Jun 2, 2009

AF 447 - This is going to be a long one!


I am in a state of minor confusion right now. I don’t know what to think or feel. On one hand there are feelings of ecstasy, excitement and happiness and on the other end there is shock, sympathy and devastation. But after numerous attempts to write about this topic yesterday, I am finally going for it now, hereby taking the side of the shock and sympathy.

I have been constantly following the news since last evening, and I was shocked to hear that an Air France Airbus 330 flight, AF447, flying from Rio-De-Janerio to Paris, carrying 228 people on board including 12 crewmembers, 1 infant and 5 children, went missing. Now I know that I am related to this news in a slightly more important way than usual people, but when I shared this news with some of my friends online, they were least bothered about it. I mean they were like, “Oh, yeah.. okay…” and one of them even made fun of it by saying that the airplane was lost in the “Bermuda Airangle”. Well I have nothing against them, but it could strike anyone, anytime and anywhere, and people should really start to know what’s going on around them. If you don’t know what happened, you might as well Google it and get some information before you read this post.

Like I mentioned earlier, I am related to this incident/accident [I don’t know what to call it yet since they found no dead body, but death is inevitable in this case] in a slightly different way. While the whole missing theory was being shouted over and over on the news and internet, I was thinking of what might have happened. I am not an airline pilot yet, but I will try to speak about it from whatever little I know about airplanes and weather. Firstly, I am so glad that it did not happen in India. And I say that because the French government handled the situation pretty well at that time by setting up a different cell for the relatives of all the people aboard the flight and took care of them and made them as comfortable as possible.

I was watching news when they said that the flight had been missing for over 4 hours, and that the SAR [ Search and Rescue] operations had begun. Military planes from France, Brazil, and even Britain began searching for the airplane. News officials said, the plane must have been struck by lightning. Now first of all, this plane is said to have been flying well over 40,000 feet above mean sea level, and this is the height above the Earth’s Tropopause [All the weather phenomena occurs in the Troposphere which is of the order 40,000 feet to 45,000 feet depending on the time of the year.] and rarely any adverse weather occurs there. And also, airplanes are designed to withstand forces of lightning in their structural design and it is not easy to knock out a huge Airbus 330 just like that. So I would like to dismiss the lightning theory there itself. But yes, at high altitudes there is CAT [Clear Air Turbulence] and it cannot be detected by weather radars installed on the airplane.

Then there were reports that the airplane transmitted a short circuit message 4 hours and 14 minutes after it had taken off from Rio, just before disappearing. They were predicting that the aircraft must have undergone electrical malfunction. So for all of you who do not know, an airliner would never run an airplane these days without a backup system. And A330 is a modern generation aircraft fitted with several electrical systems. In a case of complete failure, there is a last backup system called the RAM rise system which runs purely on air pressure and keeps the instruments working.

The route of the flight was over the Atlantic Ocean, and it is difficult to have ATC facilities there, besides there is no low level air traffic over an ocean so there are radar services provided to airplanes for flying these kinds of routes. These are like imaginary rings extending at a high altitude level which provide radar services to the pilot. Also, the vertical and lateral flight profile of the plane is tracked automatically and fed to the nearest ATC operators so that they can track the flight. The plane is reported to have been flying smoothly before the electric malfunction. So I believe that there was no engine failure or so. I earlier mentioned that there are rings of radars at high altitudes to track the airplanes, and the radar has tracked this plane diving abruptly and then going missing somewhere over the Atlantic. Now anything with wings, even a paper airplane that we make, cannot just sink below this way. If it has wings, there will be aerodynamic forces acting on it which will make the airplane glide. Even without an engine. If this plane sank abruptly, it probably would have undergone an explosion. Or even more accountable would be a structural loss, say a wing or an elevator. Although the A330 is a new airplane, this particular aircraft [which was just 4 years old: in service since April 2005] had last been serviced in April 2008. It could have been a technical malfunction too.




The French government has been ruling out possibilities of terrorism. I ask, why not terrorism? There could be a bomb on board too! How can you just rule such possibilities out?
Another interesting thing I observed is that, the route of this flight passes through the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone [ITCZ], where the tropics meet and the winds change drastically. This area is known for violent thunderstorms and really strong winds. So maybe the plane came under one of the thunder clouds, and got pushed down drastically in what we call a down draught.

Now, if any of you follow the Air Crash Investigates on Discovery, then there is an episode about loss of cabin pressure. If you guys don’t know about it, read this [Helios Flight ZU522, 14th August 2005]. The same could have happened in the case of this flight too! Of course followed by other malfunctions too. Maybe everyone was unconscious and that is why the ATC must not have received any signal from the Pilots! I am just trying to analyze the situation from my point of view. I could be wrong. But I am wondering what went wrong!

Nothing can be investigated till the Black Box of the aircraft is found, which in this case, will be somewhere on the bed of the ocean, approximately 300 meters under water. And it must be in a pretty good condition since it is designed to withstand very heavy forces. The latest I heard was that another pilot of another airline spotted “Orange Spots” over the Atlantic, just after the plane had disappeared. The French Air Force team is being said to have sighted wreckage 650km (390 miles) north-east of Brazil's Fernando do Noronha island. I hope they find the Black Box soon.
The purpose of this post was to tell all my readers to not fear or dread airplane journeys. The rate of an air accident is 1 as compared to 10,000 accidents on road. And anyway, whatever has to happen, will happen. That does not mean you stop traveling by air. I know many people who stopped air travel, especially in US and Canada, after the 9/11 story and I have been trying to convince them too.




I offer serious and heartfelt condolences to all the people who are even remotely connected to this incident. I am really feeling devastated. May the souls of all the people who lost their lives, rest in peace. For them, this was probably the journey back home to their loved ones, maybe for some it was a trip to Paris, for someone it was visiting friends and relatives, and some of them were just at work. I have been shedding tears on and off, looking at the worried friends and relatives at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.




59 comments:

mysterious gal said...

This was one of the most amazing writes of urs that u have written....

i know there r different perspectives at looking at crashes and accidents..and u handled this topic from a pilot's perspective very well...trust me i m proud to be ur frnds...no amount of applause's and bow's would be enough for the way u explained everything....

and ya i could understand how u feel.....its a kind of loss where u have just no words.....i still remember when 9/11th happened what a situation it was at home till the time we talked to bro......and the travel addict he is...it keeps us at toes....

but the way u surveyed the security measures and intricate details...trust me it will give confidence to lots of people who have losses due to travel incidences...or fears.....and they would be feel better in traveling by air

there is no word of condolence enough to the ones who experienced personal loss....like u said after all it was just a flight for them....but then as they say...death is inevitable when it has to come it comes with ne excuse....people survive worse of accidents because they were destined to live and some die even in sleep as their time was up....that's life

But gal seriously proud of you
Love ya

Chronicwriter said...

when people crack a sensible joke, laugh with them..

when people write emotionally deep articles like this, vibrate in that emotinal level..

can totally understand your view cos your heart and soul is into the profession...

may the 228 souls rest in peace..

www.chronicwriter.com

ARUNA said...

its really a very sad moment Ashrita, i was so upset after reading about the incident, i was thinking about the kids who didn't even c the world still......my heartfelt condolences to them and may the 228 souls rest in peace!

kavita said...

i watched this disc. on the same topic in ndtv yesterday.....its very tragic....thanx for sharing such detailed information.

muthu said...

That was a very detailed and knowledgeable post.

I saw the incident in the news and my heart felt sympathies went out for the people involved.

Sometimes when i look @ incidents like this, it makes me wonder why them.

What have they done? I am agnostic so I have no reason to be angry with God- if he is there.

But why them??

Sigh... I jus hope their near and dear ones recover.

Thanks 4 sharing such a comprehensive write up about the incident.

Amal Bose said...

i watch the show on discovery channel though i dont remember the one you mentioned. im sure everything will be sorted out once the black box is found.
may their soul rest in peace

Arv said...

It was a shocking incident especially for a frequent flyer like me :(

It was good to read this perspective of things from someone who knows it...

God bless their souls and their families...

take care da... cheers...

BlossomBlue said...

TBH when i was reading ur article i felt i m readin an article of a renowned journalist.

Trust me the way u have expressed ur feelings to a topic like this is really appreciable.

I m too small to judge it, cuz i might never have even remotely thought of such topics to write abt.

Loved readin it.

neeraj_only said...

Hey ashri , me too felt bad on hearing the news....one news channel said...investigation will disclose horrific story...

Pilotji u explained so well...me not scared ...can't wait to get in plane....dream come true that will be :)

this post is not so long...me did read in 1 go..touching post ashri

Satans Darling™ said...

Thanks Nabs, I am glad that atleast some people found the effort worthwhile. Orelse the post is honestly so long... Very few would even read it.

Satans Darling™ said...

Thanks for the words Chriz... May all of them RIP

Satans Darling™ said...

It's very sad Aruna... Especially during travel on such long haul sectors there is mostly vacation and holiday crowd during this time of the year. So it sucks even more!

Satans Darling™ said...

NDTV covered it very well Kavita, I am happy the information was interesting to you.

Satans Darling™ said...

Muthu, that is the sad part... Their loved ones will take a long time to recover. But it was inevitable. I really don't know what to say about the people in the airplane, but considering the time at which this took place, I am hoping most of them had a peaceful exit from the world as it was night time and they must be asleep.

Satans Darling™ said...

Hey AB,

This episode was recent, where there was loss of cabin pressure in the airplane, and the plane ran out of supplementary oxygen too, so there was a case of hypoxia where your body does not have enough oxygen to keep you conscious at high level of altitudes. No one knew what was going on until the last moment, coz inspite of people being unconscious on board, the plane flew the desired route since it was on autopilot.

There were 2 crewmembers on board who were trying to save the plane till the last moment using the last of oxygen left, and they were spotted by the F-16's sent to rescue this airplane. There was nothing they could do. Finally the plane ran out of fuel and crashed into mountains before reaching its destination.

Satans Darling™ said...

Arv, I hope I increased your knowledge a little bit more because this is something frequent flyers will benefit from.

Satans Darling™ said...

Thanks a tin blossomblue, it means a lot to me that you read it :)

Satans Darling™ said...

Thanks Neeraj, and may all the blessed souls rip. I am very happy to know that you are not scared of air travel :)

Miss Sunshine said...

*Standing Ovation*

I feel like a pilot myself, with all those technical stuff and all.. it was so beautifully sad. Get what I am saying na??
I loved the way you explained everything, I mean u being a pilot, yeh sab understood hota hai, haina?
And I fel sorry for all those who lost their lives too. :(
Wish i could do smthn!
and it was beautiful.. :) heart-wrenchingly..

Satans Darling™ said...

Apurva... Sigh..

fms1988 said...

Lovely post,Iv been following this story.
Whats happend is sad,But life goes on & ue rite ppl shouldn fear planes.Im a frequent flyer whats is destined to happen will happen.

& for those who find this funny should just think god forbid it could have been any of us or our loved ones aswell !

Kishore Choudhary said...

Hi Ash,
post bahut sanvedansheel hai aur gyanvardhak bhi. news sunte samay mujhe bhi aapka khayaal ho aaya tha bevajah sirf is relation me ki aap bhi kanhin vaise hi to gayab nahin ho gayi hain.... ishwar naa kare . aakhir aap meri priy bloggers me ek rahi hain hamesha halanki do ek post padhi nahin...
KI VO BADGUMA HAI YA KHAFA HAI MUJHSE ...? MAIN BHI KYON POOCHHON MUJHAKO KYA HAI USSE ?

ZiLliOnBiG said...

first of all, i join you in condolences. thats tragic and the loss is incomprehensible.

Secondly, that was such a detailed and expert writeup, i salute your astuteness.i too fly often ( 4-5 round trips a month)and next time i fly i would remember the technicalities you mentioned. i hope it doesnt scares me. once i was shit scared for life, when abrobtly the weather went bad and the plane ( horrible Air-india) was literally tossing. An hour of trial and nightmare.cheers

nikhil said...

May the souls rest in peace..

but i must tell you that u should consider takng up a job as an air crash investigator!!

SSQuo said...

It is crazy that in this day and age that something can just 'disappear'. I think we have all evolved into beings where we get ready answers to things and not being able to have this in our control, or not getting the answer we want seems preposterous!

Its a constant qtn, what do you, it 'disappeared'????

Ragpicker said...

Hi ash , frankly after a long time I have actually read a long article completely without a single break ! Its so nicely put up with splendid observations right from simple geography to aerodynamics that kept me hooked all together.

Well I'm sure you have certainly placed the right questions but the truth is little more complicated I guess.

I think I have something that would lead you some further into this rabbit hole

http://www.infowars.com/did-bomb-bring-down-french-airbus/

Do go through the comment section as well.

Take Care.

Aw.S.M said...

You know ash from what i ve read so far, it seems like there are a thousand things that can go wrong on a flight so right now ia ctually admire you airline people, technical personnel etc etc for keeping the accident rates so low. Really, its something else.

Whenever i board a flight, i always assume everything to go down well. Hence the airport has always been one of my fav places.

By the way, by finding the black box what can one deduce? Sorry about this but one doubt. When we lose our mobile and if its high tech, i ve heard you can track it down but temme y cant the same be done with a plane? Is it coz the plane was over the ocean?

Hey ash i know y this distresses you more most. Relax girl. :)

luv
amith

~PrIncEsS nUcHu~ said...

Oh dear.. It's so nice of you to Post about it.. I felt so sad too.. Even When I shared about this to my colleagues , they were like "oh is it??" and they turned away! I was like.. We have hearts!

Ms.R. said...

Firstly thank you for writing this one and in a simple language than laymen like me would understand the technicalities. I dunt think it was CAT, as the pilot may have been able to regain control. May be it was some failure inside... I hope the black box is found before all the data gets erased from it...

And yes, it can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime - nothing to laugh about it. There have been so many people who might have been on the plane going back after holidays. One lady from Dubai was coming back after honeymoon btw... At a loss of words for such disaster..

Satans Darling™ said...

I know Fatima! And the incident is surely tragic. New things are coming up every day though...

Satans Darling™ said...

Kishore, thanks for the sweet words :)

Satans Darling™ said...

Zillionbig,

I am so glad it was informative. If you should know, airliners are designed in a way that however they are tossed, they eventually come back to the original stable position. It is almost impossible to toss the plane over, only skilled airforce personnel can do it that too with a lot of energy and application of forces.

The aerobatic aircraft are designed otherwise, since they have to enter into abrupt maneuvers all the time.

Satans Darling™ said...

Nik :P

Bekaari ke zindagi main dimaag ka exercise kar rahi hun :P

Satans Darling™ said...

SSQuo,

I agree with you, how can anyone even use the words "It disappeared!" That is so unreasonable!

Satans Darling™ said...

Rag, thanks a ton for finding it informative. Your comment means a lot to me. And I did go through the link. There had to be something more to it than just "disappearing" in thin air!

I am hoping and praying that they find the Black Box soon!

Satans Darling™ said...

Amith,

I am so glad you asked this question. Many people don't know what a black box exactly is.

Well, a black box is a box like the name suggests, and it consists of a Cockpit Voice Recorder [CVR] and a Flight Data Recorder [FDR]. The two instruments are enclosed in this black box because this box can withstand and survive high forces of disruption, electricity and lightning. Clearly in this case I am assuming that the blackbox is safe and sound on the bed of the ocean.

Now, a CVR contains all the spoken recordings in the cockpit, even the ones which are spoken other than the radio calls made to the ATC. All the personal talks, gossips, discussions, everything is recorder for a period of 24 hours. Then the tape starts re-recording. As a result, you always have the last 24 hours recorded in the instrument.

On the other hand, an FDR automatically records upto 25 hours of flight profile. Stuff like airspeed, altitude, engine ratios, pressurization and all such technical aspects.

These CVR and FDR are individually painted orange in colour so that they can reflect any kind of light and easily be identifiable.

A long process is involved in breaking this black box considering that it is so strong. After a detailed study of all the recorded data, analysts and investigators know what went wrong and how.

I hope I could shed some light on your doubt :)

Satans Darling™ said...

Princess Nuchu,

Yeah, its like.. WTF! If someone you knew was involved in it then what would you say?

Satans Darling™ said...

Ms.R

Yeah, there is definitely more than CAT which that aircraft went through. A series of unfortunate events to put it in simple words. Thankfully, the date in the black box is completely safe and cannot be erased!

Good to have you back here! :D

R.V said...

It is so ironic to see this posted just after a post called, "How do you choose to live your life?"

Isnt that so, life is all about choices? One wrong (obviously in retrospect) step and we might end up in deep deep shit! but then you would never know unless you take it eh? Live life as there is no tomorrow coz there actually might not be!

Very very well written, girl!

Ria said...

I knw this is not the time to talk abt this....but i wud seriously like to compliment u on the way u hav written this post. I was in a similar dilemma as to wht to write abt this....but u hav summed it up so well!! I literally cried when i heard abt the flight missing....i really cudnt comprehend wht the families of the ones who lost their lives must be going thru!!hw does it feel to realise tht somebody jus disappeared without a trace, in this case there aren't any bodies!all of them jus disappeared into the ocean. this makes us realise how short life is.Yet ppl dont realise the gravity of the situation.i knw a lot of ppl who didnt even bother to check on this news.

I so hope tht they get the black box soon. Thanks a ton for writing this post, it said all tht i wanted to say or read.

^_^ SENO ^_^ said...

Hey ash

Great topic to start with, i mean I am glad i could get a pilots view of what could have happened. I have been following the news on and off, and i being a total immature could not understand the technical aspects. But thanks to you , i get a real picture of what am reading .

we all have no clue whatever happened to the aircraft . But i hope they at least find the reason.

Death is inevitable but hope such tragedies don't happen in future, human life is worth more than any thing else .

Satans Darling™ said...

Rashi,

I know, it is very ironic!

Satans Darling™ said...

I am glad you liked it Ria, especially when you mentioned that you wanted to write about it yourself. I too hope that they find the black box soon :)

Satans Darling™ said...

Thanks for liking it Seno, and the last line you said is so very true!

Twisted Elegance.... said...

Such a tragedy... :(

Adisha said...

Such a tragedy it is and such a nightmare for those air travelers who fly frequently. Yet air plane travel on the whole is one of the safest modes of travel .

My heart, wishes and prayers go out to those on the flight and those who were close to them and will miss them.

This write up is a very well thought out and researched piece and you've dealt with it with sensitivity. I learned a lot more things when going through it.

Thank you for sharing. Loved your blog. Am blog rolling you on my site.

Am numb thinking a lot about this.

Cheers,
adisha

sawan said...

quite an emotional and an informative post. Ashri, i couldnt think of so many possibilities! but would it mean that there would be absolutely no information on what happened if we dnt find the black box? i read it some wer tht the Air France had been cancelling flights too often telling its cos of technical difficulties. would you rule off a mechanical failure of a unfit machine here?
gues lot of qns needs to be answered.

may all the souls who lost their shine rest in peace.

You take care grl.

aZoed said...

whenever I hear of such air accidents or even troubled landings, the first question that comes to my mind is - "Is air travel worth all the risk?" Thanks to this brilliant article of yours... at least i won't think that anymore... The car i'm steering is as much (or more) susceptible to an accident as an aircraft... The info that you provided made me sit up and google up for facts myself. Much has happened since your post I guess... and i'm having trouble putting pieces together, do write about how the investigation proceeds.
Thanks again for the info...
may the departed souls rest in peace...

Satans Darling™ said...

Twisted Elegance.. Yes, it feels really bad when unexpected accidents occur like this.

Satans Darling™ said...

Adisha, thank you so much. I am very glad you found it informative. And I share the numbness with you completely.

Satans Darling™ said...

Sawan,

If we do not find the black box, it is as good as having no information coz there will be a number of stories made without a concrete evidence. They should really find the blackbox and I think they will. They oughtta!

I would rule out an instrument malfunction here, since there were series of readings recorded from all the major instruments of this aircraft. And in a case of failure too, it has 2 backups. But there is an exception too. A very rare one at that. Maybe if a screw or bolt was loose or if there was a fuel leakage then there is a possibility that this plane might have exploded by a lightning strike. But that is highly unlikely considering the age of this plane. It had been in service since April 2005 and last inspected in April 2008, which means it was a pretty new aircraft.

I am waiting to see how the investigation takes place on this, but there is much more [political] to it.

Satans Darling™ said...

aZoed, I am happy to know that the article helped you restore faith in air travel.

Try this link, it will give you an actual timeline of the incident.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8077304.stm


I have been following the story and I will post in updates soon

Satans Darling™ said...

For people who are following my article for information, here are a few links that you might wanna give a read.

Argentina bomb threat investigated as debate rages over fate of AF447

Weather kicks in again as satellite reports emerge on the internet

The last 15 minutes of AF447

The last 15 minutes evidently indicate a loss of cabin pressure.

Twisted Elegance.... said...

Wanted to ask you this for a long long time

Why are you the Satan's darling?

Satans Darling™ said...

Hmmm well, Interesting question :P

When I was a teenager, I used to "love" [so-called] This person who used to disguise himself as Satan on the internet. And well, I was his darling that time so hence the name :P The affair did not last for more than 10 days, but I loved the name, so I have been hanging on to it for 8 years now :D

This will answer many people's doubts!

The Vitruvian Boy said...

u r related to this bcoz u r a pilot right....???
Hope there's no other relation....

Hmmm.. well i am speechless abt this incident...

Its strange that in todays modern world with computers high tech radar and all we still find some incidences which are a total mystery and we cant come to any conclusion soon...

May the departed souls rest in peace..and god give their loved ones strength to face this terrible loss.....

Satans Darling™ said...

Yes, I am a pilot...

Thanks for visiting!

Some incidents are inevitable.. Sigh..

Twisted Elegance.... said...

you are a pilot?

:O :O :O :O

Anonymous said...

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