’s still working. She said she phoned up O2 and “it’s been engaged twice today.” Why isn’t the phone being located? It sounds like it’s somewhere other than in the middle of the Atlantic. Why is this just glossed over??

    • 46 Jessica in NYC
      June 3, 2009 at 18:29

      I thought I misheard that comment. Phones can be traced if it is on. I’m perplexed by this. There must be something else to it.

  37. 47 UMOH AMOS (from Nigeria)
    June 3, 2009 at 18:25

    I am in awe and utter shock that at my age, with all the years that I have been flying that THERE ARE PLACES on the globe where planes can fly into and even for a second, have a DISCONNECT in any form, from the control tower and radar.

    I am shock for words that with the advancement in technology, human being could afford the luxury of that particular technology gap (for any reason on earth).

    I have heard argument on the internet that implementing GPRS in airplanes will have a huge cost impact, which will be transferred to the passengers in the final analysis. The irony is that, would have help to prevent, reduce or aid in immediate Search and Rescue? If the answer is Yes, then why not.

    The worst air accident with the most modern of technology has just happened before our eyes. How so sad!

    • 48 AJ
      June 6, 2009 at 16:13

      To Umoh

      You’re wrong, planes can be lost on a radar but usually found within hours or days on a crash site, what makes AF447 unusual is no wreckage or human remains found, this is difficult to comprehend.

  38. 49 KN
    June 3, 2009 at 18:34


    Has there been any talk of Upper-atmospheric lightning as a possible cause?
    This type of lightning is rare, but much more powerful that ‘standard’ lightning, and occurs above thunderstorms.

  39. 50 Tom D Ford
    June 3, 2009 at 18:36

    You’re welcome about the Black Box Data streaming suggestion, Ros.

  40. 51 steve
    June 3, 2009 at 18:40

    For Nadine:

    I would think a vast lot more people were killed in car accidents on the day that this Air France flight crashed. Do you fear getting into cars since you are much more likely to die in a car crash than an airplane crash?

  41. 52 alan
    June 3, 2009 at 18:40

    The crash was a tragedy and my deepest sympathies to all the lives that were lost on that fateful day.
    Even though these lives would never be back again, I think that the crash should be adequately investigated and mechanical faults or intrinsic defects in the design, if any should be corrected. And I hope it would be done.

  42. 53 Tomas in NYC
    June 3, 2009 at 18:44

    Doesn’t the fact that several debris fields have been found tens of miles apart indicate that the plane disintegrated in mid-air?

  43. 54 steve
    June 3, 2009 at 18:46

    De Havilland comets would break up, so it is possible.

  44. 55 Kurt From Oregon
    June 3, 2009 at 18:48

    Couldn’t the size of the debris field have been caused by the aircraft skipping across the surface while being torn apart, and then being furthur distributed by currents or winds?

  45. 56 deepak ( Nepal)
    June 3, 2009 at 18:49

    what ever happen it happen ……now let pray a god for those people who died. and Hope to fine black box ….

  46. 57 Tom D Ford
    June 3, 2009 at 18:49

    Wouldn’t you think that any self disrespecting terrorist would have claimed a bombing of that plane by now?

  47. 59 terry hamrick
    June 3, 2009 at 18:52

    There is too much speculation here, as a respected news agency you should concentrating on the known, not the speculative.

  48. June 3, 2009 at 18:53

    Im listening to you from Buenos Aires and let me tell you that this story has caught my attention in such a way…. i can´t believe it…but let´s go direct to the subject… i don´t get how a new plane can be destroyed in the way it was.. can it explode itself?.. cos they have found so many debris all over the place
    My regards to all of the families that has lost their relatives and friends

  49. 61 Sulayman Dauda in kaduna Nigeria
    June 3, 2009 at 18:55

    The failure and delay to identify the exact location of the crash 447 plane posed a serious challenge to the world science and technology. what else can the world do to overcome these shortcoming in future?……

  50. June 3, 2009 at 18:55

    maybe the samething that downed twa flight 800, did the same to this flight, too.

  51. 63 Kshitiz Pandey from Nepal
    June 3, 2009 at 18:56

    It is terrible accident. I can’t imagind about what is happening to the relatives of those passengers. Even i can’t think whether i can travel in plane or not in the future. I really feel sad.

  52. 64 Tom D Ford
    June 3, 2009 at 18:56

    I remember that many years ago some people would take out big insurance policies and then make a plane crash in order to collect on the policy. I think that has been stopped but I’d think that any insurance claims would be looked at very carefully.

  53. 65 Stefan in Prague
    June 3, 2009 at 18:56

    the woman afraid to fly- does she ride in cars? 3500 people die every day in cars around the world. does anybody ever do a radio program about that?

  54. 66 Paul
    June 3, 2009 at 18:57

    I am and have been a frequent flier for 30+ years and am concerned that today’s planes are all wired and computerised so that they are described as “fly by wire”.
    It is possible that a lightning strike, or more than one could so immobilise the primary and back up systems that the plane became unflyable and all communication capabilities ceased to work.

  55. 67 Art Caden, Kalkaska, Michigan
    June 3, 2009 at 18:57

    dear Sir: I will not fly anymore–now, I take the safest way to Europe–I sail on the QM 2 when I go there. Flying is too risky, especially since the cause of this disaster will never be known. Thanks

  56. 68 WN, Madison, WI
    June 3, 2009 at 18:59

    It seems that the major issue with the crashed A332 is to locate the black box and the rest of the wreckage. Once that is done with pinpoint accuracy, than the retrieval equipment can be moved in place which should be in no more than six weeks’ time.

    It seems that locating the black boxes is an easier exercise and more pressing. Basically, it involves towing receivers or using submarines in the affected area, both of which can be maneuvered into place at short notice.

    It is hard to imagine that lightning could do such damage. Personally, I think that the weather vectors were so intense that it caused the breakup of the aircraft aloft. I am talking about severe updrafts and head winds. The plane could have simultaneously experienced a high- and low-speed stalls at the same time, usually referred to as the “coffin’s corner.”

    Really, the question is why did the pilot choose to go through the storm?

    Of course, this is all speculation. In any case, my condolences to the families involved.

  57. 69 Adam
    June 3, 2009 at 19:00

    I believe the plane was only a two engine type – should only 4 engine planes be traveling over these long distances?

    Also – could a bit of space debris or meteorite have caused sudden decompression or explosion??

  58. 70 Mr. Harrington
    June 3, 2009 at 19:03

    I apologize. I was nervous when I was on air. The address to my blog is matthewharrington.wordpress.com as opposed to @wordpress.com…

    Thanks for the wonderful opportunity to come on your show!

  59. 71 Linda
    June 3, 2009 at 19:09

    Message for Nadine:

    Sympathetic to your fear. I see you are a frequent flyer and I give you credit as so you obviously are trying to deal with it. So yes, flying has risks, but you must remember living has risks. People are killed (versus dying of ‘natural causes’) walking, riding, driving, sitting, standing, even while in their sleep. You can even choke to death while eating. You need to look at the statistics, the one plane that had issues made headlines, how many hundreds of other flights were the air at that time that did not have issues. Don’t let the headlines put the statistics out of proportion, and continue to do what calms you when you fly, use relaxation techniques, find something to distract yourself, etc. A few last thoughts. Consider challenging your fear head on, take flying lessons 🙂 If you do not wish to be ruled by fear, you must rule your fear. and The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.


  60. 72 Vanessa
    June 3, 2009 at 19:10

    Is the world’s weather getting worse as a result of Global Warming. Do we experience more turbulence now when flying than before? If we compare flying in the 60’s or 70’s to now………….was there less turbulence then?I would love to hear your response.
    Venessa ,South African working in Kuwait

  61. 73 Art Caden,in Kalkaska, Michigan USA
    June 3, 2009 at 19:13

    dear Sir: I will not fly anymore–now, I take the safest way to Europe–I sail on the QM 2 when I go there. Flying is too risky, especially since the cause of this disaster will never be known.

    June 3, 2009 at 19:15

    Its a sad loss to everyone, the families, the countries, and even the airline. I definitely think there was a cause but all we can do is just speculate despite our sophistications; technologically speaking.
    Come to think about it. The black box on board is such an outdated idea unless airline industry has any other motive for retaining it in this era of technology. Much of our speculation could be avoided if we had out board black boxes. After all, Airlines are able to track their planes from so many destinations. Why cant technology be used to store data, voice or even videoin ground stations?
    Technology is far from safe. I am afraid of cars and planes since the only thing to count on is simply statistics; mostly of tragic news. We are getting used to dying now with wars and other calamities. I am sure will get over it and go soaring once more whenever called for. Business as usual.

  63. 75 David
    June 3, 2009 at 19:22

    Although this accident is very tragic, I wonder why the media does not pay more attention to car crashes? According to the World Health Organization there are about 1.2 million People killed in traffic accidents every year, with 10 Million people Injured. In the UK alone, the accident figures translate into the equivalent of 10 jumbo jets crashing in the UK every month, with one of those crashes killing everyone on board and nine of them injuring everyone on board. If this were to happen even for one month, let alone regularly, month after month, then there would be an huge outcry and demands for action. However, because it is cars that are crashing, almost nothing happens. This apalling carnage on the roads is simply accepted as “accidents”. Only a few hundred people worldwide are killed in plane crashes, yet enormous efforts are made (quite rightly) to discover the cause of those crashes. Surely the fact that over 100,000 times the number of people are killed in car crashes should make the authorities sit up and put rather more effort than they do now into eliminating car crashes?

  64. 76 Tom D Ford
    June 3, 2009 at 19:29

    @ Fran, from Sevilla
    June 3, 2009 at 17:05

    “My opinion is that there should be a system whereby data from the plane can be storaged in a hard disk outside the plane thru satelite communication perhaps or whatever system. ”

    I see that you beat me to the punch about streaming the data in flight, good on you.

  65. 77 Bert
    June 3, 2009 at 19:48

    People speculate because people want to know reasons. Telling people not to speculate is silly. It will never work. Give them reasons, or they will speculate.

    My first reaction, when I heard where the debris was found, was that the airplane had not deviated that far from the ideal track. Since very powerful thunderstorms had been reported, I sort of expected them to have diverted far off the original flight plan.

    Could have been turbulence. I think that lightning, per se, tends to be conducted along the skin of the plane, so not that much of a threat. I sincerely hope they can retrieve the black boxes, voice recorder and flight data recorder. Can’t make flying any safer without that information.

  66. 78 Nsangu in Zambia
    June 3, 2009 at 19:53

    Could it be a terrorist attack?

  67. 79 Alain
    June 3, 2009 at 20:12

    Could you please post the podcast of tonight’s show asap? The topic + comments are very interesting, indeed. Thanks.

  68. 80 RightPaddock
    June 3, 2009 at 22:40

    Re streaming data in real time, this may have to be via satellite, which would introduce the issue of latency delays, and they could result in the last few seconds of data being lost, which may be vital – especially if it was a bomb.

    The recorders could be mounted in capsules that are automatically ejected from the aircraft on impact – something like an ejection seat, they would of course be designed to float.

  69. June 3, 2009 at 22:57

    It would not change my flight plans however the flight crew should have changed their flight plans due to severe thunderstorms in the area.

  70. June 4, 2009 at 00:21

    simply because an accident occurs does not mean that people should stay out of flying.

    accidents call for inquiries while the findings are a part of decision making on ways to improve performances.

    my heart goes out to the families of the victims.

    no matter what happens, i wish i could become a pilot. that has being my childhood ambition if not for my elder brother who prevented me from achieving my dream simply because of high mortality rate of air accidents.

    sometimes now i feel he was right because i have had three auto crashes in recent years while driving on a long journey due to mechanical faults.

    i do not know if anybody can survive that if it were to be three air crashes.

  71. 83 GEORGE LATO
    June 4, 2009 at 02:54

    This is such another tragic event.

    Since a large proportion of international flights are across deep oceans why not design the black box so that in case of accident it is automatically ejected and have an attachment to get it to float to the surface.

    There is not much point in emitting location signals from 12000 feet down!

  72. 84 Steve in Boston
    June 4, 2009 at 03:24

    Vanessa has a good point. This accident was clearly caused by global warming, and is therefore George Bush’s fault. Oh, and also the capitalist corporate industrialist machine, the USA, and I’m sure the Zionists somehow. Forgive me if I left anyone out.

  73. 85 Eric T
    June 4, 2009 at 03:35

    I saw a show recently about a helicopter downed by a lightning strike, which ended up being caused by composite resins used in the tail rotor.

    As more newer planes are moving away from traditional aluminum materials into the realm of newer-age composites, we may discover they are much more susceptible to lightning strikes, since composites do not have the energy-dispersing characteristics of aluminum.

    Another poster on a Seattle website mirrors this concern:

    “;Super Puma helicopter operated by Bristol is struck by lightning’:

    Look at the end of the NG Film, cause of accident:
    ‘Carbon fiber rotor blades, with a metal strip’


    Source: http://blog.seattlepi.com/aerospace/archives/169983.asp

  74. 86 globalcomedy
    June 4, 2009 at 04:17

    No disrespect to the familes and friends who lost someone on this flight. And, not to add to the fringe conspiracy stuff.

    But keep this in mind. Airlines are losing money. There’s more pressure on airline employees. Also, in the States air traffic controllers are severely overworked, underpaid (and in many cases, undertrained). For 8 years the neocons did literally nothing to solve this. And now, it’s yet another problem that Obama has to deal with. is this true worldwide?

  75. 87 JamesV
    June 4, 2009 at 05:17

    I feel I can trust the Boeings more than the larger Airbus models.

  76. 88 Milan, EU
    June 4, 2009 at 07:18

    It is, regretfully, a human nature to die sooner or later. And also air accidents are statistically the lowest cause of death in the traffic. So the crash of the plane impacted me as much as the daily accidents I meet on the roads and highways – I am sorry for the dead people, but it has no impact on my travelling behaviour.
    We should always keep on mind that we are using systems which combine humans and machines, and either can have a failure, make a mistake, or there simply can be a coincidence of “bad luck”

  77. 89 Perry
    June 4, 2009 at 11:01

    Your guest stated that the idea of streaming airplane data and cockpit voice has never been discussed before this tragedy. That is not my recollection. Streaming data and cockpit recordings were discussed a number of years ago after a similar accident but it was opposed by pilot unions because it would mean their conversations would be widely available for people to hear, even if no accident occur. I am quite sure this has been discussed in the past.

  78. 90 Lamii Kpargoi
    June 4, 2009 at 14:31

    Think you’re right to have this as the topic of discussion today. Can’t say how sorry I feel for all those who were on that plane, and their loved ones who are still waiting to know their fates. I just hope that some or all of those on board can be rescued.

    I have flown in a few turbulence before and as all who have experienced this would agree it isn’t pretty. But what is there to do, we’ll just have to continue flying until scientist can discover a mode of transportation that present zero risk to people. Let me admit here that whenever I am airborne, I always carry a fear with me till the plane lands.

  79. 91 John
    June 4, 2009 at 22:06

    Could the simple inclusion of cameras (ie. small security cameras that you see on trains and buses in many countries) help to give some visual evidence of what happens during situations like these. Images could be streamed live and archived in some central server elsewhere for later use if necessary. Even if storage was a problem, then 99.9% of data could be wiped after a cetain time period as images would only be kept in the event of an accident.

    Ok, images may not give us any technical or mathematical data, but this could help in certain instances to complete the picture (timelines, behaviour of crew, ascending or descending aircraft).

  80. 92 chuck
    June 5, 2009 at 05:32

    I am a very frequent flier, an ex private pilot with some time in modern simulators.

    It is immaterial exactly what happened.

    The issue in my mind is why were they so close to this storm to start with!!! I spoke to some pilot friends I know and they agree…

    On the sophisticated radar the the a330 carries, a storm of the intensity that can tear a plane apart “paints” on the radar HUNDREDS of miles ahead- plenty of time to deviate around or take other corrective actions.

    My gut is telling me these guys were sleeping in the cockpit or worse,tried to “challenge” the storm – The problem is that once you are in the grip of one of these storms, it is virtually impossible to get out of them alive!!

    No one wants to admit it but pilots sleeping in todays modern cockpits is more prevalent than anyone cares to believe. The total boredom of a trans oceanic trip – especially at night after a short layover is an invitation to a nap – now, with automatic position reporting, the pilots don’t even have to stay awake for that.

    Problem is that no one is going to admit to this possibility and the chances are that the black boxes/voice recorders are lost forever and we will never know for sure.

  81. 93 Dave
    June 5, 2009 at 13:05

    I think hail brought the plane down. They didn’t expect hail in those thunderous storms and I think they thought they will make it through.
    For me this is the only explanation. That is why they didn’t had anytime to respond because it hit the cockpit first and were killed instantly.
    So the plane basically flew by itself for a few kilometres. I also think that they tried to go over it but it was just to high and so the higher they went the more violent the storm became. And it is then when they got the hail storm.

  82. 94 Suresh in New Jersey
    June 8, 2009 at 13:36

    The French and Brazilian authorities have a duty to inform the flying public what exactly transpired on that flight. Somehow I get the feeling that France isn’t too keen on potentially damaging information about the Airbus leaking, which might lead to a loss of confidence/business or a grounding of some flights.

    And the Brazilians seem to be unconcerned about the fate of the black boxes. I appreciate the focus on the bodies and wreckage, but those boxes must be found.

    People have a right to know.

  83. 95 wendy houstoun
    June 9, 2009 at 23:19

    is there any link to the qantas airbus that dropped hundreds of feet last october? or the BA plane coming back from china that had electrical problems? should these planes be grounded until they find out the problem?

  84. 96 zippokonno
    June 10, 2009 at 14:02

    A few paradoxes..
    1) Why is the wreckage so widely distributed?
    2) Careful collection of wreckage, part numbering, position and time mandatory for reconstruction.
    3) Position of vertical stabiliser well off flight track?
    4) Ocean and wind current drift and dispersion cannot account for single intact impact theory.
    5) Very wide search area needed to find black boxes.
    6) =>Gradual break-up in extended crippled flight required.

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